Using only two characters, play showed black colorism

With a cast of only two people playing multiple roles, “Yellowman” enlightens students on ‘The Hill’ that racism in the black community still exists.

The play “Yellowman,” which is written by Dael Orlandersmith and directed by Dee Selmore, played at Tucker Hall on Friday and Saturday.

The play focused on the relationship of a young man and woman who grew up together, but because of their difference in skin complexion, their friendship, which eventually grows into a love for one another, is despised by friends and family.

Eugene Robert Gaines is a light-skinned, curly-haired fourth grader who meets Alma, a dark-skinned, chubby, kinky-haired second grader, on the playground. Gaines and Alma are both from different parts of South Carolina. Eugene also meets another dark-skinned student named Alton. As they play together, they have fun and do not focus on each other’s different physical appearances.

One day, one of Alma’s schoolmates comes up to her and tells her to stop playing with Eugene because he is light-skinned and speaks properly. Alma said she did not care and would play with whomever she wanted.

Later that day a light-skinned boy approached Eugene and told him not to play with the dark-skinned schoolmates, but Eugene paid him no attention.

When Eugene and Alma became adolescents they realized they liked each other. Only one problem: Eugene’s grandfather did not want him to marry someone who was dark-skinned.

Eugene could not help his feelings and knew he was falling in love with Alma. When they graduated from high school, Alma got accepted into college in New York, while Eugene was still unsure what he wanted to do as a career.

Eugene’s father helped him get a job working at a wood company with him. The dark-skinned workers teased Eugene for being light-skinned.

Meanwhile Alma found out Eugene’s grandfather died. She went back to South Carolina for the funeral. After the funeral Eugene and Alma discovered Eugene’s grandfather had left everything he owned to Eugene.

Eugene’s father was furious because he believed that light-skinned people got everything handed to them, which is what happened to Eugene.

Eugene’s father begins arguing and fighting with him. He tells Eugene that he never loved him. Eugene ends up accidentally killing his father. He was sentenced to 25 years in jail. Alma is pregnant with Eugene’s baby but afraid the baby will look like her.  

Monica Wood, who played Alma, believed the play had a powerful message.

“The ignorance of one thing can destroy not just one person, but the whole community,” Wood said.

Chris Bolden, who plays Eugene, said the play had a positive affect on those who were in attendance.

“The message that I believe the play conveys is the awareness of colorism in the black community,” Bolden said.

Shatelia York, 18, said she enjoyed how only two people played multiple roles.

“The message that I think the play conveyed was that dark-skinned people have to work for everything, and light-skinned people don’t,” said York, a freshman business administration student from Cleveland, Ohio.

The director gave her own take on the play’s true meaning.

Selmore said blacks are racist toward other blacks because of what has been instilled in them since they were children, from generation to generation. “It starts at home,” Selmore said.

“This play is important for not only the black audience, but the white audience, as well, because the white community may not have knowledge about what the black community racially endures,” Selmore continued.