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Empathy is Everything

A Note from 'Native Son' Director Andi Chapman


'Native Son' Director Andi Chapman and August Wilson Monologue Competition participants.

Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging.

Empathy is everything…

Echoes of Atticus Finch, If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. Skittles, I can’t breathe, Philando, Brown, had my cell phone in grandma’s backyard. Oh no, not Bland, and the list goes on and on and on…My prayer Lord is that it would STOP… this…identification of this man, this black man, this woMan as something other than huMan…I pray Lord it must STOP.

No one’s life is perfect. An accident, sometimes small, sometimes in great magnitude, can change the very trajectory of one’s life. Sometimes those mistakes are made because one believes that they entered this world dead on arrival, and every day that belief is tragically reinforced. This belief incites more tragedy until there is no catching this train. So…let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

The Bigger question asks, can you see me? I am human, I am no animal to be shot down at will. My life is of value, I am you, you are me, the same hue of blood runs through my veins as in yours. I will not be dismissed. See me America, the crime is that you refuse to SEE ME, that you do not regard me…you do not respect me…I am…human…See. Stop. Killing. Me. Take a walk in my shoes and understand you’ve tried to make me into something I am clearly not. I should not HAVE to take your constant firing, to cause me to have to fly—Above—you.

Your disregard says to me I, Bigger Thomas, am inhuman. But through this journey, I now understand:

  • I am BIGGER, through the words of my God and my ancestors—they sacrificed all their blood and tears to fight for the right for me to be who I am.
  • I am BIGGER, a King’s son no longer needing to follow insecure fearful voices and fulfilling prophecy spoken by those who have no gift
  • I am BIGGER, to follow my true purpose walking in the Bigger shoes that were formed for me before the beginning of time.

I am Bigger than…I am…A…Man.

Andi Chapman, Director

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