Twilight (1-149)

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.

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~ by alyyamaichi on May 25, 2011.

One Response to “Twilight (1-149)”

  1. Maybe it wasn’t that someone wasn’t always against someone because of anger, but more-so because of fear. It was as if no race could trust another. For example, in Rudy Salas’ monologue, he talked about how he told his sons to cooperate with the white cops and do whatever they say in order to stay alive. In addition to the distrust among races, there was also shifting blame or “finger pointing”, concerning if one race was more responsible for causing hardships of another.

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