According to Monique “Big Mo” Matthews, people are afraid of their heart. If that is true, they must be terrified of her for she speaks from the heart. You can hear it in her words; in just the rhythm of her words alone, you can imagine a beating heart. She speaks out against injustice, accepting injustice and against embracing injustice. She talks about her friends and other female rappers who have given up fighting it. She criticizes the other female rappers go on with being a spectacle persona instead of a whole person, the women who rely upon “pimping the body to get play” .
The Crown Heights Riots took place in New York City between the 19th and the 21st of August in 1991. Crown Heights is a predominantly West Indian and African American community with a large minority Orthodox Jewish community. Racial tension, suspicion and resentment had been simmering for a long time surfaced after a young child was killed by a Jewish driver. Before the riots were over Yankel Rosenbaum, an Australian Jewish Student, in New York to conduct research for his doctorate, had been stabbed by Lemrick Nelson, Jr. who later confessed to the stabbing.
Anna Deavere Smith conceptualized Fires in the Mirror to give voice to people about the Crown Heights Riots that took place in New York City in August 1991. The interviews she ended up with covered a range of topics beyond the actual Crown Heights Riots. These topics were not limited to racially motivated anger, which was the focus of most mainstream media coverage. She goes beyond that to give a rounded out profile of individual perspectives. In doing so, Anna Deavere Smith shows there in not just two sides to a story there are many; as many as there are people involved as participants, witnesses and the circle extends outwards from there Monique “Big Mo” Matthews is just one of many whose live were touched by the Crown Heights Riots.
Anna Deavere Smith intervened and recorded the people she portrays in Fires in the Mirror. The play itself was originally stage as a one-person play. On stage, she used a few props to portray the individuals. As a gifted actress she was able to capture their gestures, mannerisms and speech pattern. Her talented portrayals brought her great critical acclaim. In writing the story she tries to stay true to the characters and transcribe not just their words, but the manner of speech as well; showing the force of the person behind the flat words on the page. Monique “Big Mo” Matthews must have been a challenge to fit to the printed word. Her words are rhythmic, almost if their performances as a rapper have infiltrated into her mind and soul. Her viewpoint’s certainly have been influenced by the rap culture. More than that, she is intolerant of people who are more attitude than real. “Big Mo” is not just critical of the men who would reduce women to being “hos.” She is also just plan tired of the women who accept that treatment as part of their lives even her friends who just go around “just acceptin’ that they considered to be a ho”
Hact, A. M. (200). Fires In The Mirror. Retrieved 3 2, 2012, from Gale Virtual Reference Library: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=GVRL&userGroupName=ocl_aplus&tabID=T003&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm¤tPosition=5&contentSet=GALE|CX342060
Smith, A. D. (1993). Fires In The Mirrow. New York, NY: Anchor Books.