'Afropuff Lederhosen' explores race in context of Germany

 Vanessa Roberts, age 8, Germany

Vanessa Roberts, age 8, Germany

This article describes an interactive workshop version of "AfroPuff Lederhosen: Experience the Difference Humor Makes" presented at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The event kicked off a series commemorating the 100th anniversary of when Lucile Berkeley Buchanan became the first African-American woman to graduate from CU-Boulder (Read More...)

Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: The high stakes of modern day activism for youth of color by Candi CdeBaca & Vanessa Roberts

Youth do not live in a vacuum. Their daily lives take place in a matrix of oppositional ideologies, educational models, and acts of resistance. In tandem with the technological advances that make it much easier for youth across the globe to reach each other and share experiences, youth of color in particular are simultaneously suffering the repeated trauma of watching their bodies destroyed and devalued in multiple contexts (Read More...)

"Student Voices at CU: What Racial and Ethnic Inclusion Means for Our Campus"

Another student organizer, Vanessa Roberts, a PhD Student and Graduate Instructor in CU Boulder’s Department of Sociology, notes that she "hopes participants will gain a greater awareness of the current efforts already underway to make CU a more inclusive campus. Ideally, folks will leave this event inspired to not only take personal action, but also to hold their peers and our institution accountable for putting in the work it will take to achieve inclusive excellence here at CU." (Read More...)

Afropuff Lederhosen' speaker mixes stereotypes with humor

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By KJ LANG klang@lacrossetribune.com | Posted: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 12:15 am

Actress Vanessa Roberts gave her audience a good laugh Tuesday night - and an invitation to re-think how they view race.

The 24-year-old Roberts of Brooklyn, N.Y., showed real photos of herself living in Germany from ages 4 to 8 during her one-woman show, "Afropuff Lederhosen: What happens if you take a black baby and raise it to be German" at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

She performed as Dr. Klaudia Von Rassenberg, decked out in in a bleach-blonde wig. Von Rassenberg pointed to the photos - including one of a 7-year-old Roberts with a 2-inch afro and lederhosen, a traditional German pair of leather overall shorts - and admitted being baffled by "the contradiction."

Another photo showed Roberts with her mother, partaking in the "German tradition of hiking in the forest."

"Please note the subject's scowl ... it is clear that her blackness will not permit her to fully appropriate this German custom," said Von Rassenberg.

The character's over-the-top view that race programs people to act in certain ways allowed Roberts to break down racial stereotypes.

"I view stereotypes as the fast food of cultural exchange,"

See Roberts, B2

Roberts said in an interview. "Stereotypes are cheap, easily accessible but not very sustaining."

UW-L sophomore Peter Moua said he's Hmong, but people sometimes ask if he is Chinese. He said Roberts' presentation was a good way to educate people about race.

"It was creative how she discussed a heavy topic of race through comedy and performance, and was able to convey ideas in a way that was not too preachy," said Mahruq Khan, professor in women's gender and sexuality studies at UW-L.

Roberts said the humor helps her connect with the audience.

"I feel that a lot of diversity work and workshops that I've taken part in were often detached or somewhat clinical or somewhat preachy," she said. "I'm trying to re-infuse humanity into this work, using humor and personal stories."

Colorado College reaches uneasy pause after 'blackface' controversy

Dressing up like Steve Urkel from the 1990s TV show "Family Matters" is easy, suggests Vanessa Roberts, co-chair of the Colorado College Black Student Union. 

You put on "high-water" pants with suspenders, maybe add a cardigan sweater and a pair of wide-rimmed glasses. If you want to go further, you could make some comedic mishap before uttering the character's trademark line in a nasal voice, "Did I do that?" (Read More...)