Timely Lessons Brave the Stage
Posted by iusbvision on August 8, 2007
I was recently inspired by a play that I saw at the South Bend Civic Theatre called “The Story” by Tracey Scott Wilson, which was loosely based on a true story about a reporter who falsified information to get an award-winning story. The play featured a diverse cast and a discussion at the end about race, gender, and class. In the play a Caucasian teacher was shot by what his wife described as a black gang member.
This murder, which had gone unsolved, had taken the interest of a young African American reporter who claimed that she met up with a young African American girl who confessed to the murder. Yvonne, the reporter, wrote the story ascended in the reporting world until it was discovered that the young gang member who confessed to the murder did not actually exist. The head of the small paper for minorities, Pat, was outraged that this woman would represent her race in that way, performed a background check on Yvonne.
After finding out that she lied on her resume, Pat was reluctant to turn Yvonne in, afraid that it would give her paper and race a bad name. This play looked at so many diverse and difficult views that it touched everyone in the audience, especially when a young girl was arrested and pointed out in a line up by Yvonne.
The timely discussion followed the one-hour play. The discussion by a very diverse audience weaved from inter-racial relationships to equality, to a perfect color-blind world that we will never know. One of the things that stuck out the most was a quote from the play, “I was ridiculed by the same things that you (white people) were praised for”. The audience and cast members discussed this, and one of the young women who played a gang member reflected that this was true at her school. She, a very bright ‘A’ student, had been ridiculed by her friends saying that she wasn’t “black” enough and didn’t fit in. There are so many assumptions of what black and white people should be and act like.
If one doesn’t fit into that category then they are an “Oreo” as one of the cast members stated. An audience member observed that as human beings, despite our physical differences, we have much more in common than most people realize. When we get cut we all bleed red. Another reflected on a child she knew that didn’t identify people by the color of their skin, but the color of their clothes. A lady with a red sweater would be “the red lady”.
To the child this was the only significant difference.
In 1970, a teacher did a study on prejudice on her white elementary class, saying that blue-eyed people were better than brown-eyed people, and was amazed at how the children transformed once these differences were focused on. Normally quick students performed poorly, and the “blue eyes” teased and segregated the “brown eyes”.
The next day she switched it saying that brown-eyed people were better and got the same results. The children’s performance failed where it had succeeded the day before. She then told them the truth, and they were so happy and embraced their blue and brown eyed friends once again. The children learned a valuable lesson; to be judged by color, eye or skin, was ridiculous, and did not reflect on who you were.