Sunday, April 16, 2017

Play a Day: Más

Milta Ortiz
For Sunday I read Más by Milta Ortiz, which is available for download from New Play Exchange.

From my very basic Spanish I know "más" means more, but the acronym in this case (also) stands for Mexican American Studies, a course in the Tuscon United School District which taught the history of colonization and its effect on today's society.

Just as the members of today's Executive Branch believe the wealth and status into which they were born prove their rightful place in the hierarchy, so, too, do those born poor and disenfranchised tend to believe the social order has a reason which justifies their low standing. MAS was intended to explain the origins of class and racial disparity, and the results were striking. Test scores among Latinx students increased, their graduation rates increased.

Self-determination among the non-white population, however, is not exactly popular among the more conservative elements of our modern American society, or so you may have noticed. The program was branded "racist" and HB 2281 was passed to eliminate such "ethnic studies" programs in the Tuscon city schools.

"This narrative of the oppressed versus the oppressor doesn't promote critical thinking," they said.  This is America, after all, and we no longer oppress based on race or ethnicity, so why talk about it.

Ortiz's play is based on extensive interviews and documentation from those at the heart of the struggle. It includes song, dance and poetry, with mythical allusion and cultural depth. I wish I could see it, the pageantry might leaven the heartbreak of reading it. In spite of the loss it is a story of hope, but every day leaves me increasingly discouraged.

Tú eres mi otro yo.

You are my other me, indeed.

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