Clayton Bigsby and the artificial construct of race

In his book, Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching (2016), Mychal Denzel Smith discusses one of the skits from the classic Chapelle Show. In his Clayton Bigsby skit, Dave Chapelle brilliantly illustrates how race is a cultural construct, a fiction, a story, a mythology that creates a certain form of life.

Developed circa 2007, Clayton Bigsby was one of Dave Chapelle’s most controversial skits: A Frontline investigation goes undercover seeking to come face to face with Clayton Bigsby, an author who has galvanized white supremacists everywhere with his fierce and uncompromising books on white power. Much to the shock of the Frontline journalist and the TV audience, it is discovered that Clayton Bigsby is actually black. He’s just blind and doesn’t know it.



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Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

One thought on “Clayton Bigsby and the artificial construct of race”

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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