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Social Inequality and Belonging TDPS 25AC

HOW DO THE CHARACTERS IN WHO SHOT LA MIGUELITO EXPRESS A SENSE OF BELONGING AND HOW DOES THIS IDEA RELATE TO THE ISSUE OF SOCIAL INEQUALITY?

My object of study is the play Who Shot La Miguelito. More specifically, I will analyze the characters individually and as a whole in order to determine how they create a sense of community. The play will help me draw parallels between the community in the play and real life communities and this will allow me to better understand the way in which people communicate with each other. The slang used between characters, the body language that the group shares, as well as the beliefs they agree upon are integral in discovering how a group of people create a sense of togetherness and why it is important for human nature. The main idea of my project is to discover how a group creates the idea of belonging and how it is represented in some cases as a way to stay safe, to garner courage, and to stand up for what one believes. This idea divides society into sections and an inevitable result of this schism is social inequality. For example, the rich stay friends with the rich and may sometimes look down on the less fortunate while those less fortunate bond over being tormented and that is what brings those people together. Insight to this idea can provide a way to fix this problem through the facilitation of how groups are divided and the minimizing of discrimination towards another. The methods I will utilize is taking notes on the play to capture the aforementioned ideas. Also, going to the library and reading about social inequality in America and trying to figure out certain origins of discrimination. I will then draw a connection between community and belonging to the ways that it can enable social inequality.

Characters from the play Who Shot La Miguelito building a sense of community. (UC Berkeley photo by Ben Dillon)
La Miguelito pondering the art that is "thrown up" on the wall. (UC Berkeley photo by Ben Dillon)

All 15 characters in the play stand in scattered locations throughout the stage floor. Each pose is perfectly choreographed to provide an atmosphere of normality and comfort. Some actors sit on the bleachers that seat audience members, some stand defiantly against the backdrop, others are in tiny pods of three or four conversing on the side. They seem to be enjoying each others company as a whole while in their own small area. One by one they start shouting their names one by one followed by a unison call: “Check!” Each name represents an aspect of the character whether is it their ethnic background or personality — names like: Noktolonel, Sapphire Blue, Lolito, and Coco Cocoa. The rhythmic groove of the chants allows the group to connect on an auditory level as well as a visual level since in the midst of the names they appear to observe their surroundings nodding heads towards friends, smiling, and making eye contact within the group. I sense that the group gains a stronger sense of community with each added name and each added “Check!” that they utter. This builds the group. This is the reason why they feel so strong together. It is the sense of family, the sense of belonging, the sense of community.

After the performance had completed its showing, certain actors took the time to come in and sit in the front of the class and talk about how they felt about the performance and what it meant to them. The general theme from the cast was that the idea of community and the gentrification of San Francisco. The gentrification is what brought about the idea of community, since the forced movement of lower income residents allowed them to be grouped together and feel the stress of gentrification. This shared feeling granted the chance for the residents to bond with each other and become more familial. Some actors in the play had conflicting feelings about playing the part namely Abner Lozano. He spoke about how he was a very shy person and when given role of a rather rambunctious character he was nervous to play, but as he rehearsed more and more he started enjoying the character and it made him realize how much he was not like the character he was portraying at all.

The eye opening economic divide of some unknown city.
(Top) Female artists tagging a local spot. (Bottom) Teenage boys hanging around a local tagged up wall.

After the performance had completed its showing, certain actors took the time to come in and sit in the front of the class and talk about how they felt about the performance and what it meant to them. The general theme from the cast was that the idea of community and the gentrification of San Francisco. The gentrification is what brought about the idea of community, since the forced movement of lower income residents allowed them to be grouped together and feel the stress of gentrification. This shared feeling granted the chance for the residents to bond with each other and become more familial. Some actors in the play had conflicting feelings about playing the part namely Abner Lozano. He spoke about how he was a very shy person and when given role of a rather rambunctious character he was nervous to play, but as he rehearsed more and more he started enjoying the character and it made him realize how much he was not like the character he was portraying at all.

Black family outside their house post civil war.

In the years following slavery, the freedom of black people was greatly restricted and the life of a typical black person was still relatively hard. White people created discriminatory signs to segregate the black people. The idea was still planted in the white man’s mind that black people were inferior to white people. This segregation of black people allow the black community to form a tight-knit group. This sense of community is a central theme in the aforementioned play and in real life it manifests itself in this particular form of segregation. The togetherness of black people was a response to the white man’s oppression and the harsh atmosphere that the black people were forced to endure.

An apartheid protest.

Not only in America was this problem of segregation and the community of black people experienced. During apartheid, non-black South Africans were forced to live in separate housing due to the enactment of segregating policies. The all-white South African government believed in white supremacy and that created social inequality which furthered the tightness of the black communities.

Every culture enjoys the sense of community.

Bibliography

Brice, Anne, et al. “In 'La Miguelito,' a Street Artist's Murder Mirrors Bay Area Gentrification.” Berkeley News, 18 Oct. 2019, https://news.berkeley.edu/2019/10/18/tdps-who-shot-la-miguelito/.

Graham, Carol. “Why Are Black Poor Americans More Optimistic than White Ones?” Brookings, Brookings, 5 Feb. 2018, https://www.brookings.edu/articles/why-are-black-poor-americans-more-optimistic-than-white-ones/.

History.com Editors. “Apartheid.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 7 Oct. 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/africa/apartheid.

Malema, Julius. “Why Do White People Despise Blacks?” TimesLIVE, Sunday Times, https://www.timeslive.co.za/sunday-times/opinion-and-analysis/2016-01-10-why-do-white-people-despise-blacks/.

The History of Apartheid in South Africa, http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html.

Reflection