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The Mass Media

UMass Boston professor writes ‘Stop and Frisk’

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Professor Robert Johnson

Poor people have dreams that are dashed too easily by a system that does not fully appreciate their humanity,” said Professor Robert Johnson on the moral lesson of his latest play “Stop & Frisk.”
Johnson is a professor of Africana Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston. In his play “Stop & Frisk,” he addresses the issue of racial profiling in America, especially upon the poor. He also explores black men and the law.
“These issues [are] still relevant today as we see with the killing of DJ Henry, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis,” Johnson said.
The play is set in Orchard Park Projects, Roxbury and involves a young man who is studying plumbing and trying to be a poet when he is arrested for something he did not do. The play centers around the young man and his mother’s struggle to clear his name and to not become another urban crime statistic.
Professor Johnson mentioned that the play was written 20 years ago when he was a criminal defense lawyer and came into contact with young black men who were being stopped and searched because they were black and poor and lived in a poor community.
Jacqui Parker, the director of the play, mentions in a Plaza Theatre’s pamphlet that “Stop & Frisk” serves as a reminder of the importance of black theater in Boston. Parker adds that the play is part of the legacy of Boston Theatre and the talented troops of actors are keepers of the flame.
“We have to continue [the] mission of [providing] thought-provoking plays about social justice injustice in the hope that will have open discussions crossing the divides of race, class, sex, age, and religion,” Parker wrote.
Along the same line, Professor Johnson expresses his hope of reaching the audience in a sense that people who attend the play will leave the theatre with a better understanding of how racial profiling hurts society, implying that everyone should collectively fight to end racism and racial oppression in America and the world.
Professor Johnson also believes that the play can help bring unity between different races and create bond of affection among all of us. “The play touches upon universal themes of hope, love and perseverance,” Johnson said.
“Stop and Frisk” will run at the Boston Center for the Arts for one more weekend until March 1. UMass Boston students can obtain discounted tickets at $25 by contacting the Africana Studies Department.