That is fascinating. Do black Cubans enjoy watching black face (whites in black face)? I am just curious.
I have an acquaintance in Tampa whose grandmother (now dead) used to do black face shows in Arkansas, and he claims that even the blacks would come to watch the show and enjoy them, but he transferred his grandmother's shows onto dvd, and he said that many people would think he is racist to want such shows, but he wants them because it showed his grandmother doing an act when she was young.
These are definitely issues that need to be studied and discussed, which is why this topic thread on Ballet Alert is worthwhile. But for most Americans it is still shocking, because we have been told since we are children that it is taboo.
As a former school librarian I knew about a case where a black family was trying to get another librarian fired, because they brought to her attention that there was a book on her shelf with the "n" word, although it was a book in which this white girl befriends a black girl and depicted what happened back in the 1960s in the South. So the author's overall message was that discrimination is bad, but the black family did not like that the book contained villains calling a black girl the "n" word. Well, in discussions of the book the librarian used the whole word ("n" word) simply to discuss the word (not to call anyone any names), and the family became outraged and it made the newspapers, and they wanted her fired. I have no idea what happened, since I moved away. So, as you can see, it is a volatile topic in the U.S. I think it probably is healthier to keep dialogue and discuss these issues openly and honestly (like the librarian did), and it is unhealthy to actually simply enforce a taboo and censor books, for example, etc.
But linking this to the original reason we are discussing......I actually do not have too much problem with the Pharaoh's Daughter or Bayadere (in Russia) but I do think it could be unwise for ABT or an American company to stage it like that. If I were the director of Pharaoh's Daughter and staging it in the U.S. I would not stage it with black face dancers and just let them be white. It doesn't change anything. But I don't really have that much problem with Russia doing what they did. It is up to Russian people to decide if that is offensive or not to their culture. But I am sure some here will disagree with my assessment.
Don't libraries sometimes have problems with Mark Twain?
I think Mark Twain's novels are some of the most challenged (patrons complain and ask for it to be removed). The American Library Association puts out a "Most Banned Books of 2011" list usually, and it is usually comprised of amazingly good books.
What's funny is that it is really the luck of the draw when a patron complains about a book on a library shelf. I never had a patron demand it be removed, but I had some question the wisdom of a book on my shelf and I am usually shocked, because what I have often thought to myself, "You are complaining about THAT book???? THAT one is so mild compared to many others on the shelves! If you only knew!!!!" But you really don't want to say that to the patron, because then you have a stack of books they are complaining about! LOL
I usually tell them that if I took a book off everytime a book offended someone somewhere I would probably have a library full of maybe 20 books total. They usually understand and drop it. I worked in a middle school library and Young Adult literature (authors writing specifically for teens) does not shy away from any topic nowadays (date rape, being gay, molestation, anorexia, cutting your arms, suicide, etc). We are actually in a Renaissance of Young Adult literature in which the books are as deep and rich as any adult literature. It just tends to keep sex out of it (no lurid descriptions or the author sticks to age appropriate incidents or descriptions). Even a book on rape can be written for different ages and kept age appropriate. Of course, some would disagree. These Young Adult books can make you cry, laugh, etc. The days of Dick and Jane Go to School are over. Youth Literature is amazing! In fact, since it attempts to avoid smut and deal with real world issues sensitively it can actually be better than adult novels that like to stick in the popular sleaze and lots of sex! LOL
But due to Young Adult Literature experiencing this Renaissance, complaints and "book challenges" are becoming more and more normal in the schools because different people have different ideas of what children should read. So it is a complicated issue. Every school librarian has a committee (at least in the county I worked in) that you hope never meets. It is comprised of teachers and community members, and I tried to keep it as balanced as possible with both conservatives and liberals on the committee. I was lucky that my committee never had to meet, b/c I didn't have many questions about books, despite having plenty of books that get challenged all the time, but other librarians had book challenges from a parent almost weekly. It depends on the school.