Race isn’t always ‘Black. White.’

Tim Magaw

Cast of racially themed television show provides forum for discussion

Brian Sparks and Bruno Marcotulli, cast members of FX’s “Black. White.” visited Kent State University at 7 p.m. last night in Carol A. Cartwright Hall. “Black. White.” is a show in which two families switch races via make-up to see how peope of different

Credit: Jason Hall

Brian Sparks said he felt invisible when he walked into a shoe store and the salesman placed a shoe on his foot.

Sparks, however, wasn’t invisible; he was a black man made up to look white.

“When you’re white, you’re pretty much invisible unless you have the look of Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie,” Sparks said to a crowd of about 280 in Carol A. Cartwright Hall last night during a program sponsored by Black United Students and the All Campus Programming Board.

Sparks and Bruno Marcotulli, two cast members from the FX reality show “Black. White.,” shared their experiences about trading races for the show and growing up in the ’60s.

For the show, producers took two families, one black and one white, and using make-up and other techniques, had the families swap races and see what it was like to live as a member of the opposite race.

Sparks told the audience that if they like the show that’s good, if they don’t, that’s good too.

“The biggest thing I wanted was to start a dialogue,” he said.

The discussion produced by the event was one of the reasons ACPB president Shana Scott said the pair was brought here.

Students, including LaDon Neal, sophomore public relations major, who asked Marcotulli a few questions during the event, agreed that the discussion was important.

“I think (the discussion) was needed because it gives both the black perspective on the white world and the white perspective on the black world,” Neal said after the event.

Both cast members brought different things to the show and to yesterday’s discussion.

Marcotulli, who experienced life as a black man for the show, said he grew up in a racially diverse area in Los Angeles. Because of this, the civil rights movement of the ’60s didn’t affect him as much growing up.

“When, where and how people are raised have a huge impact on race and race relations,” Marcotulli said.

Sparks, however, said he experienced racism from both whites and blacks when he was younger. He said his skin was too light for some blacks, and too dark for some whites.

“When you meet me, meet me with your eyes closed and your mind open,” he said.

But Sparks said he knew the audience didn’t want to listen to the two lecture them.

“I could see the faces in the crowd,” Sparks said after the event. “They didn’t want to hear us speak. They wanted to ask questions.”

The questions Neal asked Marcotulli centered around what Marcotulli learned from the experience.

“I felt (Marcotulli) didn’t learn anything,” Neal said after the event. “A lot of his answers were sarcastic, and he didn’t answer (the questions) in full.”

After the event, Marcotulli said he appreciated the tough questioning from the audience.

“I enjoy it because I really want to hear their questions,” he said. “I’m not at all thrown by them. I want to give them an honest answer.”

Although it was the first stop on the tour for the “Black. White.” cast, Sparks said he thought the discussion went well.

“(The audience members) did get to ask what they wanted to ask, and they kept it tasteful,” Sparks said.

BUS President Sasha Parker agreed that the event went well.

“It was an eye-opening experience for the people that were here,” she said.

Contact ethnic affairs reporter Tim Magaw at [email protected].