Jul 25, 2012

Justice and Black

Apartheid, segregation, racism, affirmative action, civil rights movement, "sans-papiers" in France, etc... Strong phrases and expressions linked in a way or another to the (just or unjust ??) treatment some people receive because of certain physical traits. What course of action to take to eradicate these? Why can't we all just get along?

After following the long and tiring Health Care a.k.a. Obamacare feud over the past year or so and following the recent US supreme court decision to uphold the controversial law, I have been looking a little bit into this not so public branch of the US government: The Judiciary.  
My investigation led me straight to one of the 9 most powerful people of that branch: Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the USA. He is the second black man in that position after the beloved Thurgood Marshall, and because of his very strong conservative beliefs and rulings, he is portrayed by many in the African-American community as a traitor or at least a hypocrite because he is in favor of striking down many of the laws that create governmental programs to help minorities, some of which he might have profited himself to get to the top of the chain.

Personally, I disagree with him on many issues, but I can't help acquiescing to his idea that minorities (Black, Hispanic, Women, etc...) cannot possibly keep fighting for their God-given right to be considered at the exact same level as the corresponding majority and then insist on having special treatment policies based on the fact that they are different. 
For example, Justice Thomas argues that preferential treatment under the pretense of affirmative action or equal opportunity employment/admission will build "a cult of victimization", i.e. it implies that minorities REQUIRE special treatment to succeed. I feel uneasy every time I hear the argument that affirmative action should be in place to repay for the historical discrimination. Do not get me wrong, I am not against it, I just believe a better argument could be presented, such as the fact that statistics have demonstrated that individuals from minority groups tend to excel when given the opportunity, especially those from a more or less poor background, it's a fact.

We could probably debate some of these ideas, but it doesn't underplay the fact that Justice Thomas is one of the most important figures of contemporary history and definitely a man worth knowing. Check out his interview on 60 minutes.




The (Not so) Normal Heart

OK! So, it looks like I might be falling in love with staged theater (thanks Fauna! #Sarcasm), who knew? Well a few days ago I went to watch my first professional Broadway play, at the gorgeous Arena Stage: The Normal Heart

The Tony award winning show written by Larry Kramer is a passion-filled count of the experiences, mostly horrific, of a few gay activists in New York City, during the early days of the HIV pandemic.
It would have been cool if Jim Parsons (Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory) was actually playing; he was in the original Broadway crew, but was not available for the DC tour. 

At any rate, I had no background info on the play until I got there: I was mostly in an artistic mission, looking not at the depicted story, but all the other external aspects of such a production, i.e. anything that would convince me to abandon my TV (acting, clothing, stage props, decoration, lighting, etc...), and from my front row seat (a man can brag!!) my eyes were right where they needed to be.

Verdict: I was mesmerized! The level of production is phenomenal. The fast-paced dialogue and change in between scenes, the details in the clothing, the choice of lighting sequence and the acting, etc... It's amazing what they can achieve with a hospital bed, a table and 3 chairs. I think I understand why I love Aaron Sorkin so much, as he was first a playwright before migrating to television.

Because I was so captivated by the production, I had to listen to the story which although has brought a third of the crowd to tears, lacked perspective in my opinion. The author chose to make his points almost only from a unique view, that of the modern LGBT: open, proud and loud, not afraid to get out not only from the closet but also from the house and their comfort zones to challenge the system, not hesitating to use questionable political maneuvers. The lead character Ned and his doctor Emma are prime examples and their monologue is very touching. The obvious goal from the playwright and director was to get to the heart of the crowd, but they somewhat failed to get to me.
I feel like some of the other characters could have been used a little more to bring other viewpoints: The other two activists, for example, who preferred to make back-room deals and concessions without trying the issue front and center, maybe because they were afraid to lose their job (I am thinking about the guy from the city's Health Services who had been fighting for gay rights even before the HIV issue) or other consequences to their actions.

No matter what I think of this, I feel very strongly about the quality of the show presented on that stage, and well now theater is definitely on my list of sources of entertainment.

P.S: Oh and yeah, the Jewish jokes were on point ;)

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