â€śThe Blue Door,â€? which is set in 1995, is about Lewis, an African American math professor who struggles with his Black identity one night as he suffers from insomnia. His wife, (who is White) encourages him to join in the Million Man March by challenging his â€śauthenticâ€? identity. He refuses to go and she leaves him alone in the house with his thoughts as her request for a divorce rings in his ears.
Lewis spends the night alone. He sits in his chair reflecting on why his wife all of a sudden wants a divorce. Before she left him, she made the argument that their relationship had not been authentic in quite sometime because he refuses to be true to himself. To make matters worse, Lewis is visited by three ghosts of his past: his great grandfather who was a slave, his grandfather who was lynched because he tried to vote, and by his father who, to Lewis, was never be proud of his son no matter how much he achieved academically.
The play brought up some important themes to my mind: Oneâ€™s â€śauthenticâ€? identity, lack of connection to oneâ€™s history and race politics. Lewis struggles with identifying as a Black man, not because he hasnâ€™t ever experienced racism or discrimination, but because he thinks that Blackness, in general, means being â€śghettoâ€? or uneducated. He doesnâ€™t seem to be very proud of his roots at all, in fact, he has done his best to distance himself from fitting into stereotypical â€śBlackâ€? roles. I identified with Lewisâ€™ plight to some extent, because I understand why his character would try to cling to anything but a â€śtraditionalâ€? race role. I know that I sometimes think that if I distance myself from â€ścultural thingsâ€? then I am distancing myself from the discrimination and racism that comes along with those actions â€“ even thought thatâ€™s not at all true.
Lewis also discussed the lack of connection he has to his personal history and how conflicted he is about it. He talked through some issues that he had with negative aspects in his familyâ€™s history such as alcoholism, drug abuse, slavery and poverty. He seemed to conclude that the only history he knew were the bad things. So, in absence of the knowledge of positive events in his history being passed down, he felt as if there were none that where important enough to be passed down. As Lewisâ€™ ancestors visited him throughout the night, they told him about their lives (in an abridged version) and shared with him several stories of racism and how they fought against oppression. Recently, I have learned so much about the importance of history and how it is essential to know about past event in order to better fight against oppression and social injustice. I have always taken history for granted before coming to college. In my high school, history was AP US History or AP European History, the latter being much more encompassing for world history, but still very White and not very inclusive. I sometimes envy African Americans or Black Americans for the access they have to their civil rights history, it seems like I donâ€™t know what my history is. I realize that many African/Black Americans are unable to chart their lineage specifically due to slavery tearing families apart without record, but I almost feel as if Iâ€™m in the same situation. For some reason or another, my familyâ€™s history doesnâ€™t go back that far â€“ and for many of my racial connections I have to rely on my parents recollections as my ethnic facts.
Lewis also talked about race politics in terms of racism and the Million Man March. He said that he didnâ€™t feel Black enough, he didnâ€™t feel connected to the oppression and plight of his brother, and maybe that didnâ€™t bother him, or did it? He was confused on why he was confused. He wanted to just live his life and not have to think about race, but he knew it was impossible. Maybe Lewisâ€™ race wasnâ€™t as important to him as it is to other people of color, but he knew he couldnâ€™t escape the fact that he was a man of color in a room filled with his peers â€“ who were professors and university administrators.
I found myself frustrated with Lewisâ€™ inability to connect to his racial history and I kept thinking, why is he distancing himself? It does no one any good! I also found it hard to sympathize with his reasoning on why he didnâ€™t join the Million Man March â€“ how could he miss a once-in-a-lifetime experience? I realize that his character is now just beginning to unearth his buried feelings, and I was once there â€“ so I guess I can empathize with him, and just write it off as social justice educators say, â€śeveryone is in different places in their own journey.â€?
Overall, I liked the play, but it didnâ€™t go as deep as I wanted it to go, and I left feeling slightly disappointed. I thought it would be a serious heart-wrenching experience, but it was not - it seemed more pedantic and scripted rather than a passionate look at race. I was unable to stay engaged, so much so, that I started get restless about 45 minutes into the play (it was an hour and a half, with no intermission!). However, I am glad I went because at times, I found myself thoroughly interested in Lewisâ€™ dialogue with his ancestors, and I think that their scripted conversations pushed me explore some other branches in my own social justice tree.