Folami Williams and Bryce Michael Wood in Smart People at the Kitchen Theatre.

Smart People: What We Talk About When We Talk About Race

“Maybe it’s a fact we all should face / everyone makes judgments based on race”. This lyric, from the musical Avenue Q, was one of the first things that popped into my mind as I walked out of Smart People at the Kitchen Theatre — a play that delves unreservedly into the difficult, yet ever so relevant conversation of race, prejudice and, most importantly, our fear of that conversation itself. Written by the award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond and directed by the talented Summer L. Williams from Company One Theatre in Boston, Smart People is wildly funny, gripping and remarkably thought-provoking at its core. It dares us into the daunting task of thoroughly reevaluating ourselves and the world around us. With an innovative opening sequence involving projections of various news headlines and the voice recording of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign announcement, the play unfolds around four main characters: Brian, a white neuroscience professor at Harvard who has dedicated himself to finding a neurological explanation for racism and prejudice; Ginny, Brian’s fellow psychology professor at Harvard who studies and counsels Asian American women suffering from anxiety and depression; Jackson, Brian’s best friend, a black surgeon in residency; And Valerie, a young black actress who participates in Brian’s study and later works for him as a research assistant.

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SHERMAN | Trump Protest Art Doesn’t Work, and Liberals Should Understand Why

        If nothing else, the never-ending tenseness of the mainstream news cycle since Trump’s inauguration has shown that Americans of most political dispositions are welcoming of breaks in the barrage for levity, rarely though they’ve come. The “covfefe” foible, more so than anything else, was proof of this: if America’s right and left didn’t exactly find humor in Trump’s goof for the same reasons, they were at least, however briefly, laughing about it together. It’s been a similar story for the most recent marquee protest of the president, a 30-foot-tall inflatable chicken — coiffed and gesticulating just like the commander in chief — which was inflated behind the White House on August 9. Already and with bemusement from both sides, it’s been given a name, a hashtag, a Halloween costume, dozens of news articles and (of course) hundreds of memes. But its sheer ridiculousness has, in large part, clouded what might be the most important thing it’s been given: a political stance.

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BENITEZ | America, Open Your Borders

Developed nations have always been reluctant to welcome anyone but the most skilled of laborers into their fold, regarding people beyond their borders as admissible insofar as they have something to offer economically.

Editorial

EDITORIAL: ICE Arrest Shows Limits of Sanctuary Cities

Last Wednesday, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 32-year old Mexican national and Ithaca resident Jose L. Guzman. The event was confirmed and only widely spread once reporters investigated the swift and shocking arrest, a bleak reminder that federal agencies are operating faster than ever under the auspices of the  current administration. ICE has become more active over the past few months, increasing their arrests by a staggering 32.6 percent only a few weeks after Trump assumed the presidency. Under the Obama administration, federal agents were directed to focus on serious criminals  — now, empowered by the new administration, ICE is increasingly merciless in its efforts to deport undocumented immigrants, even those with no criminal record. “Before, we used to be told, ‘You can’t arrest those people,’ and we’d be disciplined for being insubordinate if we did…Now those people are priorities again,” a 10-year veteran of the ICE agency admitted to The New York Times.

Editorial

EDITORIAL | Reed’s Vote for AHCA Bad for District

The American Health Care Act is a misguided piece of legislation that, if enacted, could result in the loss of health care for tens of millions, increased premiums for the elderly, reduced protections for those with pre-existing conditions (encompassing everything from asthma to pregnancy to cancer to prior sexual assault), and signal the return of lifetime limits and reductions in employer coverage. This is a bad bill for America, and a bad bill for New York’s 23rd Congressional District.

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GROSKAUFMANIS | Rewriting the News

One of my favorite columnists, Jonathan Capehart, wrote a piece last Friday on President Trump’s first 100 days in office, titled “An Appreciation.” In it, Capehart says that Trump’s presidency hasn’t been as bad as he expected, and states that “[Trump] is responsible for the greatest surge in civic participation in half a century.” And while I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that exchanging Trump’s leadership for civic participation is a worthy trade, I think Capehart is spot-on in identifying the growth those who didn’t get what they wanted last November. We’re coming together now because we have to. I wish we didn’t have to, but at least we are.