The Fairy Princess is having a bad few weeks, along with the rest of the world. The news has been devastating each and every night. While she normally does not write about events that are ‘newsworthy’ – let’s face it, she writes about Diversity and Asian American theatrical representation, the events of the last weeks must be acknowledged.
And so…the blog:
It bears repeating that my thoughts and prayers go out to the Family of Robin Williams, who was a superlative performer and, according to all accounts, a superlative person in his personal life.
My small son had viewed Aladin the night before the announcement of his death, and was so filled with wonder and awe, his joy so apparent, that even at that simple moment, before we knew, I marveled once again, at the talent of Robin Williams and thought “what a blessing’ to have that kind of gift, that is accessible to all ages.
What should be spoken of is how much he gave, and how much we shall miss him, and how grateful we are to his Family, for sharing him with us all these years.
Thank you, Oh Captain my Captain….
The Fairy Princess would also like to share a story, given that she has also passed now, of meeting Lauren Bacall. By all accounts she was very feisty and the life of the party, with a razor sharp wit. It seems that everyone has a Lauren Bacall story and actually, The Fairy Princess has two, and she thinks that Betty would kind of get a chuckle out of her sharing them.
The first was viewing her on stage, 6th row in the orchestra, in her TONY winning role in the musical, WOMAN OF THE YEAR.
Being a mere 6 rows from Lauren Bacall leaves a lasting impression.
Luckily my Grandmother, who was a concert pianist, realized what was ‘happening’ and after the show, she bought me the Cast Album – on tape. So I ‘wouldn’t forget’. I had memorized it by the next afternoon and performed it for my Parents, and I remember my Mother looking at my Father and saying, “Well…I know how this is going to go now...”
After that, I was in love with every musical I came into contact with – except 1776 – and I set off on my merry way to sing and dance and befriend people of similar ilk. WOMAN OF THE YEAR always remained a favorite, and on my Senior recital, I even did a set of songs from the show. I could probably recite some of the songs, if not all, lyric for lyric even now.
In 2003, Lauren Bacall came to see a Broadway show that I was a cast member of, and she came backstage – well, our backstage was really an alley behind the theater, and I was thrilled to see her, almost at the same distance that I had first seen her in person many years prior.
We had a chance to speak and I said, “Ms. Bacall, I saw you in Woman of the Year when I was a kid, and I was so blown away. My Grandma bought me the Cast recording and I had it memorized by the next day. I think that is why I am in this business!”
And Ms. Betty Bacall looked at me for a moment, and then drawled in her inimitable way, “Woman of the Year? That old piece of sh*t?”
And then I said, “The camera is right over there, please smile”.
Thank you, Ms. Bacall, you gave us plenty to watch, and you lived ‘fascinating’ in such a way, that we all shared a tiny bit of it.
A true legend, a powerhouse, and the last icon to leave us from a great era of American Film.
The Fairy Princess would also like to send support and share her horror at the death of photojournalist James Foley, who the Islamic State Militant Group known as ISIS has claimed to execute. She has no words. He was doing his job, and he was killed for what he was, as much as who he was. Many thoughts of peace go out to his Family and Friends.
And then we have the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.
Michael Brown had been visiting his Grandmother, when he was stopped for jaywalking. He wound up with six shots in his body, which killed him. Four shots to the right arm, and two to the head. His body, his corpse, was then left lying in the street for hours while law enforcement tried to figure out what to do with what had just happened. They did not call for medical assistance for Michael Brown, he was not rushed to any hospital. He died, in the street, and was left there for hours.
Michael Brown was 18 years old.
Michael Brown possessed no weapon.
The Fairy Princess has her own opinions about why Michael Brown was stopped for jaywalking. Michael Brown, who was set to start college two days after he was killed, was killed because he was not safe to walk the streets in his Grandmother’s neighborhood as a young man of color.
The Fairy Princess knows that in most places in America, it is not truly safe to walk around alone as a Person of Color….or as a Woman, or as a Elderly person, or as an openly LGBT person, or as a small child. For a majority of the population, to be caught walking alone by someone bigger, or someone armed, or someone intent on doing harm to us who is hanging with like minded individuals is a daily nightmare.
It can be seen as women brace themselves to walk past a group of men who are likely to catcall, it can be seen in the tensing of young men in sweatshirts when a patrol car drives slowly by them or a large pickup truck filled with individuals who may have been drinking. It can be seen in the elderly, who strive to be home before dark. It can be seen in the way parents hover over their children, fearful that this day, when one is a minute late to the bus, your child will no longer be there.
We would like to believe this not to be true, we would like to believe that as we journey into far away lands to ‘fix’ things, we remain a shining light to aspire to – but this is not the case.
A shining light to aspire to in the Western World is Canada. They have Universal Health Care, Marriage Equality, Police who patrol unarmed, and great skiing. Not to mention maple syrup, Sandra Oh, and Michael J. Fox.
The United States falls far behind, and with the violence in Ferguson, we are falling even further.
Fear of other people, fear of people different than oneself is the monster under America’s bed that no one is talking about.
People fear those who have advanced learning. People fear those who have no learning at all. People fear science. People fear people who substitute religion for science. People fear skin color, but they fear more than that talking about why they fear people with different skin color than their own. People fear falling in love just as much as they fear being alone. For every fear there is a reaction – and what we are seeing in Ferguson is the reaction to fear – and it is anger, and it is being met with water cannons, tear gas, and rhetoric.
It is time for America to stop perpetuating this cycle – in the daily lives of their citizens, and as policy makers.
The Fairy Princess read an article written by Michael Bell, whose son was also killed by police, ten years ago in Wisconsin. His son too, had been stopped on a pretext, and wound up with a gunshot point blank to the temple, so close it left powder burns. There was a reaction there too, and it was spearheaded by Mr. Bell – remove the ability of the police to investigate themselves.
Mr. Bell wrote at length about it, and also is in favor of having cameras on officers and in patrol cars, which has been shown to reduce violence in police actions by 60 %.
Both of these steps sound like morally actionable changes that can improve the chances of a Person of Color surviving being stopped for jaywalking. Both of these things sound like something honorable and diligent Officers would want to have implemented. There is no reason to fear either of these actions – independent investigations and cameras on officers and in vehicles not only protects the public, it protects the police as well.
We cannot return the life of Michael Brown to his Family, to his Friends, or to himself. What we can do – all of us, People of Color and Caucasians in this country, is change the conversation from fear to legislation. Change how we respect one another, change how we listen to one another, change how we focus on differences, and instead try and focus on similarities.
Ghandi said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”
We need not wait.
We have waited long enough.
For Michael Brown, and so many others, we have waited too long.
Let us not wait any longer.
My condolences to the Brown Family at this wretched time.