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smkyle1 Donating Member (170 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-29-08 11:21 AM
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an example of covert racism
When we were in grade school, my sisters teacher selected her to understudy for the main character in the class play which was to be performed in the school auditorium for the entire school and their parents. She was very excited about the opportunity to fill in for the lead even though she knew the odds of actually filling in for the lead were not in her favor.

My mother, however, was not pleased in the least about the teachers decision. Even though forty years have passed and I can still remember my mothers lack of enthusiasm and outright anger when my sister told the family that she was going to be the understudy. Nevertheless, my sister didnt let my mothers lack of enthusiasm put a dampener on her zeal. Truth is, neither my sister nor I understood why my mother was so upset. But we were children who hadn't yet been exposed to what was at the core of my mother's vexation.

In the months and weeks leading up to the performance, my sisters excitement didnt wane. She studied for several hours a day, rehearsing and memorizing. It got to be a bit much for the rest of the family but she successfully memorized all of her lines way in advance of the date of the performance.

Then came the performance. . . .
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Chovexani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-30-08 09:45 AM
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1. Very interesting article.
It brings to mind my own theater experiences in a predominately rich WASP K-12 school growing up. The theater department at my school was the only bastion of liberalism in the joint. Leonard Bernstein's son taught middle school drama at the time I went, and it was literally a haven for LGBT faculty and students, Jewish kids, PoC and other various misfits who didn't fit the Mayflower child mold. But even so there were issues sometimes, mostly due to parents freaking the fuck out over things.

When I was 11, the Upper School half of the department put on West Side Story. I had never went out for a play before, due to being painfully shy, but Mr. Bernstein encouraged me to try out since they needed Middle Schoolers for some of the younger gang members, and he thought I'd be good at it. I aced the audition, both the singing and speaking parts, and was psyched to see I got the part of Anybodys. I didn't realize this until years later, mostly because my mom, Mr. Bernstein and other adults sheltered me from it as best they could, but one of the rich white parents threatened to sue because their little darling didn't get in the play, and I did (because of course, any time a Negro gets anywhere it's due to affirmative action and not due to actually being the best at something). It's to the credit of the adults in my life that my only inkling that something was awry was the white kid in question flipping out on me in the hallway the day the cast list was posted, crying and having a tantrum because wtf, I'd never been in a play before, he'd been in all of them, blah blah blah. Basically acting like the spoiled entitlement whore that he was.

It troubled me, a lot, and I felt really guilty, until Mr. Bernstein told me to ignore that jerk, that he was being a big baby and that they picked me because they thought I was perfect for it. In hindsight, he was right, given that Anybodys was the spunky underage tomboy who wanted desperately to be a real Jet and not just a "Jet girl". Hell, that part was made for me. :D

I was vindicated when Leonard Bernstein himself showed up to closing night, and complimented my acting (he was very ill at the time--this was shortly before he died--but he made damn sure to come by and sign our Playbills and just generally be awesome to all of us). It took me years to climb down from that cloud. Not sure I ever really got off it. :)
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smkyle1 Donating Member (170 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-30-08 12:33 PM
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2. Great story!
Wow!! Leonard Berntein!! This just confirms for me, "God don't like ugly". It all comes back.

Thanks for sharing your story. It put a smile on my face.

I posted the original thread to this in the wrong place. I'm relatively new at posting to discussion boards. But I was trying to add to a collection of comments about covert racism. I'm just starting to explore the African-American Issues Group. There are a lot of great posts here. I have some other stories similar to the one about my sister. I'll post them and see if people think they're any good.

Thank you for reading. And, btw, there's no reason to come down from that cloud you mentioned. That gift was given to you for a reason.

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Chovexani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-30-08 02:56 PM
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3. Thanks!
Welcome to DU, by the way. :)

Don't worry about posting stuff in the wrong place. The AA group tends to move slower than the other boards here but it's a great resource. Lots of good folks here. We would love to hear some stories, we love to share them around here. :)
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smkyle1 Donating Member (170 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-03-08 09:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. I've checked out your site
I don't know if the site is yours but I found it by accident a few months ago. It's hilarious.
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