Nice & Lily

“Just because a young child stops talking about differences does not mean she stops noticing them. She continues to notice but is left to draw her own conclusions about these differences. And these conclusions will more often than not be misguided and biased, because of the world we live in.” – Madeleine Rogan, EmbraceRace.org

Nice & Lily is a new play by Rachel Grossman for 4-6yos and their adult companions about diversity, identity, and talking about race.

Nice & Lily is an audience integrated, immersive show: Kevin Black and daughter Nice, along with the audience, visits Jessica White’s house for a group playdate with daughter Lily. The play is separated into sections: “The Greeting”; “Playdate” and “Coffee Talk”; “Headed Home.” Following a full-group opening scene, the children go to Lily’s bedroom with her and Nice, and parents follow Jessica and Kevin to the living room. The children deconstruct a book about diversity and remake it in their racial identities; adults begin discussing if and how they talk about race with their kids. Everyone regroups for a closing creative dialogue when the children share their newly made book.

PLAY DEVELOPMENT HISTORY

Development for Nice & Lily began in 2017, supported by a FY17 Individual Artist Project grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The character “Nice” was developed by Natasha M. Gallop.

The first workshop of Nice & Lily occurred at the Petworth Community Library in September 2017 for an audience of children and parents. Natasha M. Gallop as “Nice” and Rachel as “Lily” presented the “Playdate” section, with a discussion following.

Director/dramaturg Danielle Drakes and actor/designer Tosin Olufolabi joined Rachel as collaborators for the further development of Nice & LilySydney Koffler began designing the book, Our Townspeople, that child audiences remake with the characters Nice and Lily during the “Playdate” section.

The second workshop of  Nice & Lily occurred in the living room of a private home in July 2018 for an audience of adults who were parents or worked in education or Theatre for Young Audiences. J.J. Johnson as “Kevin” and Rachel as “Jessica” shared the “Coffee Talk” section, with a discussion following.

The next workshop is planned for February 2019 in a Washington, DC location to be announced. The workshop will be a full presentation of the script.

Contact Rachel for an draft of the script or to receive information about workshops.

FACTS

We know:

  • Babies as young as 6 months stare longer at a face from a racial group different than their own. (Phyllis Katz, 2000-2010)
  • Children as young as 3 make distinctions based on race, even when race is not discussed (Phyllis Katz, 2000-2010) and start to prefer and ascribe positive attributes to their own racial group more often (Rebecca Bigler, 1993)
  • By age 5, children see race as a major point of difference or distinction, even when it is not discussed. (Phyllis Katz, 2000-2010)
  • By age 7, children can accurately reflect social status bias and will make choices or judgments based on who they perceive as having more power or privilege. (Bigler, Averhart, & Liben, 2003)

Yet:

  • Research on family habits indicates that parents of color are three time more likely to discuss race with their children than white parents. The majority of white families never or almost never talk about race at home. (Brown, Tony N., Emily E. Tanner-Smith, Chase L. Lesane-Brown, and Michael E. Ezell, 2007)
  • When we don’t talk about race with our kids, they fill in the blanks, extrapolating from an often inequitable and segregated existence filled with racial messages. (Phyllis Katz, 2000-2010) (Brigitte Vittrup, 2006)
  • One study showed that when white children of white parents (who intentionally enrolled in a study about children’s racial attitudes) were asked “Do your parents like black people?” 14 percent said “no, they don’t,” and 38 percent said “I don’t know.” Almost 90 percent of the enrolled parents were very reluctant or refused to talk directly about race with their children. (Brigitte Vittrup, 2006)

(from http://www.westories.org/what-we-know-1/#what-we-know)

RESOURCES

Learn more about talking with children, starting at a young age, about racism, identity, and inequality.

From WeStories.org: “What we Know” (more facts!)

From Bustle.com: “When do we become Racist?”

From Teaching Tolerance: “Colorblindness: the new Racism?

From blog/website Raising Race Conscious Children: “White as ‘Right’: Why I don’t normalize Whiteness with my children”

EmbraceRace, Raising a Brave Generation (a website for adults who interact with children in all the ways seeking to fight racism and promote social justice)

Want more? Contact Rachel

Photo jamieskinner00/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)