The other side of the coin: an up-close experience with racism


Camila Flores

Coppell High School junior Sidekick staff writer Camila Villarreal plays Juror 7 in the CHS student-directed play “12 Angry Jurors” on Feb. 21 in the CHS Black Box. Villarreal played a racist character in the show, which hit close to home as she has been the victim of racists actions and comments in the past.

Camila Villarreal, Staff Writer

In December, I landed a role for Coppell High School Theater’s “12 Angry Jurors”, a show in which 12 jurors are tasked with deciding on the guilt or innocence of a boy accused of murdering his father. 

I would be playing Juror 7, who is described as this salesman type with a superiority complex and highly dislikable deportment. To top it all off, Juror 7 is an infuriating racist in the 1950s.

Admittedly, it was a pretty taxing experience. 

I spent two months translating the character from a white male to a Hispanic female. An actor’s primary job in any kind of production is to discover why the character is who they are and how that fits into the entire story of the play. 

Juror 7, I decided, grew up in a mostly white neighborhood in Chicago where she and her family were considered “one of the good ones” because we were very pale-skinned for a couple of Hispanics. That went straight to her head, and she lived her whole life thinking she is superior as she progressively gets more intolerable to the people around her, hence her hostility during the play.

Next, I had to put myself in that mindset. That racist mindset, which for me, is a very sensitive thing. I mean, it was only a few months ago that I wrote a column defending Mexicans from racists and continuous aggression towards us. 

Now I had to be one of the racists.

Throughout the show, I would pick on and lash out at Juror 11, played by CHS junior Maybelle Abraham, the immigrant juror. It was important to establish trust with Maybelle because my character would directly insult her and her heritage.

“I had to understand there was a wall between me and Juror 11 so I knew the offensive characters in the play were not making direct attacks to me, since Juror 11’s main attribute is that she is an immigrant,” Abraham said.

At first it was hard to keep up that incessant hatred, but the more we ran the show, the more I began to realize how easy it is to be racist when you are a coward. It is laughably simple to stick your nose in the air and have this unearned confidence solely based on where you come from because it puts you in a position of power you would not have had otherwise. 

My character, however, is not the most racist one. My co-actor, Ryan McCord, a senior at New Tech @ Coppell, played Juror 10 and had a long monologue dedicated to bashing minorities and making them sound less than human.

“I watched the movie version of the play because originally I didn’t understand what level I was supposed to be at,” McCord said. “I don’t know if it’s because we live in Texas, but it wasn’t very hard to figure out how to nail the racist attitude.”

Follow Camila (@fliipthewriter) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.