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Are You Racist? Would You Know It If You Were?

Posted by: Karissa Hulse
Posted: April 13, 2015
Categories: Event Recap

I probably have tendencies – maybe like you – to make assumptions about a person before I really know them. At times those assumptions might lead me to have a negative feeling. I don’t think I’m racist. But if that person has a different color of skin than I do, am I being racist?​ What about race-biased?​ Is there a difference?

Last Thursday night IndyHub and Mosaic City co-hosted Part 2 of Awkward Conversations with our really awesome, up-for-anything friends at the Phoenix Theatre. (Awkward Conversation’s an ongoing series of discussions intended to respectfully challenge the way we all think about, talk to and act toward others in our daily lives.)

DontrellFollowing the opening night performance of Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, cast members, the producing director and even the playwright, Nathan Alan Davis, stuck around for an audience talk back, in which we used themes from the play as a basis for our dialogue.

The truth is, even with all these conversations, I still have more questions than I have answers.​ (Right now, I’m really wrestling with this one.​​)

And I’m thinking a lot about my role in all of it.

I don’t have a degree in cultural history​, ​race relations​ or socioeconomic public policy.​ And I think that’s okay​, at least most of the time.

I’m glad there are people who do, though​. ​I think of them a little like doctors. We have them. We trust them. We’re still responsible for taking good physical care of ourselves.

With that idea of responsibility in mind,  I’m going to be a voracious consumer of information, starting with this podcast my friend passed along to me. While it’s not all about race, it is about our human behaviors.

I’ve already taken a peek and so far there are only a handful of episodes. That’s not too daunting considering what we’ve all been through with Serial, right? If you want to jump to a particular episode, my friend suggested applying a lens of race to the The Power of Categories.

Like I said, I have way more questions than answers. But to circle back to Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, here’s my favorite line from the play, which I think offers hope for all of us who are still asking:

“Are we close?” asked Erika. “Closer than we were,” replied Dontrell.

P.S. Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea is up for best new play. It’s currently on stage in L.A. and Indianapolis. And well, L.A. is a bit of a haul. There are more than dozen performances happening on the Phoenix stage between now and April 26. (Also, check out the Phoenix blog here for a Q&A with Ann Marie Elliott, the actor who plays Erika.)

P.S.S. In case you missed our subtle mention that this event was Part 2, there will be an Awkward Conversations, Part 3.

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