A provocative title for the forthcoming doc film by TRIBES Entertainment
Jiggaboo…jigga…jigger…jig. As a journalist and documentarian, Leslie Cunningham (TRIBES Creator and filmmaker) is compelled to search out truth in her work and without bias of her own positionality in the world or in relation to the subject. Thus, she admits she was offended when she learned her grandfather’s show, Harlem in Havana, was considered the carnival ‘Jig Show’.
“In my lifetime, I’ve known the term ‘jiggaboo’, as an insult to black people, and I immediately made this connection. The idea of calling my film JIG SHOW made me very uncomfortable and continues to make me uncomfortable, as I suspect it will make others uncomfortable as well, ” says Cunningham, who has received several requests from Harlem in Havana show fans to reconsider the film’s title. Yet, the more Cunningham became aware of the power and punch this three-letter word held in the progress of this project, the more she become aware of the inevitability of her film title.
During her research, Cunningham found an etymology of the term ‘jig’ born in the European renaissance, in celebration- play and dance to song- that devolved into a racist slur that found a temporary and perplexing home on the pages of Billboard magazine as Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana endeared fans in communities across North America, west of the Mississippi. This so-called ‘jig’ show became a gem in the cap of the world’s largest carnival, while performers of color back east bumped painfully against the walls of the Chitlin Circuit or the coveted few opportunities in America’s major cities.
Cunningham came to understand this word and classification reached beyond the politics of the day as do the discourses on race engaged by her grandfather, Leon Claxton’s show. A journey into the complexity of American entertainment and race history, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, seeks to tell the most honest story. A DOCUMENTARY FILM BY TRIBES Entertainment.