Wong Aoki Public School Performances

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Date: 1991

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion, Religion

Medium: Theater

Artist: Brenda Wong Aoki

Confronting Bodies: Parents

Dates of Action: 1991

Location: South Lake Tahoe, California

Description of Artwork: Brenda Wong Aoki is a storyteller-actress who performs tales of the Pacific Rim and stories of the Asian experience in the United States. She appears on stage in black clothing and has long black hair. Members of a local fundamentalist church raised concerns after seeing a photograph of her performance in a brochure.

The Incident: Parents in two counties in the South Lake Tahoe area of California objected to a series of performances in the local public schools, requesting that the artist remove "controversial" parts of her program. Challengers charged, among other things, that the performer's stories about witches and demons were "anti-Christian." Responding to the challenge, a parent liaison at Meyers Elementary School in Eldorado County requested that the vice principal contact the sponsoring Tahoe Arts Project and request that the performer delete the "demon" story from her repertoire. The story has a Halloween theme in which a mother tells her daughter to avoid the lake because demons live there. Local parents equated the story's demons with the devil and were concerned that the story is anti-Christian. The Projects' board decided against censoring the program.

Results of Incident: In neighboring Alpine County, parents of students at Diamond Valley School lodged similar objections and requested that they be allowed to pre-screen future multicultural programs, which the school board accepted.

Source: People for the American Way