Play encourages conversation on race relations

Andrew Cameron, The Observer

Kicking off Notre Dame’s first Race Relations Week, student government hosted a performance of the play “The Cop” in Legends Nightclub on Monday, Oct. 24.

The play, written by Rev. Harry Cronin and performed by Brad Erickson of San Francisco’s Theatre Bay Area, is a solo drama centered around a police officer who is forced to confront his own hidden racism after his daughter is killed and he gains custody of his bi-racial grandson. Following the performance, the audience broke into groups to discuss the issues of racism and implicit bias explored in the play and how these issues can be addressed in the Notre Dame community and American society as a whole.

According to Erickson, the play’s crucial message is about how racism can affect people’s behavior and their ability to love others.

“I think it gives us a glimpse into some of the really horrendous things that have been happening in this country, certainly between police and young men of color in particular,” Erickson said. “A lot of us think ‘Well, that could never be me. I could never do anything like that.’ What the play explores is that the thing that drives people to do those things that we think are so horrendous is actually in all of us. It sort of convicts all of us of this same issue.”

Erickson said systemic racism starts with personal racism.

“It gets embodied in systems, in governments,” he said. “But it starts in the heart, and that’s what the play’s looking at. If you had asked this character a year or two before the play if he was racist, he would have responded ‘No, absolutely not. I’m a cop, and we’re trained to treat everyone equally.’ In the course of the play, he realizes this hatred that he has inside of him. So it’s a discovery: He discovers this hatred inside of himself, but he will never get rid of it if he doesn’t foresee it.

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Originally published by The Observer at on October 25, 2016.