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October 12, 2008


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I probably shouldn't say this, but when Mom and I go to the movies (or any form of popular entertainment), we have a sort of game we play where we count the Black people. Every time we see a face darker than a brown paper bag, it's actually some kind of event.

ME: Look! There go one!
MOM: Where?
ME: Right there, almost near the - nevermind, you missed it.

We also have a game where we sort of inject Blackness into White characters based on their behavior. When a character does something that strikes us as particularly ethnic (not in the BET or WB sense, just based on what we observe of our own people everyday), we say, "Soandso got Black in him/her" (or something to that effect). It's actually meant as a complement, but it's also our way of coping with the overwhelming Whiteness of a lot of the things we see, things that would ordinarily make us unable to enjoy simple things like going to the movies or watching TV.


Let me ask a difficult question: since you mention that Ray Anthony's role was described in the script as being African-American, was it either explicit or implicit in the script that the other characters were not?

To use a familiar example: in producing Huckleberry Finn, it's pretty clear that, for Jim's African-American identity to affect the play in the intended manner, that Huck, Tom, Huck's Dad, the Widow Douglas and most of the other characters in the play are white. It's difficult not to cast according to race when race is the *subject* matter of the play in question. (It's why the idea of an all-white "Raisin in the Sun" is ludicrous.

I'm really interested in your thoughts on this aspect.


Hey mark,

In KINDNESS the characters refer to Ray Anthony Thomas several times as African American and that that would be problematic for their family if one of them was to date him. So they at least need to be not African American. I'm not sure it necessitates that they be White. There's plenty of racial attitudes against dating Black people amongst other people of color. I can't remember if in the play they reference that they themselves are white, although there's all sorts of typical mid-western white culture signifiers w/r/t the characters.

I agree with you about Huck Finn although I'll say the difference between Huck Finn and KINDNESS is of course eras and demographic trends.

(And again (just to reiterate) my point is not that Adam Rapp should have cast Asian actors or whatever for the rest of the cast in this particular show, but rather to document as systemically as I can what's going on with casting, whose stories are being told and how)

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