Thursday, April 29, 2004

BLACK LIKE ME. Some quotes of the day, from an observer of the new production of A Raisin in the Sun:
Shall we, as black Americans, assimilate and become like white Americans? Can we turn back to our African roots to find the truth of our people?...

When the character based on Lorraine Hansbury breaks out in a tribal dance we didn't just laugh with delight, we hooted and hollered.
The author is Crazy Jesus Lady, who looks pretty damn white on TV and in her Wall Street Journal stipple portrait, but what do I know?

Anyway, she is justly proud to see a lot of new people -- her people, one imagines -- in a Broadway audience: "The audience was alive. It was so moving and got me kind of choked. I thought, Maybe this is like what it was like when Shakespeare wrote, 'You tell him, Romeo -- Juliet no, don't!'" (I assume she wrote "Juliet, no you didn't!" but the typesetters mistranslated, not being as fluent as she in black idiomatic speech.)

But later CJL has less fun at the show. "I was startled," she writes (or, should I say, hollas). "I turned to my friend. 'We have just witnessed a terrible cultural moment,' I said. 'Don't I know it,' he responded." The cause: audience members applauded a character's announced intention to have an abortion. Of course it's a strange reaction under the circumstances, and I would be inclined to endorse (or, should I say, give mad props to) CJL's attentiveness to the play's spirit. But it turns out it's the audience's support for abortion, not its reading of the text, that startles her, and she lashes out (or, should I say, goes off) on the "moral dullards" of whom she was previously deceived into approving just because their skin was the same color as hers.

Finally she has a request for her readers (or, should I say, for her peops):
...see this great play, and when the moment comes that the young woman announces she might end the life of the child she is carrying, that you would sit quietly and think about what that moment means. And if anyone cheers or hoots or hollers [sic], give them a look. Let them see your silence. Lead with it. Help the people around you realize: Something big is being spoken of here. And we know what it is. And it is nothing good.
Heretofore I have spoken of this woman's mad propensity for angry stares at blameless people, but I will refrain now. What do I know of the strain she's under as a black woman in this society?

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