- Joan Rang Christensen
Part One: War
They are referring to the current situation in Denmark as war. They say, that "war" is a metaphor for the "debate" that takes place between non-white artists, researchers and debaters on one side, and white Danes of every class and employment on the other. It has been going on for years, but has of course been expanded and sharpened after the recent parliament election. The war on racism. The war on structural racism, institutional racism and interpersonal racism. The war on unconscious racism performed without racist intentions or even in the desire of the opposite.
The war is seen as a metaphor for the majority, but is a real term for the
minority. The one, whose freedom is limited. The one, whose life is
threatened. Did I say that racism is a real cause of death for non-white people in white communities? If in doubt, look at the descriptions of non-
white Danes in Denmark. Are you assertive, then look at the US; New York,
Ferguson, Charleston – South Carolina. We are—now again—living—in a
time when people are being killed because of—and only because of—their
non-white complexion. Killing is killing, and when the murders are
systematic, there is war. It is not a metaphor. It is the reality that bleeds.
Virginia writes: “Three years is a long time to not respond to a letter, and your letter has
been missed even longer. I had hoped it would answer itself or that others
would answer it for me. But it is still here with the question that remains
unanswered: How, in your opinion, can we prevent war? […] A letter that is
perhaps unique in the history of human correspondence, for when was the
last time a well-educated man asked a woman how, in her opinion, to
Virginia asks this question in 1938, but it seems strikingly current 77 years
later. The war on whiteness and the post-colonial power relationship, the current political situation, the oppression of the minorities, the economic
collapse of Southern Europe and the more than burgeoning nationalism are
rarely, or rather never, publicly interpreted or analyzed by women.
Especially not brown women. Is it needless to say that different people
experience situations and problems differently, and that it can be argued
with some right that in order to understand a conflict, all parties must be
Or, as Virginia says: “The result is, that even if we look at the same things, we see them
The projection of myself into this story is thus not a selfish or self-centered
project, but based on an analysis of the characters that will fit into the
collective narrative: a man, a servant, a king, a warrior, a husband, a son
avenging his father in the killing of his war desiring and power-hungry
uncle, is normal. A non-white, adopted woman post WWII, socialized in the
working class, raised in the country side, political in her art as well as in
life, is not a character usually included in Danish literature or in a North
Zealand scenery. And not at all for the purpose of waging war on history.
I will be standing in the blood. It is not a metaphor. Wherever I go, the
ground turns red. Whenever there is a war, someone dies.
Written by Joan Rang Christensen, and Korean-Danish adoptee and award-winning playwright. Joan is educated at The Danish National School of Playwriting in 2004, and has had around 40 radio and stage plays produced in Denmark, England, Germany, Sweden, and the USA. Most recently, “Tonight the war comes home” (Copenhagen, 2019)—about the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.
WAR DEATH THE SEA was performed by the author at museum Munkeruphus in Denmark, on August 2, 2015, in connection with Jette Hye Jin Mortensen’s exhibition "A Landscape Theater" and as a part of the exhibition “The Voyage Out” about Virginia Woolf.
Photo credit: Timme Hovind