This past Sunday, we saw a play that examined these issues in a provocative, dramatic way. Freedom, NY written by Jennifer Barclay was expertly staged by Teatro Vista at the Theatre Wit in Chicago. The story takes place in a predominantly African-American town in upstate New York. Mayflower, her granddaughter Portia, and their neighbors confront their basest fears when Gabriel, a Mexican immigrant, moves in next door and begins preparing for the Day of the Dead. How the story unfolds and how they reconcile their fears with their desire to act fairly and decently presents a gripping story. I won’t say anymore about the story line because you should see it for yourselves. You won’t be disappointed.
Although Freedom, NY is about the conflicts among three main characters, it provokes thought about larger issues some of which are being debated in the United States as we speak. Are we actually keeping ourselves safe by continuing the War in Afghanistan against Al-Qaeda? Do we make ourselves more secure by continuing to keep Payton Manning in prison without formal charges for allegedly leaking secrets to Wikileaks? Or is it actually dangerous to have fully open speech? What price do we need to pay to be reasonably secure from further terrorist attacks in our post 9/11 world? All these questions are brought to mind in Freedom, NY. Where does the line of being reasonably cautious end and the line of paranoia begin? I think that we as a nation need to examine these issues and find a good balance that assures our safety as well as our civil liberties. I’d appreciate hearing from all of you here. We all need to raise our voices about this subject.