How could “Talking With” be accepted as an appropriate production by the university’s theatre department? I found myself sobbing on Saturday afternoon while exiting the play during Claire Parker’s monologue “Twirler” after she said twice, “Baton twirlers are like the niggers at a white university.” Parker’s character said the lack of respect a baton twirler receives is equal to the amount a black person doesn’t receive. Did Claire Parker or even Harry Parker, chair of the Department of Theatre, understand what they were doing when they allowed Jane Martin’s words to be repeated on our stage?
Do they understand that black people were slaves to white people for centuries? Do they know that black people were not allowed to receive a proper education, but allowed only to look after white people’s kids while prohibited from loving and caring for their own children? Do they care about the fact that black people were segregated from whites in schools, movie theatres and in public restrooms? How about the fact that blacks had to ride at the back of the bus so whites could conveniently rest?
I understand that “Talking With” is about eleven women who have different problems and passions, bound to be delivered with sadness, fervor, love, or absurdity. But to allow the monologue “Twirler,” or the entire production for that matter, to be performed as entertainment and use that word, which has dehumanized black people for centuries, in order to deliver stupidity is offensive and ridiculous.
Barbara LeBanks is a sophomore English major from New Orleans.