blackbirdonline journalFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2

Playwright’s Notes
Jacqueline Goldfinger

I wrote Slip/Shot before the Trayvon Martin shooting. The Michael Brown shooting. The Eric Gardner strangulation. I wrote it, as a white southerner, in response to the rampant but absurd notion that someone who experiences racism, sexism, or other denigrations has somehow brought it upon themselves, usually encapsulated in the ever popular wrong-place-wrong-time excuse exchanged among those with the privilege and power to escape these experiences.

I also wrote it as a witness to the journey of many of my white friends and family members, who do consciously believe in equal, compassionate treatment of the other—whoever “the other” may be in their community—yet cannot slip the conscious participation in oppressive social structures or the subconscious yoke of the beliefs of generations before them, which are so deeply ingrained that they show themselves in the million immediate reactions required in moving through everyday life.

Kevin Meehan and Rachel Camp. Photo by Johanna Austin.
 Kevin Meehan and Rachel Camp. Photo by Johanna Austin.

Slip/Shot is about a young white security guard who is startled by a young black man walking home and shoots him dead. We see the tragedy of the two families unfold: the black family’s loss and grief and the white family’s attempt to understand what happened, especially the white security guard himself, who has tried to follow an un-racist path but is afraid that his split-second reaction was, at least in part, due to the beliefs of the racist family in which he was raised. It is a testament to the destruction visited upon the present by our past and the universal struggle of figuring out how to move forward in strength, hope, and dignity.

The play and the ideas remained the same after Trayvon Martin’s name appeared in headlines, after hands were raised in memory of Michael Brown, after outrage at video footage seared our heads and hearts, and again, and again, and again, and again . . .

We can’t outrun our past so, the play asks, how do we choose to acknowledge it and come to terms with it, allowing our history to raise us up, instead of drag us down? I hope that by exploring these ideas—not as political polemics but as a complex aspect of human relationships—we can move closer to finding clarity and transcendence.  end of text

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