answer-the-questions-and-respond-to-two-other-students

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Over the last two weeks we have been spending our time discussing “African American Theatre” the artists who have made substantial impacts to the genre and the to the culture at large and how we view these values, issues, histories, and social conflicts today as we reflect on the past. We have been doing this with the vehicle of the Theatre, the compelling stories and dynamic characters of our recent Black American History that have sprung from the roots, remembering’s and re-telling’s of what actually happened in our past and how we as a society wrestled with it then and today.

Last week you watched Fences and this week you watched Dutchman. Again we are looking at two playwrights who are challenging our view of the past and how the struggle for certain races to succeed and to rise in a white dominated world view are hampered and faltered not only by modern society, the social norms and decorum or code of conduct of the day, but also by the personal struggle and need for self identity in the face of a very rooted value system that had been lived in and ascribed to since reconstruction.

Now that you have done the reading and are able to reflect over the past two weeks, I would like you to wrestle with this quote from Notes on Dutchman.

“Baraka challenges the black community to produce art that portrays the human condition, and provides The Dutchman as a paradigm”………”It must be produced from the legitimate emotional resources of the soul in the world. It can never be produced by evading these resources”

What is the human condition that Baraka speaks to? How is the SYMBOL of the Dutchman (The name of an Infamous slave-ship in the 1700’s) and the train that the play takes place in, provide a “PARADIGM” for more effective storytelling? How do we understand the human condition (as Baraka sees it) in a better way? What are “legitimate emotional resources of the soul”? What does Baraka mean when he says this? Do you agree with his stance? Why or why not?

Now, as we look at this topic through the lens of our present day and 2017, how do you feel we are doing as a society in providing entertainment and the telling of stories (Theatre, film, T.V.) about civil rights generally, black history, and how we have progresses as a society since the first time that Dutchman or A Raisin in the Sun first made an impact on the American public and body-politic? How do we see recent movements like “Black Lives Matter” in the larger scope and context of this on-going historical conversation?


Start a thread and in subject put (your full name) –

Minimum 150 words – Use complete sentences and correct grammar.

**Part 2: Your Comments: Read and respond to two other students’ answers. Make sure you are specific and identify who and what you are responding to.

*First student response* (Rafael M):

What is the human condition that Baraka speaks to?

Baraka’s comment emphasizes the importance of creating art that is raw and unadulterated. The context of his comment was in response to the writing styles of other black artists whom he believed were providing a watered down version of reality. This watering down served to hinder the truth of the value of the black individual. He believed that there was specificity among artists that played to white America and was caused by the brutalization of black Americans. The human condition is an unapologetic and honest narrative.

How is the SYMBOL of the Dutchman (The name of an Infamous slave-ship in the 1700’s) and the train that the play takes place in, provide a “PARADIGM” for more effective storytelling?

In the opening act, there is a billboard at the back of the train labeled as the Dutchman. This immediately sets the tone that this vessel is another form of the slave ship. The view, or “paradigm” gives us the perspective that the passengers are trapped in a train that continues to move forward to some inevitable conclusion. A beautiful but deranged white woman and a professional and successful black man are on this train. While they are both on this vessel, it is the white woman who is almost exclusively in control, abusive, and tempting to the black man’s most base desires. She provokes, exploits, belittles, flatters, and insults the better character of the two.

How do we understand the human condition (as Baraka sees it) in a better way?

The human condition is a collection of experiences that are rooted in powerful emotion. To employ the human condition, we cannot leave out the power of those emotions when producing art. If the artists fail to incorporate all of the aspects of history, emotion, and soul searching, they cannot produce the art at the high caliber he encourages.

What are “legitimate emotional resources of the soul”? What does Baraka mean when he says this? Do you agree with his stance? Why or why not?

They are the cumulative experiences of how we deal with environmental factors such as oppression, inner struggle, conflict and the search for a purpose in all of it. Those factors are emotional catalysts that in his interpretation, come from a place that is deeper than intellect and stem from the flow of the human’s psyche and soul. They are legitimate in the sense that they are not limited to environmental or historical factors. The emotional element of the narrative is just as, if not more important than the former. Those resources spring forth from the soul. I agree with this. In an interview, he was speaking of how the poetry of his contemporaries was published in The New Yorker. He indicated that they wrote in a manner that was deemed to be friendly to the reader and not as controversial as the truth could be. He was a traveling companion of Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution. This exposed him to realities that could not, should not be censored. In a way, I believe that political correctness is an enemy of the truth. That it inhibits creativity and so much of what we believe in is driven by emotional passions that should not be ignored. If they are ignored, they lose legitimacy and the power to cause change.

Now, as we look at this topic through the lens of our present day and 2017, how do you feel we are doing as a society in providing entertainment and the telling of stories (Theatre, film, T.V.) about civil rights generally, black history, and how we have progressed as a society since the first time that Dutchman or A Raisin in the Sun first made an impact on the American public and body-politic? How do we see recent movements like “Black Lives Matter” in the larger scope and context of this on-going historical conversation?

I think that the fact there is only one black television network BET with only minimal ratings versus the many Spanish language networks in America with consistently higher ratings says something about the amount that is dedicated to African American theater and the black experience. There’s not enough. We learn about it in school, but so much is left out and I believe that there is still a large element of film and entertainment that serves to undermine the very struggles for equality that films about the past present. The glorification of black on black violence, the music industry’s portrayal of black men and women particularly in hip-hop are more popular among white audiences than stories about black achievement.

For example, why hasn’t Hollywood produced a big budget production of the Los Angeles riots of 1992?

Even so, politically, we have progressed as a nation. However, there is still the continuing racial divide. The politics of this country have us more polarized than in the 60’s. So much so that we are not willing to dialogue with our counterparts and a good example of this is the black lives matter movement. People who do not understand it, feel that way simply because they don’t want to listen to the people of black lives matter. Neither side wants to talk to the other and have a reasonable discussion. I think we still need writers and people like Baraka to stimulate the conversation that leads to progress.

*Second Student response (Kyler B):

What is the human condition that Baraka speaks to? How is the SYMBOL of the Dutchman (The name of an Infamous slave-ship in the 1700’s) and the train that the play takes place in, provide a “PARADIGM” for more effective storytelling? How do we understand the human condition (as Baraka sees it) in a better way? What are “legitimate emotional resources of the soul”? What does Baraka mean when he says this? Do you agree with his stance? Why or why not?

I believe that the human condition Baraka is speaking of is our situation that we are in. For example, using the play the Dutchman, the actor Clay was in a situation of being pulled back and forth as well as continually moving forward. Sometimes as individuals we get so wrapped up in a certain environment we are in that everything else disappears, yet doesn’t stop moving, leaving us in the dark.

The imagery and symbol that I took away from the film in connection to the Dutchman (slave-ship) was that Clay was essentially trapped on the train in a constant struggle and there was no way off. Essentially, he was enslaved by the train and under the assumption that his conditions may be improving.

In the article Baraka said, “legitimate emotional resources of the soul in the world” from my interpretation the part which says, “in the world” is very important and missing in the question. I believe Baraka is suggesting that the literature in question needs to focus on human emotion and not only portray and appeal to the feelings of the oppressed. We are all human and have similar ways of feeling certain emotions. Understanding this can heighten the call-to-action in these films and perhaps cause change. Nevertheless, from my interpretation I agree with Baraka’s stance.

Now, as we look at this topic through the lens of our present day and 2017, how do you feel we are doing as a society in providing entertainment and the telling of stories (Theatre, film, T.V.) about civil rights generally, black history, and how we have progresses as a society since the first time that Dutchman or A Raisin in the Sun first made an impact on the American public and body-politic? How do we see recent movements like “Black Lives Matter” in the larger scope and context of this on-going historical conversation?

I believe our society has taken great strides in respectfully detailing black history and the struggles, which had to be overcome by so many. The films “stir the pot” in a good way, while evoking emotional reactions from all races.

Recent movements such as “Black Lives Matter” are important in overcoming some of the day-to-day racism one might see. Although, these protests often turn violent, which does nothing for the movement. If the movement was renamed to “All Lives Matter”, in which banded together all races, could be much more impactful, as well as having the ability to bring people together for the greater good.

Remember, your answer needs to be at least 150 words total and use proper English grammar and syntax, and you must reply to at least two other students’ posts.

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