unpublished Tahoe Mt. News story
By Kathryn Reed
Racism is very much a part of every day life on the South Shore. To bring awareness of intolerance and learn ways to accept people who are different than us, Brian Copeland is coming to town to dispense some of his wisdom.
“His message when we went to the conference was more of learning to live together and accepting people for who they are regardless of race, color or creed,” explained Susan Baker, alternative education director for Lake Tahoe Unified School District.
Lake Tahoe Community College had representatives at last spring’s diversity conference in San Francisco as well. The college’s diversity team and LTUSD worked in tandem to bring Copeland to South Lake for two lectures at LTCC’s theater for free beginning at 6 p.m. on March 11-12.
“In 1971, San Leandro was named one of the most racist suburbs in America. Congressional hearings were held. The next year, the then eight-year-old Brian Copeland and his African-American family moved to San Leandro,” his website www.briancopeland.com says. “In a monologue that's both funny and poignant, Brian explores how surroundings make us who we are.”
Baker is trying to get Copeland to talk to students at Mt. Tallac Continuation School as well. Those students will read his book “Not a Genuine Black Man” before he comes next month. The college and unified district each bought 100 of his books.
Copeland has a one-man show that he took to Off Broadway. He has the record for the longest running solo show in San Francisco. The Bay Area resident is in the current movie “The Bucket List” as the son of Morgan Freeman’s character.
Baker has heard Copeland speak a couple times. She says he gets people to think about why they don’t like someone and how words may be inappropriate and hurtful.
“Racism is alive and well in our community,” Baker said. “There are some slurs, there’s intolerance. Part of being a teenager and finding your way in life is you are more comfortable with your parents’ values instead of your own. Many (students) come with racist values from their parents.”