Dr. Black, the would-be buyer, worked as a chemical engineer. Handsome, poised and gracious, he told Bluestein that he did not intend to sue, even after he learned about the development's residents' resistance to him moving in. He calmly said that he expected Bluestein to do the right thing.
I told Lenora the play sounded fascinating, and that I would come to see it. I did.
Funny, sad, tragic but ultimately uplifting and life-affirming, "Black and Bluestein" somewhat paralleled the experience of my family in 1959, when -- while my dad worked as a janitor -- we became the second black family to move into a previously all-white neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles.
After the play, I met the playwright, and told him of my family's story. I spoke with the excellent cast members, including Loren Lester, who played Bluestein with sharp wit and integrity. I had an especially long conversation with John Eric Bentley, the charismatic actor who played Dr. Black. He told me how much he enjoyed my radio show, and he agreed that too many people behave in a "victicrat" manner -- believing that even today, in 2008, racism and bigotry remain major problems.
I told John that, early in the performance, I found it bothersome that he so graciously accepted this racism, until the audience uncovers why he maintained his dignity in the face of such bigotry. John said, as does his character, that he considered calm and steadiness an even bolder statement of strength than lashing out in anger.
I left the play and walked outside into a busy, trendy, upscale Santa Monica street. I passed a black city street cleaner, efficiently and briskly sweeping the street. He looked up. Our eyes met. He smiled and said, "Larry Elder! I can't believe it! I'm gonna tell my wife I met you." I walked over and hugged him.
As we hugged, he whispered in my ear, "And I'm not a victicrat."
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