Sweating under the lights: Northview puts the spotlight on racial discrimination

The 2017 theatre production of To Kill a Mockingbird is just around the corner. The classic piece, also taught in freshman English classes, is one that tells a story of racial inequality and humanity.

Senior David Tay, who has the role of Mr. Gilmer in this years fall play.

While the use of the “N” word in the play may cause some upset throughout the community, the school has decided not to omit its use in the live performances.

“We omitted many discouraging parts, but to stay true to the book and nature of the show, we could not omit every time that the ‘n’ word came up” director Malia Huffman said.

The usage of the word is “offensive [to me] when it’s used in a profane way or if it’s used with a hard ‘r’[at the end]” said senior Reece Braswell, one of several black cast members.  

For Braswell, it is acceptable to use the “n” word in the play “because it does take place in 1933,” and different things were socially acceptable in this time.

Senior Reece Braswell as Reverend Sykes.

Northview is not alone in facing the challenge of using offensive language in classic literature and theatre, schools and communities across the country are experiencing similar issues.

Biloxi School District in Biloxi, Missouri, recently made the decision to pull Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird from their schools’ shelves (read more about the decision here).

Braswell understands where the Biloxi school district is coming from, and said that “it is completely appropriate for them to [ban the book] because of their own views,” but he also suggested that “the kids are going to hear the word anyways,” and noted the risk of losing the valuable lessons taught by To Kill a Mockingbird.

For director Huffman, the banning of To Kill a Mockingbird is also the banning of a very essential and necessary message.

“The message of compassion, empathy, and justice is just too real, too raw, and too good to overlook,” Huffman said. “This story teaches us to become better humans, neighbors, and friends.”

Cast members Phoebe Dawson (Maudie) and Shannon Heldt (Scout) on stage during a dress rehearsal.





Maggie Houseman
About Maggie Houseman 3 Articles
Maggie Houseman is a senior and she is looking forward to her second year as a staff writer for Northview’s online newspaper, The Roar. Apart from the newspaper, Maggie is a color guard head captain, a member of Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), and a member of the National Honor Society. Her favorite subjects in school include math and science, but Maggie also love to write! Outside of school, she is a student leader at her church, and enjoys hanging out with her friends.