Law and Race
Posted by Adam Benforado on January 26, 2011
On Friday, I took in the new Philadelphia Theater Company production of David Mamet’s Race. The plot revolves around two lawyers, one white and one black, who take on the defense of a wealthy white man accused of raping a young black woman.
The acting was quite good and the play has its moments (as one would expect, the structure is ingenious and Mamet throws in a number of memorable lines), but I was left wondering whether the playwright had challenged the audience enough. If the purpose was to spur viewers to think deeply about race, was the exchange of quick, witty quips between characters the best means? Mamet seemed to want to shock his audience, but what he produced seemed fairly tame — and enjoyable.
Today, I came across a video on the Onion addressing a very similar topic (law and race) and was struck by how, on a certain level, it seemed to surpass Mamet’s creation in forcing viewers to confront hard truths about race in the United States.
In any case, I strongly recommend viewing both (the Onion video, “Judge Rules White Girl Will Be Tried As Black Adult,” is below)!
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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see
- “Jennifer Eberhardt’s “Policing Racial Bias” - Video,”
- “Guilt and Racial Prejudice,” and
- “The Situation of Black and White,”