Race, Class, Religion, and the Law

“When race, class, religion, and the law collide…a conversation begins.” So reads the tagline for Defamation, a theatrical production written by local playwright, Todd Logan.

Logan’s play is an old-fashioned, interactive courtroom drama based in Chicago. In the play, a South Side African-American woman sues a Jewish North Shore real estate developer for defamation. In this civil suit, the legal issue is to determine whether or not she has been falsely accused of stealing his watch. But more is at stake here than the fate of the plaintiff. Defamation presents for us a dilemma that leads to a riveting courtroom encounter that illuminates our common perceptions about race, religion and class. The audience is the jury, the conversation is heated, and despite being held in a theatrical setting, the issues are very real.

There is hardly a better place to talk about the things that divide us—the things that cause us to fear, hate, and discriminate against one another—than here in the city of Chicago. A city whose neighborhoods were built along racial and ethnic lines and whose rich and poor live in completely different realities, Chicago is a pressure cooker—a place where so many of our prejudices manifest themselves in dramatic ways.

While many of us may think that we have progressed beyond our prejudices, Defamation not only demonstrates the kind of ingrained racism that many of us deal with daily and that those of us in a majority culture never see, but also challenges us to examine ways in which we are in fact implicated.

As the playwright suggests, discourse is the first step towards solving the racial, economic, and religious prejudices that plague our community.

Race, class, religion, and the law.

Each of these things is essential to the work we do at Protestants for the Common Good—the work you support through your gifts, your input, and your advocacy—the work of advancing justice in public life.

Protestants for the Common Good will host a viewing of Defamation on Sunday, October 7th at Chicago Theological Seminary, and we invite you to join us—to engage as this interactive court-room drama unfolds around these issues. You will serve as the jury, deliberating together on the outcome of the play. We invite you to be a part of this event. We hope you will join the conversation.

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