Good Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 Essay Example
Anna Deavere Smith, both the actress and playwright of “Twilight,” explores the events that happened in 1992. Rodney King, a black youth was beaten by white policemen who stopped him for speeding (Smith, 441). The play highlights the events that ensued after the only one policeman was convicted for the beating. The riots that followed in LA were a revolt of people who felt the injustice. Rudy Salas Sr. is one of the characters with the most intriguing sentiments. He is a painter and sculptor of Mexican descent. Also fascinating are the characters of Jason Sanford and Stanley K. Sheinbaum. The former is an actor while the latter is the former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Together, their characters bring out the feelings about prejudice and race and help in the illustration of the injustice surrounding the brutality.
Stanley K. Sheinbaum exposes the other side of the coin in reference to who the enemy is and the origin of the hostility. It would seem that there is a tense contest on either side as they view each other with suspicion. Stanley does not exactly consider the gangs he was asked to look into as the enemy, but is rather curious. His character explains how his friend Maxine Waters asks him to look into a gang at Nickerson Gardens. The cops are questioning the gang that Maxine explains may have a good purpose of calling a truce. The policemen clearly regard them as enemies and do not bother to question them. Stanley gets a note that says, “You went in and talked to our enemy (pg. 14).” Such sentiments showcase the perception that the police had towards the Mexican civilians. The hatred and distrust that they are always out to little or no good is clear in the statement. But Stanley does not hate the Mexican people. He says, “You know if I hung around long enough that I could talk to them (pg. 14). Got some insights” to clearly highlight his lack of hatred. The statement shows that the former commissioner has nothing personal against Mexicans, and that was why he tried to understand them better. He recognizes the racism in place but does not necessarily act on it. His fellow policemen, however, clearly despise them.
His feelings are distinct from those of Rudy Sales Sr. whose hatred was influenced by his grandfather. Unlike the case with Stanley, he hates white people and the policemen even more. His hatred strengthened when he went to school and couldn’t fit in because of the white teachers. He expresses himself through the very ironic statement, “and that enemy was the nice-white-teachers (Pg. 2).” In that statement, he asserts that even though the teachers are universally perceived as nice, they became his enemy. The reason is that they called him inferior because of his Mexican affiliation. Rudy seems to pass the message that even those who were supposed to be protective had been bitten by the parasite of racism. Teachers who are meant to protect children expose them to their insecurities. In this statement, it is evident that he had lost faith in all white people. His hatred built up when he was a teenager and policemen beat him to the point of deafness (Smith, 3). He says, “From that day on, I had hate in me (Pg. 3).”Rudy exposes the injustices of the police system. Unlike Stanley, he carries hate in his heart and recognizes that he has an enemy. Stanley K. Sheinbaum saw it only as a matter of misunderstandings.
Jason Sanford is indifferent to the two and does not bear any hard feelings. He, however, recognizes that the policemen treat him in a respectful manner because he is a white man. He notes, “They would be different if I was black (pg. 21).” The statement denotes to the unfairness that the police possessed and affirms the racial injustice that the police showcased. Mr. Sanford had been arrested severally but was still being referred to as a responsible American yet a young man was beaten for speeding.
The characters, above all, portray an element Americanism. They all recognize the disparities in color and the injustices that can sometimes emanate from the same. All of them recognize the fact that the system has a place for every person and can be judgmental when people are not from a majority race. They notice the difference in race and use it as a basis for all problems. Such is what identifies them as American characters. The impact of the message is strengthened when Anna acts all the roles. It comes off with a message to all the people to end racial injustices as opposed to it being a mere performance.
Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 shows us that even though people live in one big city, they are not necessarily in the same cohort. They continually live in the same place but are miles away in their thoughts and feelings towards each other. The differences in the way people look will always be an issue in a society that is too caught up in the history of racial discrimination. People need to feel recognized and appreciated. The pressure that is depicted in characters like Rudy, Stanley and the rest are only a result of a system that is unappreciative of the different origins of individuals. There are some of them that would appear not to care about the situation. For instance, Jason Sanford does not seem bothered even though he recognizes that there is a problem. Smith might have realized his passiveness during the interview. Other people might have intrigued her as much as they did the audience. The emotion that Rudy exhibits is particularly unnerving. Smith may have been angered by people like Stanley because they were in the position of providing change but did nothing.
The play may have been made in 1992 but its relevance can still be felt in today’s society. Racial discrimination takes many forms in America today. People from other cultural affiliation are still being called names and stigmatized. In some minority dominated parts of the country such as in Chicago, police brutality towards blacks has been reported. Therefore, the play was not very successful in getting the message home.
Smith, Anna Deavere. Twilight--Los Angeles, 1992 on the Road: A Search for American Character. New York: Anchor, 1994. 1-31. Print
Smith, Anna D. Twilight--Los Angeles, 1992. New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service, 2003. Print.
Smith, Bonnie G. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. Oxford [England: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.