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Introduction

Featured in her own play acting Smith Anna Deavere Smith plays different characters of ordinary people in order to bring out their stories. She narrates the Los Angeles Uprising according to different public figures standpoints. Examples of these public figures include Darly Gates who is the Police Chief, Charlton Heston an actor, Los Angeles former editor, Shelby Coffey III, the former president of Los Angeles Police Commission, Stanley K. Sheinbaun as well as Ruben Martinez who is a journalist. Smith also gives the story in accordance to ordinary peoples stories. Smith does this by changing herself and using the individual’s words as well as mimicking how they talk, their dressing, attitudes and manners. The play opened people’s eyes to see one of the worst disasters that occurred in the history of the United States.  At the time Smith was making her play, the city of Los Angeles was facing violence and quite a lot of fear. Reason for the violence was a video clip whereby four L.A police officers were seen thoroughly beating a black motorist who went by the name Rodney King. After the four police officers were acquitted, is when the violence erupted.

Character 1 Identity and attitudes

One ordinary character in Anna Deavere Smith’s play is Elvira Ever who is both a general worker as well as a cashier at the Canteen Corporation. She is a new mother judging from the baby bottle she has in her hand. She is also in her forties and is black with a gold coated front tooth. In the play she explaining her ordeal of getting shot while she was pregnant “Frances am bleedin” (Smith 94). She was however taken to the St. Francis Hospital where her baby was found to be fine especially since the baby’s heart was beating. Elvira’s was attended to by a doctor called, Doctor Thomas who after operating her found that the bullet had also reached the baby’s elbow. Nevertheless they operated on both mother and child and everything went on smoothly. Her attitudes do not clearly come out, however after she was shot it is easy to see that she does not condone the forms of oppression black people go through like Rodney King did.

Character 2 identity and attitudes

The other public figure character in Smith’s play is Paul Parker who is the defense committee chairperson. Parker is in his twenties and well built and speaks very fast. In the play, he talks about how his brother Lance was accused of having attempted to kill Reginald Denny by shooting him. He also bitterly talks of his father who eleven years ago was shot in the streets due to attempted robbery. He is complaining that when a white person gets shot everyone is up in arms but if it is a black, Latino or Indian person no one cares “if Denny was Latino, Indian or Black, they wouldn’t give a damn” (Smith 116). He continues to talk about the Reginald Denny beating that was in the limelight the world over for quite some time all because he was white according to Parker. He cannot understand why when a white man is the victim everyone has to sympathize with him while black people are treated in a very bad manner “you raped our women, you pull us over daily…” (Smith 117). Parker demands justice and self respect particularly for black people. He states that without justice, there will be no peace and so he will fight for it until he gets it so that someday his children will know what he did and be proud of him.

Song identity and attitudes

Dr. Dres song the day the niggas took over which he sings with the other famous musician snoop dog is about the issue of race and ethnicity. According to Dr. Dre in the United States black people are not welcome and so their presence is a bother especially to white people “if you ain’t down for the Africans here in the United States, period point blank (Dr. Dre intro line 1)”. Dr. Dre is in support of fighting for the rights of black people who in his eyes are oppressed “how many niggas are ready to lose?” (Dr. Dre Bridge 1). Dr. Dre appears to be bitter about the racial situation happening especially in the United States.

Comparison/ Contrast

When it comes juxtaposing the characters attitudes it is clear to see that they have almost similar attitudes when to come to Rodney King’s situation that resulted to the riots. As for Dr. Dre his opinion involves using violence to avoid a scenario such as that of Rodney King “me not out for peace and me not Rodney King….( Dr. Dre  Verse 1 line 3)”. He states that the fact that one is black, no matter how much power or money you have one still remains a slave.  This is why he chooses to fight for respect and justice.  His attitude is similar to that of Paul Parker in the Twilight play. Reason being Parker also says that he would rather result to fighting for both respect and justice since he reckons it will never be given to him by the white people “no justice no peace”.

The main theme in both the play and Dr. Dres song is the issue of racism especially on black people. They are not given the respect they deserve simply because of their color. All the same, when it comes to how the riots affect the ordinary and the public figure there is a difference in that the public figure is able to protect themselves. The issue of racism has brought completely different characters together due to the opinion they have on black racism. Parker, Dr. Dre especially have vowed not to sit around and let injustice continue; they are going to do something about it even it means using violence. Racism here does not matter whether your rich or poor, if you are from the black race, you do not matter as compared to white people.

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