Recently a school in Columbus tried to put on the play, To Kill A Mockingbird. The drama teacher at the high school was concerned about the racial epithets used in the play. The play/book is set in the south during the dperession. In it Atticus Finch, a white lawyer, defends a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman. The story portrays much of the backlash from the racist community, which is where the racial epithets come in.
Concerned that the strong language may upset some people in the community, the teacher asked the local chapter of the NAACP what they’re opinion of the play was. Surprisingly, the NAACP asked that the world not be used in the play. The word in question is, of course, “nigger.” The school, however, could not obtain permission from the publisher of the play to change the word.
The NAACP is not reacting to this in the correct way at all. The person who the teacher contacted was a local president of the NAACP, or something along those lines. She stated that she gave her personal opinion, as opposed to an official statement. That may be true, but her personal sentiments can’t be that far from the organization’s.
It seems that they are so wrapped in blocking the use of a single word that they completely forget the bigger picture. To Kill A Mockingbird is a story about equality and what it means to stand up for one another. Atticus Finch is an equal rights hero. While the story does contain some hate, it is cast in a bad light as an object lesson. This story has been read by english cases and performed by drama clubs throughout this nation and is probably responsible for a lot of people’s racial enlightenment.
For the NAACP to block its production because of a single word is nothing more than short-sightedness and ignorance. If they were truly interested in easing racial tensions then they would embrace this story and encourage the performance.
Most black rap artists use the term “nigger” repeatedly throughout their albums, where is the NAACP’s outrage in that situation? I know the organization has discouraged the rappers from using the term, but the level of outrage in that situation compared to other times the epithet is used just doesn’t seem consistent. Why is the artistic use of “nigger” reasonable for a rap album, but not ok in a play about equality set in the south during the depression?
It seems NAACP is holding a double standard.
Also posted on Say Anything.