YASS members on “What the Constitution Means to Me”

August 30th,2019 Categories: Featured News

What the Constitution Means to Me Means to Me

by Shannon Harris

By the time I received word that YASS was scheduling a group trip to see What the Constitution Means to Me, it was on my short “must see” list. Heidi Schreck’s tour de force did not disappoint! Shreck’s distillation of the US Constitution’s glorious potential in theory, its essentiality when “it works,” and its grave shortcomings when it doesn’t, was at turns moving and hilarious, always sharp, and, overall, brilliant.

What the Constitution Means to Me resonated with me on many levels – as a black woman, as a feminist, as a progressive – and, yes, as a Christian. When we (YASS folkx) gathered after the show, unsurprisingly, parallels between the US Constitution and the Bible came up. Indeed, both “documents” are penned mostly or entirely by men. However, despite the (near) singularity of their authorship, these “living” documents provide sound foundational frameworks for civil, secular, and spiritual life even as they are susceptible to misuse, especially by, in favor of, and/or for the sake of the powerful. Likewise, the ostensible weaknesses of these works (ought to) compel those of us committed to “a more perfect union” and to advancing the kingdom of God to participate as fully as possible in contributing to the fulfillment of these goals.

In short, What the Constitution Means to Me reminds me that “we the people” of the US and children of God play a key role in bringing about the justice, equality, and ultimately love that we desire in this nation and the world. Thank God that both the US Constitution and the Bible invite and rely on our active participation as citizens of this nation, the world, and heaven.

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“What A Time To Be Alive”
by Stephanie Wilson

It was a typical Wednesday afternoon when I decided to join our YASS group for the opportunity to see a Broadway show. I had heard much in positive critical acclimation for What The Constitution Means to Me and was just informed prior to my arrival that the sold out performance will be recorded for future release. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with excitement for attending THE show that will be memorialized in film media.

From the moment curtains opened to the final bow, the performance was filled with many thoughtful anecdotes about the reality of impact for application of different amendments to the law of the land, The Constitution of the United States of America. While the show primarily focused on Amendments 9 and 14, and how these amendments effected the familial history of the protagonist—author—of the narrative, the performance enveloped the audience in multiple moments of self-reflection on how the laws that govern the world we live in came to impact our own lives.

For me, the defining moment of the entire show was the question of whether to keep the Constitution—with all of its flaws and amendments subject for further revision, or to replace with a new Constitution—removing the current laws in place that hold protections for marginalized groups of persons. As a person from multiple marginalized groups in race, gender and sexuality, I thought it was important to note that Constitution and its protections are always up for interpretation. While the Constitution presents itself as a collective set of laws that are proactive in nature, it is a document written in a narrative of positive rights that inflicts dangers upon the negative rights of the people.  In short, the Constitution is a series of human rights laws that are written in a way that grants and permits those rights to the people.

The “People” is the subject of debate. When the Constitution was written, one definitive body of “people” were in mind. As the embodiment and the identity of the American people continue to grow and change in time, we are faced with the reality of executing representation of the different bodies of people in the very laws that govern the land. As it stands, the human rights laws within the Constitution uses very general terminology that many marginalized bodies of people have to fight for a way to be protected. Those same marginalized groups have to fight for basic human rights to not be infringed upon due to not fitting into the box of the “people” who are clearly covered in the written law.

I won’t spoil the ending of the show, but it was fairly interesting to see a large part of the audience come to the same conclusion I had about what to do with the Constitution. Filled with the excitement of the debate and the one-of-the-kind outcome of the performance, I was thankful for having and sharing this moment with my YASS peers. It was a time where I was appreciative of the efforts of those who already had paved a path for me to walk in my truth. It was a time where—even though no one shared those stories individually—we as a group of Young Adult peers came to a collective understanding about the work that still needs to be done to further make sure that the human rights granted to us don’t disappear for any in our different and collective communities.

Thank you Park community for the work you continue to do as a beacon of justice in a world that continues to challenge barriers.