Let’s face it, Quinnipiac is not known for its cultural diversity. Out of approximately 5,500 undergraduate students, a mere six percent are of Hispanic decent, and only three percent are African American.
Sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs office, Black Student Union, Latino Cultural Society and men’s soccer team, David Lamb’s play, “Platanos and Collard Greens,” performed Tuesday in Alumni Hall, proved to be humorous, yet thought-provoking about issues of diversity.
“Platanos and Collard Greens” takes place at Hunter College in modern times and tells the story of a blossoming romance between a young black man, Freeman, and Angelita, a Latino woman.
As their relationship progresses, the ethnic stereotypes that both they and their peers possess about each other’s races begin to surface, making an innocent romance suddenly complicated.
It is clear to the audience at the very opening of the play that “Platanos” is an urban, social commentary. The first scene of each act opens with the song, “Still Not a Player” by Big Punisher, and a slam poem (a form of performance poetry very similar to rapping) performed by Freeman, during which he declares: “Platanos and collard greens go together like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.”
Each of Lamb’s characters has a specific purpose, and all of their words and actions are meant to teach something to the audience. Malady is a strong black woman who embraces her “dark chocolate” color. Angelita is tired of being classified as a sexy, mulata temptress. Samana, Angelita’s mother, is a racist Dominican who believes that because Freeman is black he isn’t good enough to date her daughter. Pops, Freeman’s psychologist father, is the voice of reason who tries to get everyone to understand that Latinos and African Americans have more in common than they think.
Throughout the play the characters have casual conversations about major social issues plaguing minorities, such as police brutality, lack of voter turnout in elections, and the poor condition of city school systems.
“Platanos and Collard Greens” debuted in 2003 and since then, has been performed in 17 states and at more than 75 colleges.