Twilight Los Angeles 1-150

•May 25, 2011 • 5 Comments

The play starts off with a woman talking about her past. She had been singing for as long as she could remember and she was great at it. I’ve read this part over a few times and I can’t figure out the reason why it was placed at the beginning. Was it to evoke feelings of a simpler time?
The Rodney King incident started off as a high speed chase beginning on the freeway and continued through a residential area before the police were able to corner him. The police officers said that King was aggressive and resisted arrest, so they had to apply force. Rodney King left this incident with a fractured skull and internal injuries. The four police officers involved with the incident were charged with assault but were found to be not guilty by the grand jury.
After the woman’s flashback, the playwright interviews one of the officers accused of beating Rodney King. Ted Briseno talks about the worst part of the incident, which is the fact that he wanted his kids to look up to him. From this statement I feel that Briseno regrets having been involved in the episode because he knows that his image is tarnished and that his children will constantly be harassed about it. He talks about his older brother joining the military and how he admired his uniform. They were from a small town so the police uniforms there weren’t glorious, but in the city the uniforms were amazing. Ted Briseno loved the uniform. With the uniform comes power or implied power over civilians.
The former president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Stanley K. Sheinbaum told a story about his encounter with gangs. He talked about the conflict between the gangs and the police and how the two were enemies. The police were actually mad at Sheinbaum because he talked to the gangs. Stereotypically gangs are seen as trouble makers. According to dictionary.com a “gang is a group or band, a group of people with compatible tastes or mutual interests who gather for social reasons.” So the former president does not see a problem with trying to get to know the gangs. He does not think he should be on a certain side and I agree with him.
An interview that I found very interesting was the interview from Frederico Sandoval. He said that a lot of people actually did not know what was going on with the Rodney King case and that people were just following along because others were doing the same thing. This reminded me of the Invisible Man when the riots started in Harlem and no one knew the exact reasons for the riots. Mob mentality!
Below is a video of the Rodney King incident. I could not find the full video. I actually don’t think they released one. It’s pretty brutal. The Latasha Harlins video can be found on youtube.

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Twilight Los Angeles, 1992 pg.1-150

•May 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The book Twilight Los Angeles 1992 is written by Anna Deavere Smith.  This book is filled with many different stories of people that were part of the L.A. riots in 1992.  The reason for these riots was because of the near death beating of Rodney King, who although was at fault did not deserve the cruel batons by members of the Los Angeles Police Department.  All of this was caught on tape by a witness and the four police members were put on trial.  After these trials they were acquitted which caused a massive uproar in L.A.  This was known as the L.A. riots of 1992.

In the beginning of the novel, a man named Rudy Salas tells of his story during the L.A. riots where he was severely beaten and had to be put on a hearing aid after a police member destroyed his eardrums.  These type of actions on minority peoples such as Blacks and Mexicans filled them with hate against the white people.  Then we here the testimonial of a police commissioner who speaks with a gang members at a gang related meeting.  He was curious of these people because he put them in a different category then ordinary people.  There was an interesting conversation with the MOC member Theresa Allison who was scarred after seeing children killed in drive by shootings.  It just goes to show that these times were very dangerous and many people were injured or killed whether they were a minority or not.

In the chapter interviewing Sergeant Duke, he speaks of how his officer Powell does not know how to work a baton correctly.  He was one of the members that got acquitted in the trial on Rodney King.  Josie Morales was also interviewed who witnessed the beating of Rodney.  She was right next to George Holliday when they saw how the beating went.  She describes how gruesome the event was and that it was wrong even if the person getting the beating committed a crime. This chapter really showed how bad this event was and that it was something that should have been looked into.

Another interesting chapter was the Riot chapter with Chung Lee who was Korean.  It is written in a Korean dialect that really shows the diversity of people that were affected by these riots.  He is a store owner in L.A. that got totally looted because of this event.  There were similar chapters in this book like the Richard Kim interview where he was the victim of the riot attacks.

This part of the book shows the violence and distress in L.A. through the perspective of the people that were involved.  It showed how terrible a riot in America could turn out and that any type of rebellion would result in severe damage.  It also goes to show that people are very prideful of their race and do not like the white majority being all powerful after all the years of being put through racism, discrimination, and slavery.

Twilight (1-149)

•May 25, 2011 • 1 Comment

Anna Deavere Smith’s, Twilight, is a book with several different interviews from people in Los Angeles describing the riots that were occurring in 1992 in the United States.  Twilight is also a one woman play, acting as some of the people interviewed.  Smith interviewed about two hundred people—people of different races, occupations, backgrounds, classes etc. who lived in LA in 1992.

The play starts off with an interview with a colored man—a Mexican man.  He explains how the color of his skin caused him to become enemies with the whites.  This sets up one of the main conflicts of why the riot occurred because of the verdict of Rodney King, which later awakened LA.

Rodney King was horribly beaten by white LA police officers who were eventually found not guilty.  This all began when King was being chased for speeding and someone recorded the officers beating him.  After this was shown publicly, LA turned into chaos and many conflicts erupted with killing, burning and looting stores.

Here is Rodney King’s beating.

These interviews consist of different people who spoke about their own perspective or situation on what was occurring during this devastating time.  I’ve noticed that all of the people interviewed were extremely shocked and dumbfounded by what was actually occurring in their hometowns.  Even though the people who were interviewed were of different races, they still all felt the same way.  People of all color were getting shot for no apparent reason and the ones who helped were risking their own lives.  Businesses were getting looted, which risked the lives of the owners, family members were being killed and threatened; everything was crazy.

It seemed like the police officers were taking an advantage of their authority by beating other colored people because they were trying to keep the society “safe.”  In the 1992 interview with District Attorney, Gil Garcetti, he talks about how there is some kind of “magic” that police officers have and states, “You want to believe the officers, because they are there to help you, the law-abiding citizen” (Smith, 75).  This “magic” consists of their attire and their stereotyped “role” in society.  I have noticed that this is quite an advantage for the whites and police to get away with unjust crimes they are committing since they are there to “protect” the people.  It is amazing how these citizens who are “protecting” LA caused young children to carry around guns, smacking innocent people in the heads with them or even shooting people on the streets.

Due to the white, non-guilty police who beat King, white jurors were also targeted as being racist as discussed in the interview, “Your Heads in Shame” with the anonymous juror.  As this man is trying to get into the bus, a reporter states, “Why are you hiding your head in shame? Do you know that buildings are burning and people are dying in South LA because of you?” (Smith, 71).  He was targeted as a racist white man whose family received threats because of his decision on the verdict.

LA was not only dangerous for colored people during this time, but also for the whites.  Everyone was against someone because of the anger that was created by the unjust LAPD.

Invisible Man (479-581)

•May 21, 2011 • 9 Comments

This section starts with Harlem in an outrage over Clifton’s death. Many important events and changes result from the aftermath of the shooting. With the community so riled up, Ras is able to gain support and attack the Brotherhood for their lack of involvement. One significant result is that Ras gains much more power and becomes much bolder. This can be seen in his name change from Ras the Exhorter to Ras the Destroyer. After debating with Ras, the narrator is forced to run away from some of Ras’ men and adorn a disguise. The result is one of the most interesting parts of the novel.

After purchasing dark sunglasses in a drugstore, the narrator is mistaken by many as a man known as Rinehart. The really weird thing is that the narrator is identified by many different people, and that these people know Rinehart for different reasons. It is very bizarre that Rinehart is recognized as both a prostitute and also a reverend. It is also very interesting that Barrelhouse, who would have recognized the narrator, also misinterpreted him for Rinehart. This brings forth quite a conundrum- everyone seems to know the narrator, yet nobody actually knows he is. This contrast in identity is very important for the narrator- it highlights the differences between his self-image and what others take him for.

Another turning point is reached when the narrator talks to Brother Hambro. The narrator is shocked to learn that the brotherhood is planning on “sacrificing” the narrator’s district to pursue different goals. This twist is very important and exposes the idea that the narrator is just being used by the brotherhood. This ironically parallels the idea about the magazine article from earlier in the story, except that the brotherhood is using the narrator solely for their own advances, as opposed of their accusation of the narrator using the interview for personal gain. After realizing their true intent, the narrator interprets his grandfather’s advice as a way to get back at the brotherhood for using him.

The narrator finds even more betrayal after the riot erupts in Harlem. The narrator learns that the Brotherhood had been deliberately giving power to Ras and was at fault for causing the riot to break out. After much chaos, the narrator runs into Ras and his men. During the chaos, the narrator’s glasses broke, effectively destroying his identity as Rinehart and leaving him totally exposed to Ras. At this point, the narrator realizes that he is truly invisible, and that becoming a martyr would do absolutely nothing, because nobody would remember his cause.

The novel ends with the narrator trapped in a sewer. This part of the story completes the narrator’s transformation and self-realization. While imprisoned in the darkness, the narrator decides to burn the contents of his briefcase. The narrator’s past identity is completely burned away, including his high school diploma and his letter of recommendation from Bledsoe. By destroying his past, the narrator has finally completed his long and arduous transformation. By saying “the end was in the beginning,” I think that the narrator was hinting that his old self was slowly changing ever since the first events of the novel, and that the all the events in the story helped show his progression and transformation.

Invisible Man

•May 18, 2011 • 7 Comments

The narrator runs into a woman named Mary once he leaves the subway station. When he was leaving the subway station, he passed out on the street, and she took care of him. The narrator was able to get along with her very  well, because she shared his background of being an African-American, and moving to New York from the south. When the narrator is about to leave Mary’s, she offers him a place to rent. when he gets back to the Men’s house he realizes that he no longer can live where he has been staying and starts thinking about taking Mary up on her offer.

When he gets to the Men’s house there is loud laughing man that the narrator mistakenly thinks is Mr. Bledsoe. he then grabs a spittoon and empties it on the mans head. After doing so he realizes that the man in fact, wasn’t Mr. Bledsoe. He runs out of the place before he is caught. The narrator starts to think about the people that were meeting in the house. I believe that the were extreme political actors, and possible that they were for the communist party. the narrator believes that they are wasting their time. He thinks that the belief of African-Americans having success and the true post civil war ideals for freed slaves is unrealistic.

The narrator thinks about his stuff that he left in the house and wonders how he is going to get it out. he finally gets a man to do it for him, and he finds out that he has been banned from the house. After this he decides to go to Mary’s. While living at Mary’s the narrator feels the pressure to become a prominent African-American man. Mary has high hopes for him, and the narrator doesn’t know if he likes it. However, when he is behind on payment for rent/food,  Mary never says a word. Even though the narrator criticizes the thought of “equality” he begins to desire becoming an leading activist.

Later, after buying yams that reminded him of the south from a street vendor, the narrator comes across a mob of people standing outside watching an African-American couple be evicted from their home. When he saw a chair being lugged out with a woman still in it, he decided to take a stand. He rants about the indecency and gains support. the people standing around help the couple move their belongings back inside. Although this was the humanitarian thing to do, it was still illegal, and soon the police showed up. just when the narrator thought he was going to be able to escape he was approached by a white man that swore he was a friend. The man was apart of a political movement that tried to gain equality. The narrator thinks this is ridiculous. he opposes to being apart of it. I think at this point the narrator has no trust to give to a “white” man. he has been misguided to badly to suddenly jump into a group led by a man he just met.

Later, he thinks of all the things Mary as done for him, and believes that he owes it to her to rise up and no longer rely on her for food and a place to stay. The narrator gets in touch with the man that approached him earlier and decides to become apart of his group. This is a very important change for the narrator, because he is finally giving up his beliefs that thinking change is impossible. He puts his trust into the man, however i don’t think that he is going to let himself get screwed over again.

Invisible Man (Pages 151-295)

•May 15, 2011 • 7 Comments

In Chapters 7 to 13, in the novel Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, the narrator struggles to adapt in a new environment. The narrator takes a train north in search for a job so that he could gain back Dr. Bledsoe’s acceptance and finish off college. When he arrives to Harlem, he is shocked to see black men and women rioting in public while a couple of police men are joking around the corner. “For me this was not a city of realities, but of dreams” (page 159). The narrator is at awe of what he sees around him. In his reality, blacks are expected to hide in the shadows and do what they are told. Confused and immature, the narrator’s beliefs fade away as he rediscovers racism.

After moving up North, the narrator is very skeptical of his acceptance amongst the white people. He comments on the white peoples’ apologies after bumping into him in the crowd, “Still I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me…” (page 168). It is weird to think that although people acknowledged the narrator’s presents and begged for his pardon, he still feels invisible. Later on, the narrator goes to a drugstore where he is offered pork chops, grits, one egg, hot biscuits and coffee. This offends the narrator. He thinks the cook assumed he would want the special because he was from the South, so he orders orange juice, toast, and coffee instead. As he leaves the drugstore, his assumption is contradicted when he sees a white man being served a plate of pork chop and grits.

The narrator didn’t receive any replies for the first six letters he sent out, so he took a different approach on the last letter.  For this letter, directed towards Mr. Emerson, he received a reply. The narrator ends up in a deep conversation with a young man at Mr. Emerson’s office.  The narrator gets aggravated that the man would not let him see Mr. Emerson and questions, “What have you got against me? You, a northern white man” (page 189). The man turns out to be Mr. Emerson’s son and shares the letter with the narrator to help him out. It turns out the letters, written by Dr. Bledsoe, discredited the narrator and promised his disenrollment from the college. Young Mr. Emerson continues to offer his help, but the narrator turns him down.

The narrator uses a number given by Young Mr. Emerson to land an interview at Liberty Paints. He was put to work right away. The white paint seems to symbolize race. Although the paint starts off nearly black, it could be mixed to turn into pure white. Physical colors could mask one’s true identity. After the paint job, he is assigned to assist a man named Mr. Brockway, in the basement. Here, Brockway and the narrator get into a physical fight. Brockway rigs one of the boilers to explode and the narrator is sent to the hospital.

In these last couple chapters, the narrator goes through stages of rebirth. At the hospital, it is noted that the narrator feels very vulnerable instead of safe and treated. After the hospital, the narrator runs into a black woman named Mary Rambo at the subway. This woman becomes his friend and takes care of him. In Chapter 13, the narrator makes a heroic move by making a speech to help a black woman keep her house. When the police arrived, they accused the narrator of interfering with the eviction. A white girl helps the narrator out. These actions were not acts of good between race, but acts of good between mere citizens.

Invisible Man (Page 1-150)

•May 10, 2011 • 8 Comments

In the novel Invisible Man, we are introduced to the main narrator who clearly states his identity to the reader in the first line of the Prologue “I am an Invisible man” (3). The narrator, who still remains nameless is not physically invisible but acts more of a symbol of others not seeing him for the person on the inside, but by his outer judgement. In the prologue the narrator tells the reader the outcome of the novel as he is living in a hole, a basement where he is getting vengeance on society and gets free electricity and has 1,369 in his house.

The main themes of the novel are the start to the narrators invisibility with dealing with the issue of race divisions and hierarchy, while learning to discover where he stands as a black man.

In Chapter 1, the narrator takes us back twenty years where he remembers his grandfathers curse before his death who told the narrator’s father, “Live with your head in the lions mouth” (16), meaning that the key to success was to obey and agree with the white man. Taking the curse in mind, the narrator is invited to give a speech at a battle Royal for his good conduct and graduating high school. Little did he know that is was a trap set out by the elite white man as he and other negro boys were sent to the ring, and faced shame as a naked stripper danced in front of the men, and the boys just watched and tried to keep it together. Then, After being blindfolded, they chaos arose as the boys were fighting one another, and where humiliated more as they were being shocked to receive fake gold coins on a carpet for the white men’s amusement. I found it ironic that after the narrator was bleeding and in pain, he still managed to give his speech and the men questioned him in an angered tone when he said, “social equality ” (31). Knowing his place in the racial hierarchy, he then says it was a mistake. The Irony follows as after the speech he receives a college scholarship and accepts it besides the fact that he was humiliated immensely in one night.

The beginning of the narrators journey that questions his being begins in chapter 2. The narrator is in his third year in college and is a driver to one of the trustees and original founders of the University. A wealthy white man, Mr. Norton. As the narrator drives Mr. Norton around to waste time before his afternoon meeting, this is when Mr. Norton explains that the narrator and his people are his fate, and he must tell his the outcome of his destiny. The series of unfortunate events began as the narrator takes Mr. Norton to see one of the old slave cabins, and he tells him about the event that occurred when Trueblood, a poor rural farmer impregnated his daughter. Outraged, Mr. Norton gets out of the car and confronts the man for an explanation. The ironic part was that Trueblood actually gives him the whole story detail by detail when Mr. Norton was not a cop or had any legal right to demand an answer. Trueblood explains how it was a cold night and his daughter Matty Lou slept with him and his wife Kate, and how they got erected through a dream, but his daughter was seducing him. What made it more ironic is that Mr. Norton gives Trueblood $100, which at the time may have been a lot of money and tells him to buy the children toys with it.

The event continues in chapter 3 when Mr. Norton is upset by the story and asks the narrator to get him some whiskey. Hesitated, he takes him to the Golden Day, which is basically a brothel. His plan is to go in, buy the whiskey and leave, that way Mr. Norton will not have to see the veterans that were insane. But life makes it harder for the narrator, and he gets denied to take alcohol outside. Mr. Norton becomes unconscious, the narrator thinks he dying and a state of panic enters his mind. He takes him inside the Golden Day, and gives him the whiskey, then commotion occurs as one of the veterans that thinks he’s a doctor helps Mr. Norton,throughout the whole time the narrator just wants to leave as the veteran starts making fun of Mr. Norton’s idea that the African-Americans fate is his destiny, meanwhile the narrator is scared and wants to leave.Mr. Norton faints again, but they leave and return back to the University.

Chapter 4 discusses the outcome of the narrators actions as he tries to apologize to Mr. Norton, and is fearful to see the dean’s reaction. Doctor Bledsoe was furious at the narrator over the locations he took Mr. Norton and how that will give a negative effect to the institution. What the narrator found interesting was that Doctor Bledsoe was very kind towards Mr. Norton, a white man. Doctor Bledsoe worked very hard to have the position as president as the university, so he felt he was at the same level, if not higher than the white man. When Doctor Bledsoe  saw his head, ” he cried, a strange grandmotherly concern in his voice” (103). Mr. Norton tries to stick up for the narrator, but he knew in the back of his mind that Doctor Bledsoe will punish him.

In chapters 5 the narrator attends church in the campus’ chapel. he becomes amused by Reverend Barbee who speaks about the founder of the college, and the great vision of the school, which he took part in. His words were so impacting that the narrator later finds out that Reverend Barbee is blind when the narrator sees him blind. The narrator is still concerned about what he was going to do if he got expelled from college, worrying about the humiliation from his friends and parents.

This leads to chapter 6 where Doctor Bledsoe gives it to the narrator hard and expels the narrator as the narrator humiliated the school by showing Mr. Norton what he wasn’t supposed to see, and encouraged him to lie to the white man “You’re black and living in the South- did you forget to lie” (139)? The narrator tried to fight back, but Doctor Bledsoe attacked him by making him feel like a nobody, an invisible compared to his power. “You don’t exist can’t you see that? The white folk tell everybody what to think – except men like me”  ( 143). The narrator felt like an “infant”. Doctor Bledsoe offered him a job over the summer in new York, and it became ironic that he accepted his offer, besides the fact that the man humiliated him, and that night the narrator packed his belongings and just left the next morning agreeing “he’s right; the school and what it stands for have to be protected” (147).