By Lee Hubbard
Donald Lacy in Afro wig.
National news was made recently when comments from United States Senator Harry Reid from Nevada described President Barack Obama as a “light skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one” in a off the record interview during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The comments were made public in the book “Game Change” which gave a behind the scenes look at the 2008 presidential campaign. Reid quickly apologized for the comments, which dealt with President’s Obama skin color and President Obama quickly accepted his apology. Reids comments were the topic of editorials, columns and various conversations that dealt with race, racism, skin color and what is acceptable to the dominant white society and within the African American community.
Issues dealing with color, race and racism are addressed in the thought provoking play ‘Colorstruck,’ a one man show written and performed by Donald Lacy and directed by Michael Torres. The play premiered recently at the Buriel Clay Theatre at the African American Cultural Center in San Francisco. Colorstruck looked at race through the lens of Lacy’s life as a child growing up in East Oakland in the mid 1970’s. His life shadows the end of the civil rights era and the start of the black is beautiful and black power moements.
The play opens up with Lacy behind a projector screen shouting out the names of various black historical figures who appear on the screen ranging from the historian CLR James, to black activist Malcolm X to acting couple of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. After reading off the names, Lacy comes on the stage and begins to talk about blackness and color, with his unique perspective.
As a fair skinned black child whose parents were much darker, he deals with the issues that he had to face as a child,. His black friends would always question him about his parents and ask if he was adopted. Lacy uses humor, drama, dancing and spoken word to tell of his childhood and adult expereinces, whiich examine the historical ramifications of race and racism and how it is used not only from the broad community, but within the Afridan American community.
He deals with topics ranging from hair, dancing, politics, to being harressed by the police as a ten year old kid. Colorstruck last 80 minutes and at times it can drag on. Other times, it cuts short meaningingful issues that could be broadened even further, but the play will make you question how you look at yourself and others.
At the start of the 20th century famed social scientist W. E. B Dubois stated that, “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Lacy uses this quote to get to the meaning of his play. We as a nation have been stuck dealing with the issues of color since this nations founding. While some people may believe we are moving towards a color blind society, Lacy shows that color and the images behind color have always been around us and will countinue to be for a long time.
Lacy will be performing in Miami at the Colony Theatre in South Beach, Feb. 1-7th. He will be in New York in March. He has dates taking place in Northern California during black history month at the University of Santa Clara, San Jose State and San Francisco State. For more information go to the web site, www.colorstruck.net.