Letter to the Editor: “Platanos & Collard Greens”


As I read Heather’s article on “Platanos & Collard Greens,” I realized that I both appreciated her thoughts and simultaneously thought she missed some of the point.

Heather is right to note the diversity issues surrounding the play, and the awareness brought about in the process. What I think got lost in there somewhere are two things:

1. The show was really funny.

2. Intelligent humor can teach people.

As Heather pointed out, the play takes place at Hunter College in New York City. If you’re familiar with Hunter College, it’s on the Lexington Ave. local or #6 train in wealthy mid-town Manhattan, just south of Central Park on 68th street. Hunter has very stringent admissions requirements, and doesn’t admit just anyone. You need to be pretty darn smart to get in, and not just by what your test scores or GPA happen to reflect. Majors include such things as Applied Mathematics, Biotechnology, Chinese Language & Literature, Statistics, Urban Planning, and, appropriate to the play, Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies.

The point of this exercise was to demonstrate the subtlety of the play’s environment. The characters in the play are by virtue smart people, or they’d have never made it in to Hunter College to begin with. To simply say, as Heather has, that this is “an urban, social commentary” doesn’t really cut it.

“Platanos & Collard Greens” was a commentary on the state of prejudice and diversity in America, and more importantly the state of African and Latino Americans today. All were approached with a sense of humor to help drive points home, along with some intelligent thoughtful commentary at every turn of the story. A good sense of humor forces you to think, and frankly “Platanos” has some of the most pliable humor commentary in Manhattan today.

The dancing was exquisite, and right on period. The actors were versatile enough to dance tribal, salsa, R&B, hop hop, and others. That’s sophistication.

The poetry in the play was more beautifully articulated than is evidenced by Heather’s commentary as well. At the beginning of the play Freeman does use the lines “Platanos and collard greens go together like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese”, but as you see at the end of the play that this is only the foundation from which he and Angelita stepped off and flew from. Freeman’s commentary at the end was something far more beautiful and pure.

Freeman saw the great tribal warriors and kings of Africa celebrating their lives as free peoples on the plains of the Serengeti dancing in concert with the gilded Mayans of South and Central America from their many stepped pyramids in Chichen Itza. And they shared with each other, and loved their freedom.

This is sophisticated. This is love in the face of adversity. This is bridging gaps between people. This is understanding the nature of people. This is the mission of peace and prosperity. This is “Platanos & Collard Greens.”

Eric C. Lind
President, International Business society ’06-’07