Saturday, September 09, 2006

Color Struck, A Review

Donald E. Lacy, Jr. in Color Struck @ Laney College, 900 Fallon Street,Oakland, Wednesday-Sunday, Sept. 7-10, 8 p.m.
Donald Lacy took keeping it real to an entirely different level in this reflective, coming of age in the Black community stroll through Oakland along East 14th (now International Blvd.).

I'd seen the work-in-progress at Intersection for the Arts' Hybrid series, and was impressed with the characters Lacy sprinkled through the story of his struggle to be black but always feeling not black enough, because his skin was light.

In this more fully adapted work, Lacy's character still feels outside the circle yet this isolation is one the playwright poses all Americans of African descent feel just because we're not white. His skin an object of envy like his straight hair which was shaved off in the show because he couldn't understand how such superficial aspects of a person could be used as a ticket to credibility.

Directed by Michael Torres, Color Struck takes the audience from the '60s and '70s when black power was the rage and nappy hair good, it reframed in a positive light. The former good hair was now a sign of diluted ancestry. Lacy sported a huge 'Fro which gave way to the Jeri Curl, the actor swinging his head as greasy oil coated the lone woman on the front row.

In 90 minutes Lacy rapped, sang, danced his way through centuries of Black history, history many of the children in the audience didn't know. Their comments after the show to Lacy were ones of appreciation and amazement.

Lacy's Oakland was one many youngsters weren't aware of. It sounded like a great place to raise a family, Lacy's family the norm with a mom and dad, not the exception. One could see Lacy's African American Studies Degree from San Francisco State at work here as he wove the historic information into his monologue almost seamlessly, Jim Cave's multimedia and lighting design cleverly illustrating his points.

No one escaped the actor's scathing tongue, his friendly ridicule a place where everyone in the audience could laugh and share in the racial stereotypes no one is immune to, the biggest scapegoat still Africans -- their treatment evidence of the unrelenting animosity between this nation and its former enslaved people.

Lacy took his audience back to Africa, a place again many children hadn't known existed, a place where Africans were sailing to America centuries before Colombus, the Olmec heads proof of this along with the pyramids throughout Latin America. Black people were everywhere.

The closing portion of the uninterrupted show was the riveting images of black people, men and a woman "hanging from poplar trees" just after Lacy recited a poem about the death of black men to a myriad of ills some self-inflicted. The tone which had moved between mostly funny to somber stayed there as the screen behind Lacy showed depictions of dead bodies swinging from ropes thrown over trees and bridges. Other photos on postcards with writing showed black men's roasted and mutilated bodies.

I don't remember seeing so many lynched African people in one sitting before. The room grew silent as Billy Holiday sang Strange Fruit, Lacy in supplication.

The slides just went on and on, each one a little harder to watch than those previous. I couldn't imagine anyone watching such injustices, yet not only were there numerous white people depicted watching these scenes, most of the adults and children were smiling.

The question Lacy asked repeatedly: Why do they hate us so much? was never answered definitively. If ever there were a salient argument presented for reparations to African American descendents of enslaved Africans, Donald Lacy's Color Stuck is one.

(Note: On Sept. 30, 4-7 p.m., Dr. Mustafa Ansari, Chief Justice Indigenous African American Reparations Tribunal, explains the human restorative process for Africans in America under U.N. Resolution 1647. The free event is at 967 – 32nd Street (& San Pablo Ave.), Oakland. The event also features poet Tureeda Mikell and photographer Asual Aswad. For more information contact Michele at or call (510) 479-7382.)

Lacy talked about the fear white men have over the sexuality of black men. He used King Kong as a reenactment of the savage beast seduces maiden dance. Except for the profanity laced narratives, Color Struck is provocative, educational and highly recommended for all audiences 12 years old and up.

Lacy is well known for his violence prevention work with youth through Love Life Foundation, named for his daughter LoEshé, who at 16 was murdered October 20, 1997, as she sat in a van with friends outside McClymonds High School in Oakland.
He also hosts a morning radio program called "Wake Up Everybody" on KPOO 89.5 FM, the only African American independent radio station in Northern California.

To find out more about Lacy's work visit:

Color Struck begins and ends in the radio studio, the deejay nothing more than a tour guide through a terrain most in the audience have grown unfamiliar with, a terrain Lacy used to call home.


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