Christian Long

Anna Deavere Smith: American Character

In TED Talks on May 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Reflection by HANNAH W.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Anna Deavere Smith: American Character

In this TED Talk, Anna Deavere Smith gives a performance of different people. She has a show called “On the Road: A search for American Character.” Studs Terkel, Paulette Jenkins and others are just a few from her show that she gives life to.

When I looked at this talk, I was very amused but then later in her performance I found myself in tears. When she acted the role of inmate Paulette Jenkins, I was highly in shock. My question was how could you let your own child go through something like that? When she said “I though I could really fix this man. So I had a baby by him- insane- Thinking that if I gave him his own kid, he would leave mine alone.”

I was thinking, was she in love with him? Could it be that she was afraid that her own life would be at stake if she tried to go against him? Sadly, I’ve heard stories similar to this. It saddens me because obviously the relationship between the two was completely broken. I feel sorry for her because she had to go through being domestically abused and had to see her own child being beaten to death. This is where domestic violence obviously had a big role to play in this. However, I do feel like she could have tried to do something about it instead of covering it up for the man. I think that if she would have reported him and told the truth then maybe she wouldn’t be in jail today. Still I am very sorry to hear about something like this.

The acting of the Korean shopkeeper was very interesting and I do remember about the Rodney King incident. Sadly, I have a hard time re-watching the acting of the Korean shopkeeper in the video. The acting of Brent Williams on the other hand is hilarious to me. I like his story because it’s mainly about motivation. Even though he got bruised multiple times and his brother died, he still got back up and did what he loved to do. I think that with all of these stories told they teach a lesson in so many ways no matter how good or bad they may be.


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