We Must Love Each Other & #WeMustBreathe: Last Night at Victory Gardens Theater

“We are demonized by police who can’t even police themselves…

I want to chant and to believe that Black Lives Matter.

Trans Black Lives Matter.

Queer Black Lives Matter.

Women Black Lives Matter.

Gay Black Lives Matter.

Poor Black Lives Matter.

All Black Lives Matter.” – Black Zygote.

As I sit at my desk looking at my Christmas tree ornate with Dollar Tree ornaments, whist listening to the new D’Angelo album and my hair in twists letting the Shea Moisture deep conditioner sink into my roots, my heart is so full from last night’s events.

Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater has always been a home for many diverse groups of artists.Chay Yew, Artistic Director, has really done a phenomenal job of making artists of color feel welcome to express and share their gifts freely on the stage. Last night Victory Gardens held a performance event: “WE MUST BREATHE” about the recent losses of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Sean Bell and Rekia Boyd. It was a night for men and women in the theatre community to get together and perform short pieces to fight, not only police brutality, but to remind us of the humanity that has been missing in the media.

When I got to the theatre at 6pm I felt like I was in church y’all. DJ Mikhail Fiksel, aka White Russian, was spinning the tunes. I was surrounded by a community of healers and educators. We all took communion by witnessing greatness, excellence and bravery last night. We paid our offering to the memories of those that have lost their lives by protesting.

If you missed out view the Livestream here:

All of the pieces were so didactic and life altering. Some of the pieces that really pulled on my heart-strings were by Black Zygote, Kevin Coval, Nikki Pattin and Marcus Gardley. I am so grateful for these artists coming together. The evening closed with a talk from Samuel Roberson, Artistic Director of Congo Square Theatre.

Many people wondered how can we help? How can we effectively make change? The best answer, we all discovered last night, is to act immediately in the face of adversity.

My dear friend, Mildred Langford and the Chicago Artists Against Injustice began to sing:

“I can hear my neighbor cryin’ I can’t breathe. Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave. Calling out the violence of the racist police. We ain’t gonna stop ’till people are free. We ain’t gonna stop ’till people are free.”

Within a second the theatre up-roared and erupted as hundreds of humans trail-blazed the streets of the Lincoln Avenue intersection by Fullerton/Halsted. Led by Osiris Khepera, Kristiana Colón, Samuel Roberson and so many more. We sang the songs of the Civil Rights movement. We sang the new songs created for Mike Brown: “Turn Up, Don’t Turn Down, We Do This for Mike Brown.”

The call and response were earth shattering as we sang from our pinky toes out loud into the dark, flurries of winter. Hundreds of us locked hands as we circled and blocked the traffic intersections in protest against Police Brutality. Linking arms with strangers and singing proudly. I marched in my Crocs freezing, joyous and full.  I am so honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this with my theatre community.

True Body/Courage was shown last night. We all united: big, little, tall, short, disability, trans, gay, straight, black, white, latino, asian, young, old, wise, mature, immature, dreamers, poor, rich, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Atheist, Agnostic, survivors, helpers, educators, students, we were all out there.

I came home and could not stop smiling. I was so excited. However, in the midst of my elation I just poured out in tears. Tears for the ancestors who fought before us in the riotous protests of the sixties. Tears, because they were met with a much greater and more ugly discrimination. All of us last night were able to go home and feel like we made somewhat of a difference. But I say this to all of my artists, let’s take a moment and really give thanks to those who did it before us. They gave us the ground-plan now let’s follow through.

I am just floating on gratitude today.

Here are some images and footage from last night’s protest.

I will post more videos on my Instagram and Facebook accounts: bodycourage

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Thank you so much for those who shared. Chay Yew, Marcus Gardley, Kristiana Colón, Tanya Saracho, Kevin Coval, Black Zygote, Andrew Hinderaker, Paloma Nozicka, Nambi Kelley, Zarinah Ali, Calamity West, Darci Nalepa, Meghan Reardon, Nikki Patin, Robert Cornelius, Malcolm London, Julian Parker and Joanie Schultz.

Thank you for sharing your hearts with us all on that stage.

With Love,

D

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