Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Parallels on race in the White House

My inbox is flooded with discussion about a Washington Post piece from last week, originally sent to me by my friend Saleem. In separate discussions resulting from that piece, it's clear that none of us can stop exclaiming - or tearing up - over how poignant it is. See for yourself:

A Butler Well Served by this Election

For those of you in Albuquerque, I hope you were able to attend Electoral Dysfunctions: The Vortex Theatre's Political Playfest while it was running. Longtime friend Gene Grant wrote a piece titled "Enter on the Execution" that won the event's top prize. Without revealing too much, I'll offer that the play is set in a restroom, just before Barack Obama will give the oath of office. Inside, he meets a bathroom attendant who, as a black man who's worked for decades in the White House, has an interesting perspective on just what Obama is about to take on, and just what it means.

In "A Butler Well Served...," the butler in question is Mr. Eugene Allen, 88, an African-American who served the White House for thirty years. His stories and perspective are remarkable, and like Gene's hero, he in many ways represents the moment of change we now find ourselves in with regard to race in America.

Both of these pieces - fact and fiction - are remarkable at this moment in time. Maybe if we're lucky, Gene will tell us a bit about his play and his thoughts about Eugene Allen.

Bonus: A slideshow of Eugene Allen's life in the White House