Poet/Performer Chad Goller-Sojourner exposes his personal journey from White to Black

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Chad Goller-Sojourner (courtesy of The Argonaut/University of Idaho)

Chad Goller-Sojourner is a fan of long titles. His first solo piece, widely toured and also deeply personal, was titled Sitting in Circles with Rich White Girls: Memoirs of a Bulimic Black Boy. That show began his public exposition of his unique story of being a black child adopted into a white family and growing up in white neighborhoods. It focused on earlier childhood experiences.

His newest piece is titled Riding in Cars with Black People & Other Newly Dangerous Acts: A Memoir in Vanishing Whiteness and continues his life story as he leaves his white neighborhood and begins to live on his own in grittier, less protected-enclave-like neighborhoods, and confronts the fact that others actually notice his skin color with negative effects.

As Chad puts it, “dangerous until proven otherwise.” He is able to see the wryly funny side of his personal story, as well as the sober societal issues. And due to his unique background, and the fact that he also grew up with a weight issue and had to grapple with “coming out” as a gay man, he can be an ambassador to many outlooks. His pungent observations may bridge a gulf of understanding and bring you information you didn’t know you were missing on the hot topic of racial injustice.

Chad’s piece has been partially funded by King County, through 4Culture, and he’s interested in getting attention from stakeholders in government, such as the police department and others, to see his show and consider his experiences. This is particularly relevant during the revamping of Seattle’s ongoing police education practices, as overseen by the United States Department of Justice. His hopes are to involve lots of people in conversation and interaction, not just to watch a performance and go home.

Chad reports his first police pull-over after moving from the suburbs. “What I remember most about that first stop was that he (the policeman) asked, ‘Where’re you headed?’ Not license, registration and proof of insurance, please, but where’re you headed? Eighteen years, nine months and sixteen days of riding in cars with nothing but white people and not once had an officer opened with, ‘Where’re you headed?’”

Director Tyrone Brown says, “As a performer, Chad is so engaging that it’s like you are the only other person in the room and he has personally invited you into his past to experience his life first hand.”

The performance is at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center. Tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/351610. The address is 3515 S Alaska St. Six performances, April 11, 12, 13, 19, 20: 8pm and April 21: 2 pm.

Chad Goller-Sojourner (courtesy New Tribune/Lui Kit Wong)

 

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