With all the police violence (against black men) that's been flooding the news lately, I've been reflecting on how exactly racism has effected my life. Being a 19-yr-old artsy, African American male with many friends of all cultures I find myself forgetting that racism is more than just a word I read in a textbook a couple of times.
Recently, I heard about a show called Rasheeda Speaking at the Pershing Square Signature Center and it struck my curiosity. I'm a person who enjoys going to shows knowing little to nothing about the show. I look for a couple of key interesting factors and then I'm willing to take the risk. This show was no different and what caught my eye were the big names involved in the production: Tonya Pinkins, Diane Wiest and the director was Cynthia Nixon (better know as Miranda from Sex and the City). I was very excited to see what they would create together on stage.
The basis of the storyline was that two women (one black, one white) were co-workers in a doctor's office who didn't always get along. The play, even through it had many comedic moments, left a very tense aura that lingered over me. The show was full of very intense racial remarks and for once I felt like I was seeing a prime example of modern day racism. At one point in the show, the doctor (who was also white) promoted Weist's character to office manager and the two came in early to discuss Pitkins's characters progress. During this scene, they called her a "angry black woman" because they felt her rough disposition came from her holding on to anger about slavery. The "n" word was never used but, to me, it seemed to be insinuated through out the production. At times, I would hear little chuckles coming from around me during scenes of just Weist and the doctor.
As I was leaving the theatre, I began to watch the rest of the audience members to see their reactions to the production. I looked around and saw that I might have been the only African American person in the theatre. Everyone was walking out calling the show “cute”and “very entertaining”. At that moment, I got furious and to be honest I couldn't even pinpoint my anger so I rushed out of the theatre.
Yes, Racism is most definitely still alive, but for me the issue is what people actually do about it? I find theatre to be one of the most powerful forms of art because it forces you to see the bigger picture even if we decide to still ignore the truth.