I went to a Facing History Community Conversation with Anna Deavere Smith tonight. I will probably blog more things about it, along with some thoughts about LA and community and 1992 and race and things. For now, I’m thinking about this response Smith had to an audience question about her interview with Young-Soon Han (whose voice is featured in “Swallowing the Bitterness”).
The question came from a Korean-American woman who was living in New York in 1992: “Was there anything that didn’t make it onto the page? … Was she standing on top of her store with a gun?”
My transcription skills are not what they once were, although having the work iPad with me was helpful. (n.b. The iPads were donated; my nonprofit is all about fiscal responsibility.) The following is parts of Smith’s response:
“The feeling of the whole interview (was that) I was with an elder in the community. … There was a sense of a community, even though it was just the four of us.”
[not verbatim: She was also grieving because her husband had died not too long before that. She also kept apologizing for her English.]
“She wanted that feeling of community, but she said there’s just ultimately too much difference, and she couldn’t make that bridge. I felt that one of the remedies for her — one way that people dealt with the trauma was to try to learn more, so very often Korean-American people that I spoke to were very savvy of the broad race picture, and how they sometimes even saw themselves as proxies for white people.”
Also thinking about the opening remarks from Marti Tippens Murphy, the LA Director of Facing History. Paraphrasing: “As a child, I was told if I was ever in danger, to go to a police officer for help. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that not every child is told that.”
My roommate and I discussed race, erasures, model minorities, interracial dating, and the Asian-American experience on the way home, and then while throwing together a late dinner. More thoughts later. In the meantime, if you haven’t had the chance to see Anna Deavere Smith perform, get thee to a YouTubery. Also, read the book.