by Vasthy Mompoint
In light of recent discussion by Actors' Equity Association to change the name of “The Gypsy Robe,” Broadway actor and Gypsy Robe Recipient Vasthy Mompoint shares her opinion on the name change.
Do I think we should change the name? Yes. Here's why.
I spent the entirety of my childhood below the Mason Dixon. My parents moved to America from Haiti in the early 80's and moved us to Alabama, and North Carolina. In Alabama, we were one of the few black people not only our school but our county. I had a great childhood and lucky for us no one ever harassed us for our differences. I am grateful for that to this day.
Why bring up all that? Well, for years, I kept quiet on certain issues. I don't think I was scared, I think I thought it was just normal. When you are the minority, you get used to your voice being silenced. It feels like home. So what if more than half the school has Confederate flags on their cars. Who cares if the high school next to yours had an actual confederate soldier as their mascot? It is the way it is and the majority says it is the "tradition" that makes them hold it high. Besides, there are more of them than you, should it matter if it makes you flinch?
Here is what you are saying when you cry tradition. You are saying that your need for tradition and comfort is more important to you than the pain and outcry of marginalized humans. Is it that deep? Yes, it is. People are not becoming more sensitive, they are tired of not speaking out. People are inspired by watching others cry out injustice and they think, "Hey maybe my pain is valid too. I can cry out too." And they are, so get used to it. They have always been there. Silent.
Do I know anyone personally offended by the word? No. Does that mean I can dismiss their pain? No. If there is one thing I have learned since November 5, 2016, is empathy. You don't have to understand what they are going through, but I believe you should listen. All the marches, pins and buttons and powerful Facebook statuses mean nothing if when faced with the decision to actually change something, you cry "Tradition."