By Lynette Kalsnes
By Diana Ladd
Last week, I attended one of those uniquely Jackson events that national media never seem to know about when they paint us with a broad brush. It was a performance of “Defamation,” a play by a Chicago playwright that allows the audience to act as jury and decide whether a black woman or a Jewish man should win a defamation suit she brought against him because he assumed she stole a watch from him and then caused her to lose business as a result.
Much like the film “Crash,” the play has all sorts of circular prejudice messages wound up in it and some powerful lessons about ingrained racism most of us never see, especially if we’re white and part of the majority culture.
He got the idea to explore this question after he had with his niece. At the time, he was living in Winnetka, and his niece was 12. She told him: “You know, we hate people from Winnetka.”
“And I said, ‘Really, why is that?’ and she said, ‘Well, You don’t have any black people, and everybody’s rich.’ And I said to her, ‘Well, if you hate people from Winnetka and I live here, that means you also hate your uncle.’ It reinforced the notion stereotypes are dangerous.”