Saturday, November 14, 2009

Religious/social/cultural/economic/racial... camps/ghettos

Interview on NOW August 11, 2006: David Brancaccio with playwright, actress Anna Deavere Smith:

I am quoting words, but to see/hear the video is so much deeper, IMO - see link below

BRANCACCIO: How do you hope your work— evoking these characters coming from so many different angles. How do you hope that it moves us in a more positive direction?

SMITH: One of the things I try to talk about whenever I talk to younger people, I do a lot of speaking at universities for example, is out of my experiences of having been in Crown Heights and Los Angeles in the '90s I came away with this metaphor that I call safe houses of identity. That we live in safe houses of identity. And— even in my generation, there was this promise in those— in those days that the— women deciding to be women, blacks deciding to be black, the anti war movement. That there was gonna be this whole new mix up. Everything's gonna be all mixed up. We were all gonna challenge the white hegemony. But what happened was it didn't end up being this mix up. There started to be these little identity camps.

And when I was in LA, I mean this was quite clear. I mean there's the Asians here, the black kids are burning Korean stores, etcetera, etcetera. So what I want to suggest to the new generation, younger kids, is hey guys how about if we come out of those well established houses of gays here, bisexuals here, all these little camps, were all these camps. How about if you come out of the safe house of your identity, where are you gonna end up? So it's kind of fancy words, but I said you're gonna be in the crossroads of ambiguity. And guess what, you can't go back to the house you came out of.

But out here in the middle where there is no house, in this crossroads of ambiguity, we might be able to get something really fascinating happening.

BRANCACCIO: And that's the public space.

SMITH: That's the public space. And I warned younger people it ain't safe. So I don't use words like safety when I teach. I talk about resilience. Knowing how to move, knowing how to be in motion, knowing how to deal with discomfort. So I think we have to get off of where we think we just know everything. And think about becoming more resilient about what we don't know. And getting better at asking questions. And having fewer answers. If we want to accomplish the kinds of things we want to try to accomplish.

Links to full transcript as well as video for above are here

If you want even more, Anna Deavere Smith was interviewed by Bill Moyers last night – links to video and transcript are here

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