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Breaking the Echo Chamber

In a liberal arts bubble, it sometimes feels like an echo chamber. I am confident about values, I understand my moral compass. I try my best not to hate, to judge, to hurt someone intentionally. So should I be afraid to play a character that does not share my own values?

I have been asking this question a lot. I listened to a podcast recently by Love and Radio called “Silver Dollar.” It was a real life story about a Daryl, a black man, who accidentally struck up a conversation with a member of the KKK at a Jazz Club. Eventually he went on to meet the Grand Wizard. The way he puts it, he says when it comes down to it, all people want is to be listened to.

Now, I have people in my family who if I told them my real identity may not accept me as who I am and that is scary. Yeah, they will probably die knowing a falsified version of me. But I have to love them, I have been told that I have no choice but to love them. And I’m not alone, I have heard tons of experiences like this. So, sitting across from someone like Grand Wizard of the KKK and actually hear him out is, I believe, revolutionary.

Could I actually listen to someone I knew hated everything about me down to the way I look? Could you? How many times have you shut down a conversation because you felt uncomfortable of unsafe?

If you haven’t, please teach me how to do that, but to the rest of us, finding a common ground isn’t preaching to the choir, it’s actively engaging with the other side.

I am excited to get the opportunity to be a part of a play that touches on these issues. We are doing a play by Langford Wilson called Talley and Son and honestly when I first read it I asked the big question: Why is it relevant? Why now? It’s about a bunch of white businessmen whose main purpose has been to make money, what’s more: they neglect their wives, they’re bigots, they’re racist and they’re misogynistic. There is no love between father and son and the women try but even they fall short. Most of their love is, to say the least, cold.

So why in a world that is already so cold do we need to see an upper class white family undermine and manipulate each other? (Been there, done that)

For this, I look back at “Silver Dollar.” Why do we need to see these people when we already know they exist. Live theater is powerful, when confronted with someone face to face it makes it harder to look away. I look at the people in this show and I realize that they exist. I have heard this show is dated but that seems like a narrow excuse that cuts the audience off from the actuality of the real world. Not the art world, but the real world, there is a distinction. The art world, at least the college art world, is dictated by creativity but the real world is dictated by money. So these people who fill their lives with dollar signs instead of love exist, they are here, they run our country, they are our President.

And these people have caused immense damage, with their ignorance and their fear. Fears that I recognize in people close to me. And I look at these characters and this world that I have been given in Talley and Son and I realize, I can’t live in my own bias. I will always have my values, I know I can always try to change someone but what if that’s not the answer. What if the answer is sitting across the table from the Grand Wizard of the KKK, knowing he could kill me, and yet still being able to treat him with some ounce of compassion.

And for those of you who don’t believe that small act of compassion can change the world, you don’t have to. But if you listen to the full Love and Radio podcast , you will hear that most of Daryl’s listening wasn’t in vain and he even changed a couple of minds. Someone people feel like speaking to the other side is a waste of time. Some people are too afraid to do what Daryl did and that is ok, that is their choice, they risk their safety and the safety of their loved ones. But the other side isn’t doing it. The other side isn’t trying to find common ground, they are too busy living in fear due to the traditions they have been taught. And if I know something from my side of the family, they are very set on their beliefs because they have the luxury not to change them. And yes, I am talking about the Right wing. Fear is killing us, all of us. It is pulling our country back into the habit of division.


For more information on Love and Radio “Silver Dollar” visit here:


For more info on his other talk on Love and Radio “How to Argue” visit here:


Daryl’s Website and his book Klandestine Relationships can be found here:


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