Our region has been having a lot more public conversations about race in the last few years. Black Lives Matter had a big rally Saturday, facilitators like Jasen Frelot are training families on how to tackle the issue, and productions like “Dear White People” are breaking open the topic onstage.
Now journalist Marcus Green is preparing his most ambitious contribution to the subject. It’s not an article, though. It’s a play.
“Caucasians Anonymous” is about people who struggle through what Marcus describes as an addiction to whiteness. And coming up at Town Hall Marcus will host a group of actors in a live reading of the play that will be followed by a Q&A with anti-racist white activists. (A live reading originally scheduled for Sunday, April 23, has been postponed. See note at the bottom of this post.)
This isn’t a new topic for him, just a new medium. Marcus is the founder of the South Seattle Emerald, a news site launched in 2014 for one of the most racially diverse areas of our city.
Marcus wanted to write a play, he said, because fiction has a “huge power to transform” that traditional journalism doesn’t.
Plus, there’s this: “As much as we think we’re this enlightened city, we can always do better,” he said. “We can always do more.”
Marcus got the idea for the play after a woman lost her patience with a panel discussion in Columbia City. The discussion followed a screening of the film “I Am Not Your Negro,” a documentary that explores the history of racism. The woman, who was black, told the crowd, which was 40 percent people of color, that she was “tired of panels like this.” White people, she said, should be talking to other white people about race.
So Marcus imagined a scenario in which a group of white people helped each other recover from an “addiction to whiteness.” The name of the play, “Caucasians Anonymous,” is meant to be analogous to Alcoholics Anonymous. Except in this version, Marcus likens an addiction to whiteness to an addiction to power.
“It’s always hard to give up expectations afforded you if that means you’re equal with everybody,” he said.
The reading will last about 20-30 minutes. After that, trained facilitators will lead people through a discussion to explore their own assumptions and biases about whiteness and race. That’s the part of the evening Marcus is most excited about.
“At the end of the day we’re all in this country together,” he said. “Hopefully people can come with an open mind and an open heart as well.”
This “Scratch Night” reading of “Caucasians Anonymous” is a kind of workshop for the play. Marcus hopes to see the play produced onstage this fall.
Update: The “Caucasians Anonymous” reading was postponed from Sunday, April 23, to a future, unannounced date. We’ll update again when it’s back on the calendar.