Wednesday, July 23, 2008


by Keith Josef Adkins

Five years ago something bone-crazy happened. A white benefactor contacted a national playwright membership to commission someone to write a story about a real-life incident involving a black man at a white college. An African-American playwright was chosen and that playwright set out to write one hell of a play. [For the record, I'm NOT talking about myself].

When the play was finished a reading was set up for the generous benefactor to hear and cheer.

During the reading the benefactor said nothing. She blinked, belched even from what I'm told.

But she said not one word. After the reading, she pulled the membership administrators to the side and informed them she was not pleased. In her words—the African-American writer was too close to the material. She preferred a playwright who could translate the story and leave out the emotional and personal connection. [Now this last bit was my interpretation of what I describe as blatant insanity, but hey, let me have that.] Needless to say, the African-American playwright was pulled from the gig, and the benefactor extended a new commission to a non-black writer.

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