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Kerry Washington Brings a Black Mother’s Biggest Worry to Broadway in ‘American Son’

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MMM chapter.

American Son,  a new Broadway play starring ‘Scandals”  Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale, brings empowering acting while recognizing the treatment of black people in today’s society, regardless of how many obstacles have been knocked down by Civil Rights Activists and how successful one might be. American Son is written by Christopher Demos-Brown and produced by various Hollywood powernames like Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Gabrielle Union. This new play will be running for a short 16 weeks, with final the show taking the stage on January 30, 2019.


American Son is a powerful play that centers around a biracial couple who struggle with receiving information on their teen son, who has gone missing. American Son has a cast of four, and each cast member acts with true grit as they perform this raw play, since people of color still have to prove why they belong. In an era where the Black Lives Matter movement has been taking the United States and the world by storm, American Son could not have come at a better time. This play deals with controversial topics, from how a man gets treated over a woman to the idea that women need to sit back and relax, and do not need to be oversensitive and emotional. The story revolves around a black, educated woman who is married to a successful white man, and together the two have provided their son with an elite education, to ensure he is already one step ahead in the world. Though the son has grown up in a privileged world, the play touches on the invisible things people do not realize that children of color go through while being in these inner circles. Children of color, especially black children who attend private schools, that are majority white, become the expectation of what all black people are like, and when one black person messes up, that child has to prove why they are not like the rest. But when a white person shoots a school or gets arrested for drugs,  they do not have to prove why they are different from all other white people.


The son in the play has gone missing and the mother has a gut instinct that something terrible has happened to her son. The mother waits patiently at the police station in the middle of the night to be talked down to, overlooked and ignored as she waits to learn about what has happened to her son. The mother is black and her son is also black with cornrows.  Because her son has corn rows, the police officer expects that he is the stereotypical black male who is portrayed as being a troublemaker. This play addresses more than just the disrespect that black people face on the daily, but brings a very sensitive conversation to light. The great thing about this play is due to the arts, actors and actresses have a platform where they can get people talking as they see this show and become educated on why it is so important to not judge someone or automatically assume something negative due to the color of their skin.


Police brutality is not new and has been a problem for decades. Just because the black community has had a black president does not mean that all black people’s problems can go away. The way in which black males are depicted in society is still not okay, and due to all of the police shootings involving innocent black people,  have forced black parents to have serious conversations with their children at a young age, to make sure they know how to handle themselves in a situation if they were to be involved with a cop. Having these conversations at such a young age can scare a child, creating a distrust with local law enforcement at a young age. When asked about having trust with the police and remembering conversations her parents had with her brothers about the police,  Marymount Manhattan College sophomore Brittany Dymond exclaims, “I trust the police only because I haven’t personally experienced any discrimination by an officer or anyone in the force… I just remember one time my mom got pulled over and got in the wrong lane and the officer stopped her and was rude, my brother woke up from a nap and my mom told him to be quiet and stop talking because she did not want anything to happen to him.” This is just one voice, in a sea of others who have to deal with the ramifications of police brutality.


Power is something so small that has such a great importance in society. American Son addresses a white man’s world, as they still have all the power and can strip something so important from a black person’s life without blinking twice. You should definitely go check it out for an eye-opening and educational evening at the theater.


Campus Correspondent at MMM  Hey guys, I’m Kyra! I grew up in the small town of North Lake Tahoe and now I am going to college in the big city- New York City! It is such a dream come true to be living in New York! I love it so much! I am a Digital Journalism Major with a double minor in Fashion and Business Management.    Get in contact with me, I'd love to hear from you! Instagram: @kyramattson Blog: dream-catcher-blog.com