Misunderstandings and inaccurate assumptions between people of good will, both white people and black people, are causing divisiveness, conflict and communication problems. These are even preventing people with shared goals of social justice from working together effectively.
The Stain is presented to bring these issues to the surface. The play is written and directed by Carla Harris Spady. It has been written and is performed as a conversation starter in dialogue. In a workshop/conference or church event, the play is performed, then a moderator(s) facilitates dialogue.
The play is fifteen minutes in length, with a minimalist staging and two actors who enter an honest and at times tense conversation about their personal understanding and experience of racism.
The goals of the play are:
- To create dialogue between and among the audience after they see the play.
- The play and dialogue are provocative enough that people in the audience understand a bit of the impact and role of communication in interracial / multicultural dialogue. Additional self-awareness by people would be good, too.
These messages are consistent with Eric Law’s theories without specifically teaching his models. These messages are acted through dialogue and action rather than stated explicitly.
- Barriers to interracial dialogue are caused by misunderstandings and/or the fear of misunderstanding. Misunderstandings are most frequently caused by:
- A person says words meaning one thing, and the person they are talking to listens to the same words and hears something different.
- A person acts or says words based on their experience, but another person observes the actions or words and interprets them differently based on their different experience.
- In both cases, people are quick to presume a negative intent by the other.
- It is a myth that interracial misunderstandings can be resolved by finding commonality. What is actually needed is recognizing and respecting differences.
- The reaction to the experience of different cultural / racial behaviors is productive when treated with interest rather than judgement.
- Understanding and eliminating racism is a process. i.e. Being “woke” isn’t an end point, it’s a process.