Riots in the “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” Play Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

In the early nineties, American society had to struggle with political and racial tensions. In part, these conflicts manifested themselves in the Los Angeles riots that broke out in 1992. This paper is aimed at discussing the way in which riots are reflected in the play Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, written by Anna Deavere Smith. In particular, this literary work illustrates the views of different characters on these events. One should demonstrate how the opinions of these people are affected by their social status, race, or gender. These are the main questions that should be examined more closely.

It should be mentioned that these riots were sparked by the trial of Rodney King. This African-American male was arrested and beaten by police. More importantly, this video was recorded and made public. The trial of this case necessitated the change of venue. In other words, it was necessary to try this case in a different location in order to ensure the impartiality of jurors. The court decided to exonerate police officers from the charges of excessive force. The defense attorneys believed that Rodney King resisted the police officers, but these moments were not captured in the video. This decision of the court led to violent protests against racial inequality in the United States.

In her play, Anna Deavere Smith attempts to illustrate various perspectives on this play. Some of these people did not want to be involved in this turmoil. For instance, one can speak about the Korean woman, Mrs. June Park. She does not understand why her husband had to “get shot” (Smith, 153). This woman stresses the idea her husband was a hard-working man; furthermore, he was always willing to donate money to various community needs. She wants to emphasize the idea that the social status of her family was achieved through hard labor. Thus, she does not know why the Korean community has to suffer from these riots. One should keep in mind that during the riots, many of the Korean stores were burned or robbed. On the whole, people like Mrs. June Park believed that their security could be threatened. So, many of them could have negative attitudes towards these protests.

Additionally, one can refer to the opinions expressed by Maxine Waters, who was a congresswoman at the time when the riots took place. Admittedly, she does not support the violent actions of the protestors. Nevertheless, she believes that these events were incited by institutional racism (Smith, 167). Her perspective is influenced by such factors as race and social status. As a black person, she is keenly aware of injustice caused by racism. She notes that African-American youth could suffer from unemployment, food insecurity, and lack of educational opportunities (Smith 168). Moreover, their needs were excluded from public discourse. This person also believes that not all of the protestors were criminals. Nevertheless, as a person, who occupies a very high social status, she does not accept violence because it can only provoke other conflicts. Thus, she tries to express a balanced opinion on this problem.

On the whole, these examples indicate that the representatives of different social groups may have various opinions on the Los Angeles riots. Some of them wanted to shield themselves against the dangers associated with these events. In turn, other people attempt to evoke sympathy for the protestors.

Works Cited

Smith, Anna. Twilght: Los Angeles, 1992, New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014. Print.

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