“But Not My Son” is a powerful play written by Evangelist Beverly J. Miller. It’s about violence in the streets of Pacoima. More specifically, it’s about a group of Pacoima mothers who’ve lost sons to street violence. “But Not My Son” is an honest play; it pulls no punches, and deserves more recognition than it has thus far received.
As the play opens, a proud mother is describing her wonderful little boy. He gets straight A’s and follows the rules; he’s gentle and kind; doesn’t curse or fight; and he doesn’t stay up late at night. But another mother sees her son differently. “The son I see is bad as can be. The bad things he does, he’ll never let you see.”
Ultimately, the boy’s mother is forced to admit, “The son you saw I should have seen. My imaginary son was only a dream.”
The play unfolds and the audience begins to see that the son—now a high school student—has his problems. It’s Monday morning and he’s asked why he isn’t getting dressed for school. He’s forced to admit that he’s been suspended.
Later, he’s seen gambling in the street with some older boys from another part of town. A fight erupts, shots ring out and the boy goes down. He’s taken to the hospital but does not survive. Mama is crushed. She had such hopes for the boy. Now he’s dead, and her dreams for him are gone.
Later, she learns the shooter has been caught, and she’s expected to be in court for his arraignment. Then she learns her son was actually shot by his long-lost half-brother, fathered years ago by her first boyfriend.
She’s overwhelmed by the painful realization that she’s lost both her sons to street violence. She knows she has to reach out—to help other mothers who’ve lost sons under similarly crushing circumstances. And an organization called “MASEED” is created.
MASEED (Mothers Against Social, Economic and Educational Decline) was organized to embrace the issues that inhibit growth and productivity in a community. It works to ensure that children growing up in Pacoima stay in school—that they do their part to prepare for their future.
But MASEED also calls on leaders—leaders in government, in business, in schools, in religious institutions and in the community at large to acknowledge that Pacoima is officially described as an “underserved community.” It calls on all individuals to address those issues—crowded classrooms, inadequate public transportation, soaring unemployment, etc, which have, effectively, limited opportunities for some of the children who just happen to have been born in Pacoima!
“But Not My Son” is a powerful play—not because it tells us about problems in Pacoima but because it helps us understand how a small group of very strong mothers are responding to those problems! It’s an effective play because it forces us all to think about supporting those heroic mothers!
To learn more about the organization, the play or the author, call Beverly J. Miller at (818) 201-6579, email her at Beverlygeen@verizon.net, or write to her at P.O. Box 330991, Pacoima, CA. 91333-0991.