What Is America?

by Devin Porter


“What Is America?”

Characters:
African-American Child
Robot

Setting: The child’s room.
(There is a silence. The robot is completely frozen standing still. The child joyfully enters full of spirit and happiness. The child observes the robot. The child resembles the “Jim Crow stance” and decides to touch the robot on the side of its head. The robot begins to start up. Then, the robot begins to speak.)

Robot:
Battery High. Today’s date is June 21st, 2018. Hello, my name is PS 127. I am the 4thgrade Android operating system sent by your Sachem school district. The topic for today’s class is: What is America?
(The child inspects the robot again. The
child takes the robot and moves the robot’s left leg forward slightly.)

Robot:
What is America? In 1955, 14 year-old Emmett Till was savagely beaten and killed for whistling and making “sexual advances” towards a white woman. They found his body attached to a cotton gin fan along with barb wire in the Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River. 63 years later, the woman reported her claims were false.
(The child moves takes the robot’s right
hand and balls it up into a fist and slightly
moves the fist forward.)

Robot:
On March 3, 1991, Rodney Glen King was violently beaten and struck 56 times with a baton by 5 white LAPD officers. Sargent Koon just stood there and watched on. “I’m not resisting! I’m
not resisting!” Battery Medium.
(The child takes the right hand of the robot and moves it up in the air. The fist is remained tight together.)

Robot:
In 2012, 17 year-old Travon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman on his way back to his father’s fiancé house in Sanford, Florida. Travon was buying skittles and ice tea at a local
convenient store. George Zimmerman was not charged. If I could tell you anything...Taste the rainbow.
(The child takes the left hand of the robot
balls it up in a fist and places it on the
middle of the robot’s chest.)

Robot:
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York. A NYPD officer put him in a chokehold for 15 seconds while putting him in handcuffs. The NYPD does prohibit the use of
chokeholds. “I can’t breathe. I cant breathe.” Battery low. Battery low.
(The child takes the head of the robot
and slightly pushes it down. The
robot is looking at towards the floor.)

Robot:
On July 5th, 2016, 37 year-old Alton Sterling was shot close range and killed in Baton Rogue, Louisiana. He was selling CD’s outside a convenient store. Sterling never threatened the officers.
“What I did sir? What I did sir?” Battery low. Battery low. Powering off.
(The robot dies staying in the same posed position. Then, the child slowly observes the robot. The child pushes down the robot on towards floor. The robot’s right knee is on the ground. The child once again observes the robot. The child decides to kneel right next to the robot. The child and the robot are in the same exact kneeling position representing Colin Kaepernick’s kneel.)
END OF PLAY


Devin Porter is a New York based playwright who uses writing to grant voice to the ones who aren’t heard. Devin is pursing his MFA in Playwriting at Ohio University. His work can be found on New Play Exchange. (NPX)

Man kneeling in front of graffiti