I AM ENOUGH
When we meet BERT WATERS, he is already feeling conflicted about what it means that he, as a Negro man, is paid for performing as a blackface minstrel in front of white audiences. He yearns to be fully seen and validated as a person and a performer. Instead, Bert plays a stereotype, and when he tries to stand tall, he is discounted, humiliated, and even threatened.
Creating this story as a black man in the 21st century, Cajardo Lindsey is inspired and encouraged by Bert’s journey. He is also saddened and frustrated to know the limiting and constricting parallels that were true for Bert are still true for him, his sons, and so many more people of color. As much as we want audiences to see the many facets of Bert’s unique struggle as a black man paid to denigrate himself for entertainment, we also want them to know that the essence of Bert’s journey is one that all of us can understand. His quest to be seen leads him to question his self-worth and confidence and to ask Am I Enough?
Whether we are pursuing a DREAM, a next STEP UP for ourselves, or whether we are pushing through a MAJOR CHALLENGE, there is a little voice inside of us that wonders whether we can really do it, whether we can really pull it off.
Am I Enough? is the universal question we all must face. When we question ourselves, we look for validation in our outer experiences -in our social status, in our educational degrees, the money we earn, our social status, the clothes we wear, the homes we live in, the cars we drive, etc. We even may be tempted to find someone to label as “less than” in an attempt to make us feel that we are more -to quiet this lingering question of Am I Enough. Worse, we may even stop searching and purposely live without purpose, too frightened of being disappointed. Bert wrestles with this until he is eventually able to say, I am enough.