Thursday, April 1, 2021

Play a Day: Well-Intentioned White People

Imani Vaughn-Jones
For five Aprils I have read one full-length a play, every day, from those I find at New Play Exchange (NPX). You can find them all by selecting the Play a Day tag at the bottom of this post.

Why? Because I joined NPX to be part of a larger playwriting community and I saw all these folks reading and recommending each other's work and I didn't know how to fit that into all my other responsibilities. So I made it a thing.

I do read other plays throughout the year, but at least I know I will read at least thirty, thirty entire plays, every year. And by posting them, it keeps me honest. And I get to share these artists and their work with others. 

For Thursday, I read Well-Intentioned White People by Imani Vaughn-Jones and posted at New Play Exchange.

Recently I noticed that a white friend of mine had the habit of posting gifs on Facebook of African American people making big, expressive faces. They were always meant to be supportive, a way of amusingly expressing agreement. But there’s a term for that, it’s called “digital blackface.”

For a while I thought, man. I wish one of our mutual, black friends would say something to them about this. And then I thought, oh yeah. That’s actually my job.

Vaughn-Jones's play is a map of microaggressions, as the protagonist Nia navigates social interaction with her white husband’s parents, members of her otherwise all-white writer’s group, and finally her own husband’s inability to stand up against racist comments when he feels doing so would compromise his career.

The tension builds and builds and once she breaks and expresses her feelings is forced to cope with white defensiveness and their (our) inability to take responsibility for their (our) actions. Because, at long last, it is not one person’s responsibility, it is not her responsibility, to fix what is wrong with us. That’s actually our job.

Who should I read tomorrow?

No comments:

Post a Comment