The Conversation Will Never Be Over

by Jessica Lefkow

in Diversity & Inclusion,National Conference

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(This post is a part of the Diversity & Inclusion blog salon led by Online Curator Jacqueline E. Lawton for the 2013 TCG National Conference: Learn Do Teach in Dallas. Check out further Diversity & Inclusion interviews on Jacqueline’s blog.)

This post is a part of the “Defining Identities” series.

I find that what I really get passionate about is the idea that whatever words we use, we will always have to talk about differences in experience which are influenced by cultural markers that are larger than self.

In her excellent introduction to Svetlana Broz’ Good People in an Evil Time, Laurie Kain Hart writes;

“On the one hand, people lived side by side with others of different traditions, and at varying rates intermarried with them, erasing or subduing the markers of difference in succeeding generations… On the other hand, distinct neighborhoods did exist in many localities, and people tended in the majority to marry within networks of ethnic community… [T]he fact is that it is normal (author’s emphasis) for both kinds of networks to exist in human societies.”

This is why ‘post-racial’ is such toxic gobble-de-goo; it supposes that we no longer have to admit that ethnicity is a meaningful marker of experience in America. Or that we’ll ever get to the place where we can or should forget that such experiences differentiate us from each other.

The conversation will never be over. Life’s not neat like that, thank heavens, and each of us will struggle to find personal truth and meaning within and across all of the communities we claim for ourselves, allegiances which last a lifetime or sustain us for a single era of growth.

Until such time that we manage to make ethnic differences largely inconsequential to opportunity and cultural ascendancy in this society which we claim for ourselves- not anecdote by anecdote but by each cold hard number which gives the lie to the current use of terms like, ‘post-racial’-  shouldn’t it be vitally important for us to engage with each other about such  things?

Jessica Lefkow is a director and performer currently based in the DC area, after many years teaching, directing and performing in Asia & Europe. She is a company member of dog&ponydc. Recent performance credits include Bootleg Shakespeare and Riot Grrrl productions with Taffety Punk Theatre Company, Gulfshore Playhouse, (Naples, FL) and Brave Spirits Theatre Company. Jessica directed the World Premiere of the Helen Hayes Award-winning Honey Brown Eyes (2009 Best New Play). Other Washington-area directing credits include productions with the National Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, Doorway Arts Ensemble, The Inkwell, The Hub Theater, Montgomery College, 1sst Stage, Allysin Currin’s BENCHED (independently produced with Allyson Currin, Beth Hylton & Liz Mamana) and several original pieces for the Capital Fringe Festival. Jessica’s directing work has also appeared in the Source Ten-Minute Play Festival, the New York Fringe and All for One Festival. Readings and workshops include numerous projects with Theater J, (including dramaturgy/course instruction, Identity, Conflict, Social Justice; Contemporary Jewish British Playwrights and their Plays) Washington Shakespeare Company, Theatre of the First Amendment, Spooky Action Theatre Company, WWIT.  Jessica is a Teaching Artist with the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Young Playwrights Theater. She has been accepted as an MFA candidate for the 2014 class of the Academy for Classical Acting at GWU. Jessica is a member of SAG-AFTRA.