Unconcerned With Niceties, Aleshea Harris Rages Toward Success
The award-winning “Is God Is” playwright has drawn acclaim for, in her words, ‘a nuanced exploration of black female anger’
by Laura Collins-Hughes
MAY 25, 2018
The playwright Aleshea Harris knows the history. She understands the racism that fuels the self-protective impulse behind respectability politics — the idea that if members of a marginalized group behave impeccably, they won’t be oppressed.
She has a couple of problems with that strategy, though. First, it doesn’t work. Second, as a black artist, she needs to depict the complex humanity of black people, not a tidied-up version.
“I can’t be so concerned with what racist white people will think about my work that I can’t make my work,” she said the other day over a matcha latte in a Hell’s Kitchen café. “Let someone else play the best-behaved black person on the planet. I can’t do that. I’m fully human, I’m fucked-up in many ways, and I want to talk about that.”