The Justice Theater Project – Societal Impact Through the Performing Arts

From “A Soldier’s Play,” a murder mystery set in a 1944 desegregated army base in Louisiana. (Photo Courtesy of The Justice Theater Project)

Recently I have been introduced to a special gem here in the Raleigh – Triangle NC area – The Justice Theater Project (JTP.) Their tagline is “Celebrating thought-provoking, entertaining and inspiring theater since 2004.” The JTP has produced quality entertainment that addresses a wide range of issues of social concern as well as giving area non-profit groups free admission to shows and providing several youth summer summer theater camps with tuition assistance so all can participate!

As a diversity consultant, I feel the performing arts can be a powerful medium to address issues such a racism, homophobia, aging, economic inequality and more. Sometimes people need to be transported outside themselves and their daily lives to see something on stage or hear something in music that can communicate to them much better than a written editorial or a political debate.

Captain Charles Taylor was quite displeased when African-American Captain Richard Davenport was sent to Louisiana to investigate the murder of a black officer. (Photo courtesy of The Justice Theater Project)

Recently, I published the blog reviewing the book “Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump,” which chronicles the many forms of racism present within the USA from our founding days up to current times. I got plenty of comments debating if racism truly exists today in the US and asking me about racism against whites, as well as calling me a few names and using cuss words. Perhaps if some of these detractors saw JTP’s latest play “ A Soldier’s Play,” a murder mystery set in a 1944 desegregated army base, they may think differently about racism, internalized oppression and white privilege.

Blogs I published earlier this year about diversity and inclusion being promoted through the performing arts include:
“Promoting Diversity and Inclusion Through Bluegrass Music,” about an innovative annual concert called “Shout and Shine” of diverse Bluegrass musicians. This celebration came about in 2016 as a direct response to North Carolina’s oppressive HB2 “bathroom bill” discriminating against our LGBT citizens.
“A great diversity experience – Theater Breaking Through Barriers” about enjoying an off-Broadway play in New York City which featured actors with a wide range of disabilities.

The JTP’s current 2017 – 2018 season is titled “Equity and Identity” and will address issues such as racism, homophobia and classism. Though my diversity consulting practices covers all areas of diversity, my deep area of expertise is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), so I am looking forward to their February play “Bent” which is set in 1940’s occupied Berlin and confronts the persecution of the marginalized, particularly homosexuals.

Please seriously considering supporting the work this wonderful organization does in our community through sponsorship or becoming a season subscriber – details on the JTP website.

And if you are one of my blog readers from outside the area, perhaps see if there is a similar theater company in your community, or perhaps consider starting one!

Divided We Stand – Racism in America from Jamestown to Trump – A book review

David R. Morse, author and President / CEO of New American Dimensions

As a diversity consultant with a deep expertise in LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) diversity, about half my clients do engage me for all areas of diversity and inclusion, which includes race. Even though the diversity discipline has evolved from the initial areas of gender and race to now include LGBT, generational, cognitive, the differently-abled, and more; racial issues certainly need to continue to be front and center. (see my blog “The Various Growing Types of Diversity.”)

Though a good number of white people believe that the racial discrimination of the past is eradicated, the black community for the most part, as well as statistical realities, would indicate otherwise. And racial tensions continue to rage as we have seen in the disproportionate number of black men and boys killed by police, the black lives matter movement, and the increased number of race related hate groups becoming active in the United States. (see my blog “Facing the Truth – Racism Still Persists in the USA.”)

I have recently read a most fascinating book which places racism in the United States in a much broader historical perspective since the very beginnings of our nation’s founding. In “Divided We Stand,” David R. Morse provides a full historical account of the many forms of racism that has been a part of our country’s history. It is important to own this part of our history, and by understanding history, we can all work together to build a more just society.

The sections of this fascinating book full of interesting accounts and data include:

“Divided We Stand” is a fascinating book detailing various types of racism throughout the USA’s history.

• The early struggles within white mostly Anglo-Saxon America in terms of integrating waves of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Italy and Jews.

• The long African-American history from the days of slavery until today, including the doctrine of the “superior” Caucasian Race and the Jim Crow laws of the early 20th century.

• The history of Hispanic Americans starting with the treatment of the population already in the areas of the Southwest “conquered” by the USA up through the debate that continues to rage about illegal immigration.

• The history of Asian-Americans, their treatment and oppression during the gold rush days of California and the building of the western railroads, our government’s agreements with Japan, up to many who view Asians as the “model minority.”

• Scholarly discussion on the science around genetics and race, and then closing with the landscape of race relations in the USA today.

This book certainly made me aware of so much more of the history and dynamics behind the multiplicity of racial issues in our diverse country from its very beginning. And hopefully by understanding this history, we can all unite more rigorously to build a stronger country from our profound and unique blend of diversity.

I highly recommend this book!

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Direct LINK to order:

Author David R. Morse is President and CEO of New American Dimensions (link), a market research company focused on Hispanic, African American, Asian American and LGBTQ Americans.