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PURPOSE - Directed by Phylicia Rashad

Updated: Apr 1


The play "PURPOSE" was a three-hour total takedown of an affluent African American family. The parallels between the characters and the esteemed family of Reverend and Mrs. Jackson are undeniable. As a black woman, the play was highly uncomfortable to watch, especially in a room full of white faces making fun of black struggles with prison, mental illness, and autism. The use of the N-word, violence, and guns are not things generally associated with the iconic civil rights family, and it felt wrong to watch.


Junior is a character based on former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Congressman Jackson was my congressman for decades and did some incredible work in Congress. This congressman cared enough never to miss a floor vote during his time there. He graduated from North Carolina A&T magna cum laude, then went on to earn a seminary and law degree before running and winning Congress eleven times. However, in the play, the character, Junior was called stupid at least eight times that I counted. The character Junior was called a thief by his father, who had gone to prison for stealing taxpayer funds. A crime Jesse Jr did not commit. I am a fierce defender of the truth, and this is a falsehood. The congressman was accused and convicted of using campaign funds donated to him for reelection. He never took a dime from taxpayers or his district. The play further went on to make a mockery of suicide, and sexuality.


In the play, Junior presents his mother with a book of letters she wrote to him during his time in prison, with a plan to publish them. The book also became a punchline. There was no compassion for the pain of a black mother who did everything right and still lost her son (if only for a short time) to the prison system. There was no understanding of the helplessness of a mother to protect her child behind prison walls. That is a familiar burn that many mothers around the country can relate to. It is not a laughing matter; however, PURPOSE made a mockery of it.


In the play, Junior's wife (Morgan) is a helpless, bitter victim of the family's evil. Morgan's only crime was signing off on tax documents prepared by the family accountant, which landed her in prison after her husband. Morgan is also an attorney but failed to read the fine print and takes no responsibility for her role in the crime that landed her in prison. However, the former wife and Alderwoman Sandi Jackson pleaded guilty in open court for her involvement. It makes you wonder if this storyline was fed to the director by the former wife to paint herself as a victim. 

 

Mrs. Jasper, the mother and wife of the civil rights icon, was a shrewd businesswoman who ran her family like a public relations firm. Her husband directly blamed her for the family's destruction. Aside from the family affiliation, there was no resemblance to the iconic Mrs. Jackson. Mrs. Jackson, as I have known her, is the epitome of class and dignity and has practiced the laws of nonviolence with her husband publicly and privately. The character of Mrs. Jasper was a classless woman who struck her daughter-in-law about the face at the dinner table. I sat open-mouthed as I looked around the room at the predominately white audience laughing hysterically at the mother's meltdown.

 

I initially purchased tickets to PURPOSE because I read that Phylicia Rashad, a childhood idol of mine, was involved in the play. Clair Huxtable was a life goal for me and many of my friends growing up. Since The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad has become a D-list actress, appearing on shows like Empire and low-budget Tyler Perry movies and BET films for TV. I hoped the play would allow her to redeem herself and return to her roots of portraying black excellence through art. I was thoroughly disappointed. The best way to sum up PURPOSE is with this quote.

(regarding the rape conviction of comedian Bill Cosby)


Phylicia Rashad has rebranded herself as a rape apologist to the younger generation. I have decided that she no longer deserves the respect and dignity she was gifted in the Claire Huxtable role. Clearly, that was Mr. Cosby's vision for her. In reality, she is a messy, desperate D-List actress who needs to enjoy retirement.


 

PURPOSE was ghetto trash. Save your money.



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