As the globe reels from the brutal murders of Keenan Anderson, Tyre Nichols and Takar Smith - and good souls wonder what can be done - I remind people that there is a national demand to Reimagine Public Safety. The violence of American policing isn’t keeping any of us very safe, and the cost to Black, brown and Indigenous life is too much to bear.
In 2022, law enforcement murdered 1,055 people in this country. That is three people a day or one person every eight hours.
I think there are millions of Americans who agree that the way we do public safety isn't working, but where I see many of these millions get stuck is around the “how”. Most folks can’t even begin to imagine a world without policing as we know it. A lot of people have bought into the lie that without the current system, public safety would deteriorate into chaos. The fact is, it already is chaos. Chaos and violence.
Artists are the conscience of our community. Art is not a luxury. It is a critical pathway to visioning and manifesting a liberated, just and humane society.
In this moment, we need our art and artists even more, as it is through theater, plays, paintings, books, dance and music that we can imagine a different world where all of us thrive. It is where we have the opportunity to see the world we want and the pathway to getting there.
During Black history month, I urge you to figure out how you can support and encourage more art making, especially art and artists from impacted communities, of which 3Girls Theater has a number to choose from!
Additionally, I want to say that 28 days in February is nowhere near a large enough container to honor all of the contributions Black people have, and continue to make for this country.
The economic engine of this nation is literally rooted in the bloody history of chattel slavery - capitalism based on a racial social strata where the holding of Black folks as property brought in untold profits and helped America explode onto the international scene and gain global dominance.
Black people built cities, towns and railways, introduced jazz into our hearts and souls, and invented things like home security systems, the lightbulb, the three-light traffic signal and the iphone, just to name a few.
It is the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast survival program we have to thank for free breakfast and lunches in schools across the country.
But perhaps most importantly: Black people have taught us how to struggle for liberation and justice; how to never give up; how to stand strong, brave and bold in the face of brutal repression; how to use both the energy of the streets as well as the halls of power and the ballot box to make critical gains in the quest to be seen as human and to be free of the violence of white supremacy. Black folks have forced this country to reckon with the contradictions of saying it is the “land of the free” and the conditions Black, brown and Indigenous people survive every single day.
Black history is American history. Without Black folks, there is no America.
For far too many Black people in this country, their contribution comes at a great sacrifice, sometimes the loss of life too soon and in horrific, unintentional ways.
That is the contribution Natasha McKenna made to the world. She was murdered in the middle of a mental health crisis in Fairfax, VA in 2015, hot on the heels of several other highly publicized murders of Black women by law enforcement, including 38 year old mother and grandmother Yuvette Henderson right here in the Bay Area.
What came as a result is an international conversation about Black women as victims of state violence. These tragedies needed to be seen, felt and fought for. Their deaths launched the Say Her Name campaign and brought to light what had, for decades, been lurking in the darkness.
The launch of that campaign, working on the Yuvette Henderson case, and learning about Natasha set me in motion to write my first full length one woman show, ‘Tasha, which won the 2018 3GT Salon Series Festival Prize.
Today, I am pleased to invite you to see ‘Tasha’s first full production, produced by 3GT, taking place at the Z Below from February 24th to March 18th, starring Jeunee Simon* and directed by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga. My organization, the Anti Police-Terror Project (https://www.antipoliceterrorproject.org/), will have healing justice practitioners at each showing and highlight opportunities for you to get involved in the fight to end state-sanctioned violence. This production is truly theater with a purpose: a call to action, if you will.
Hoping to see you in the streets and theater seats!
3GT Investigates, Program Director
Anti Police-Terror Project, Executive Director
*Member, Actors' Equity Association