My Dear Friends and Readers,
We are less than three weeks into the New Year. My resolutions and the way I live life are centered around my core values which are beauty, giving, teaching and health. Although, it has been only 18 days in this new year, I have seen and heard and read creative works which have affected the way I think and perceive and therefore write.
One of these educational moments occured during a partial watching of a television show called “American Crime”. The show, which I watched while getting dressed for dinner, was a story about a same sex rape which occurred within a high-school basketball team after a game. The story line was that the team (unsurprisingly) secures a large quantity of alcohol for an aftergame celebration. One of the team members drinks to the point of throwing up and blacking out and all of it is caught on a cell-phone. (It was not made clear whether the rape had also been captured by cell-phone.)
Through the television show, the audience witnesses the emotional and physical aftermath of the rape from numerous perspectives, where each person has complex and often competing desired outcomes. The audience witnesses the continued (even if unintended) humilation the young man who is raped endures. The young rape victim must retell and relive the rape as he tells a female police officer what he remembers before he had blacked out.
We see the horror that this event has even occurred through the victim’s mother’s eyes. The mother is anguished for her son. She is angry and yet guilty because somehow she feels as a mother she should have prevented the rape from happening. The mother is also very angry at the perpertrators and she (rightfully) reports the rape with the hope that the perpertrators are punished. She reports the rape despite the pleas of her son who simply wants to stuff the rape in a dark place, because he is has not been able to integrate the rape into his reality.
The show’s viewers then witness how the school officials respond. The school officials want to distance themselves from the rape to prevent repercussions legal or otherwise. The victim’s team mates also want the incident buried and we hear the victim’s best friend tell him to “forget it.”
Two additional plot twists provide an often unseen angle to a rape story. The community in which the rape occurs is wealthy and the victim is a white male member of the group. These interesting plot devices allow the audience to see the resources available to a rape victim when money is not an issue. This caused me ask, if the treatment of the rape victim portrayed by the television was reflective of “under the best of circumstances”, what happens when the victims are poor and not white and not male? What happens then? Dos the crime get reported? Is the girl blamed and shamed? And will there be consequences for the perpetrators? These questions may not be answered in the upcoming episodes, but they were questions that I was forced to think about.
The other event which altered my perspective was an article about philantrophy. The article’s bottom line was that just because you are doing good does not mean that you are good. It seems simple when stated that way, but the article suggests that often times the structures created to relieve the wrong-doing is created from the source of the wrong doing. This would be like a slave -owner who starts a school to teach slaves to read while still maintaining slaves. The teachers who teach the slaves are doing good, but they are also making a living from slavery. As a result of reading the article “Just Because You Do ‘Good’ Work Doesn’t Mean You are Good – Michael Lee Writes” I will no longer call myself a “philanthropist.”
Finally, the third event that altered my perspective was a jazz concert held at a former car dealership which had been re-purposed as a music and art venue. I used to say that I did not understand jazz because much of what I heard of jazz did not have lyrics. Saturday night, I gave up the need for words- and slipped into the flow of the music. I came to understand that there were musical and instrumental confines to jazz as the musicians got lost in music that only they could hear and shared it with the audience via their instruments. The event was a creative opening to be able to be present to something I did not understand but could appreciate never the less.
I close wishing the wish for each of us to look for the humanity in each other as we commerate the birthday of Martin Luther King.
Brianna S. Clark
The Addict Writes