The arts can help us talk about race more effectively


The Appalachian Online

Lauren Merrill

The arts are one of the most universal, multi-medium languages that every culture has in common. It is important, especially for students who come into contact with people of other races on a daily basis, to learn how to talk about race in an open and understanding environment. This is why the arts play such an important role in the upcoming discussion about race.

Appalachian State will be recognizing Black History Month by using art to inspire conversations about race with a month-long event called “How We Talk About Race in 2016.”

On Jan. 31 there will be a staged reading of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Later in February, there will be a production of “Clybourne Park,” according to Stageagent.

“A Raisin in the Sun” focuses on a family dealing with the issue of race by portraying a black mother who wants to purchase a home in a white neighborhood.

“Clybourne Park” spins off of this plot by having a white couple buy a home in an all black community, according to a summary from Stageagent.

As a student, both plays should be seen in order to understand the the similar race relations from different perspectives. Seeing that difference, what happened and how it was handled are important qualities in race that students should understand.

In the upcoming weeks, multiple classes around campus will also be studying both of the plays in advance to their showing.

By understanding the material as a story, it will be easier for students to perceive the themes and take away a substantial meaning from it.

Seeing the plays first-hand will help students feel like they are part of the characters lives in a way. They will be able to hone in on the emotion and relate on a personal level by witnessing how race personally impacts the characters’ lives. It is easier to connect with a person’s struggles when you see it unfolding right in front of you.

As part of this community, we all need to be a part of this event to not only understand, but to become emotionally connected.

Arts play a huge role in the upcoming month with how we, as students and members of this community, can talk about race. Many issues present themselves when it comes to the relationship between our campus and the plays being shown. Students need to take advantage of the upcoming artistic showings because it is a great way for promoting diversity.

Both plays will be shown at the Valborg Theater on campus. “A Raisin in the Sun” will be shown on  Jan. 31, at 3 p.m. “Clybourne Park” will be shown Feb. 24-28. All of the showings will be at 7:30 p.m. except for the Feb. 28 showing, which will be at 2 p.m.

Merrill, a sophomore journalism major from Chapel Hill, is an opinion writer.