In less than two weeks, two grand juries have decided that there will be no indictment of the policemen responsible for the murder of Black New Yorker Eric Garner and the 18 year-old Black teen Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The blatant injustice of these decisions indicate a reality that has long been present but existing largely unseen by the greater white citizenry of the United States. The reality is that Black people’s lives have long been treated as disposable, this truth documented by the work of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and their research in Operation Ghetto Storm which asserts that a Black person is killed by police every 28 hours.
Artists are speaking out against the inhumane treatment of Black people in this country, specifically when mistreated by the police. Poets began publicly expressing themselves using the hashtag #BlackPoetsSpeakOut and reading their original poems as well as poems by significant poets from around the world. Last week, I produced and directed the poem below by Chioma Oruh through my artist group Liberated Muse Arts Group.
Earlier last week, my good friend, singer Colie Williams decided to revisit classic protest music pieces to address what is taking place today. Colie played the legendary Billie Holiday this past season in my play, Liberated Muse Arts Group’s production of IN HER WORDS and decided to remake Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” to stamp it with her expression on today’s atrocities. Teaming with singer Quineice, another actress who played Billie Holiday in IN HER WORDS for two seasons (2012-2013), Colie moved forward with a duet of the classic song that the two talk about in the video below. I am pleased with sharing the video below because it is the first work I produced with the Canon 60D that I am working with as I am moving into filmmaking after years of researching what camera would be the best fit for what I have on the horizon. The engineer in the video is my own producer (and life partner) Ben Beta and the other gentleman is the guitarist on the track, DL Watson. You can listen to the full track here.
Finally, here are my own contributions to #BlackPoetsSpeakOut