Tag Archives: police shootings

In Memory of George Floyd, One Year Later

24 May

George Floyd Memorial
George Floyd Memorial. Photo credit: nytimes.com

Today marks the eve of the day George Floyd was murdered by that police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And, even though he was convicted for the murder, which is a good thing, we still have to overhaul the whole system of policing. We are hearing the range of ideas from reform to abolition, being that at its very root, policing served as slave patrol. I know Minneapolis is making some strides in this, as are other cities, in looking to funnel money being spent on policing to mental health and social services resources, like utilizing social workers, and community health workers, to transform the way we envision and enact public safety.

This evening, I will light a yahrzeit candle, a custom in the Jewish religion, to mourn the anniversary of George Floyd’s passing. The candle is lit to burn for 24 hours to remember and honor the anniversary of a loved one’s passing. If George Floyd was loved, instead of feared and vilified and seen as less than human, he would still be here today, as would be Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Daunte Wright, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbery, and on and on.

A few days ago, I re-posted Some Of Us White People, the first post I wrote after the murder of George Floyd last year. I asked us to look within and without to acknowledge where we are in our continuity of acting to change what needs to be changed to make this country free and safe for Black people. I don’t think I can keep repeating that I hope each one of us is staying awake and aware and active as we move through the spaces we inhabit each day of our lives. Because the alternative is, we are allowing things to remain the same, and we will forever be mourning from a distance, the loss of Black lives at the hands of police officers, while we retreat in the comfort of our white life bubbles.

Tonight, and tomorrow, I will honor the memory of George Floyd, and the day after, and every day after that, stay awake and aware and active, and it is my hope that you will, too. It is the only way.

Hype Man: A Break Beat Play, At The Wilbury Theatre: Timely,Urgent, So Worth The Hype, I Saw It Twice

26 Nov

hype man

Hype Man Wilbury Theatre

Hype Man actors, l to r, Phoenyx Williams, Jeff Hodge, Helena Tafuri, (photo credit: Erin X. Smithers)

I knew I wanted to see Hype Man: A Break Beat Play as soon as I heard about its November run at The Wilbury Theatre Group in Providence. And after seeing the play, I knew I had to write about Hype Man’s timely theme of race, police brutality, and the impact it has on the relationship of the play’s three characters: Pinnacle, the white rapper, played by Jeff Hodge,Verb, Pinnacle’s Hype Man, who is black, and is played by Phoenyx Williams, and Peep One, the woman who creates the group’s beats, played by Helena Tafuri. The play written by break beat poet and playwright, Idris Goodwin, was expertly directed by Don Mays, who allowed each actor to shine in their respective roles.

Verb and Pinnacle grew up together, the best of friends, and bonded further through music, and the formation of their own hip-hop group. Peep is a newer addition to the group, but is vitally important with her attention-grabbing beats. The entire play takes place in the group’s rehearsal studio–save one time the set doubles as a television stage–the spare set consisting of an elevated round platform fitted with a mixing table, a stool, and a microphone. I learned from the play’s director, Don Mays, that the tri-colored, at times overlapping, voice patterns painted on the black walls behind the set, represent the three recorded voice patterns of the actors.

In the opening scene of this one-act play, Verb enters and begins fumbling with the sound system. Pinnacle sneaks up on him, and after a good laugh, and greeting one another with a hug, we learn Verb is just returning to the group after a month-long hiatus for therapy, for what Pinnacle later calls Verb’s “wild behavior.” Peep enters in a rush, and apologizes for being late for rehearsal, sharing there was a police shooting by the highway that slowed her arrival. Verb, looking at his phone, reads that police shot a young black male, 17, named Jerrod. Peep picks up her phone and reads that Jerrod had just gotten the news that his grandmother had taken a turn for the worse in the hospital and was rushing to get to her before it was too late. He was unarmed. He was shot with his hands up while running away from officers.

Sound familiar? It is in this moment we, the audience, are about to witness […]