good evening everyone how are you doing tonight thank you for coming wow this is such a beautiful room i’m so excited i’ve been getting text messages from all of you from many of you about how beautiful the room is tonight so thank you for being here my name is tara aisha willis i’m associate curator in performance and public practice here at the mca um no all right thank you but no i am really excited to welcome michelle endagliocello and stacey ann chinn here tonight i have a few housekeeping announcements um so please stay with me we would love it if you would use your social media tonight but please turn off your ringer and please use the hashtag mca chicago when you do it so take a moment now to do that while i talk to you for a while also right after the show stacey ann will do a brief book signing in the lobby right outside these doors where her book table was so if you got your book already or need to get it get in that line fast because it will be brief all right and um i just want to share a few things coming up on this stage and also elsewhere in the building in our performance and public programming uh this uh next couple months next week we have a continuation of our dialogue series which is on inheritance this spring in the public sphere we’ll be chatting with comedian and director kieran diehl and um artist jordan nassar and kenyatta hinkle on migration across generations that’s december 10th tickets are free all right um related to our exhibition on the fourth floor if you haven’t been yet please go duro aloo seeing chicago we’re having an evening of celebration performance and dialogue inspired by the connections between lagos nigeria and chicago and that will be on april 14th um all right next in the theater uh we have naomi rincon gallardo who’s a video art who’s created a video art punk operetta the formaldehyde trip this is like a really relevant list of programming for this group i love it um so that takes you on a psychedelic underworld journey with martyred indigenous feminist activist betty carino full of mythological creatures and surreal imagery that’s april 2 through 4. earlier that week at a talk happening on cesar chavez day we’ll address how artists use fiction and fabulation to re-imagine re-imagine our colonized world so a few other notes a few thank yous in particular thank you to our asl interpreters yes julica lachey and vera marie baldozza they’re amazing they’re with us often also shout out to our enact members and act as a group of mca donors and supporters dedicated to supporting performances and public programs here it really happens because of them and also our programs and performances here are all about gathering together and having an experience together so most and last of all thank you for being here tonight please give a warm welcome to christopher bruce stacy anne chin and michelle and digioccello enjoy [Applause]

thanks for coming out gonna give me a current bump thank you for coming on give me the corona bomb i’m very grateful i appreciate you coming i’m so grateful i appreciate you coming i met an amazing young person last night named anthony and he said something about the summertime in chicago it’s like the people come out because they’ve made it through winter and james baldwin said that he’s trying to prepare us all for the winter of life the long winter of life so again i thank you so much for coming hey so we got this show we made up the show like two what 2016 do you remember what happened in 2016 oh jalen take it down here we go 2016 it was just after you know the had just happened and we were all like you know just before that we were like all like oh my god obama he’s not that radical but we love that he’s so fly we love him like you know black people in the white house with two black children in the white house just we were just like on like some like black people and then 2000 we were gonna get a woman it was gonna be like not the perfect woman but it was gonna be a woman and then that happened and we were all just like reeling and we didn’t know what to do and we were like mad sorrowful and yearning for like our not so radical black president and we didn’t know what to do didn’t know where to go and michelle called us all together and said we should fellowship when we don’t know where to go and we don’t know what to do we should meet and gather like they did in churches and protests and we came up with this idea that we would meet kind of like church but we would use james baldwin kind of like the bible and we would use like radical poets as preachers and we would just meet and hold space for each other and try to see if we could like survive this orange corona together so this is what we made you can take that light down for me if that’s okay yeah this is what we made what’s another word for trouble cause that’s what fear in what’s another word for trouble cause that’s what we’re in what’s another word for trouble cause that’s what we’re in what’s another word for trouble cause that’s what we win brother be right here right now we can’t lose our way the struggle starts now right here today we talk around the truth it’s time to make a change put our aching hearts to use what’s another word for trouble cause that’s what we’re in everyone’s down for the struggle until it begins pain makes you humble and hurt is hard to say watch another word for trouble watch another word for trouble cause that’s what we’re in everyone’s down for the struggle

until it begins pain makes you humble and hurt is hard to sing what’s another word for trouble [Laughter] white supremacy must be in the water the water being ingested by the prosecutor the police and the politicians who remain silent while a steady staccato of black bodies falling like leaves in ferguson in cleveland it is autumn in america and the world has lost its mind white cops killing on camera forcing us to relive the constant death of our kin new story cracks our consciousness every day every day we watch viral videos become more and more numb more and more struck dumb by the sheer gall of these cops steady snuffing out black lives in their made in america home movies i am consuming these murders on repeat the helpless bile rising anger in my chest public shootings documented by onlookers images passed around after the event this phenomenon is black lynching 2.0 except this time we are spectators in our own genocide consuming the flesh of these murdered women and men who were never willing martyrs in any movement dead children of parents who now mourn them without closure without a day in court we are moving backwards through history back to the time when black mothers who lost children to white arrogance had no recourse that shameful time that supposedly ended with emmett till with herbert lee with medgar evers with harriet moore with malcolm x back then there was no hypocrisy about the system being stacked against anyone with a smidgen of melanin staining the history of their skin five decades after the black civil rights movement and we are still not protected by the law this is not what we voted for when we voted in our first black president this is not what freedom fighters hoped for when they marched against segregation in selma and chicago and birmingham and montgomery this is not a dream that dr martin luther king died for in memphis tennessee 50 years later and race relations in america is still a cauldron bubbling angry under the ugly swirl of black despair held in place by the lack of white accountability parading as a penal system in which 40 of those incarcerated come from a group which only consists of 12 of the entire population with numbers like that what good does it do me to comply with those in uniform body riddled by 41 bullets for raising your hands while holding a candy bar shot dead at 12 for holding a toy gun in a park strangled by an illegal chokehold for selling loose cigarettes arrested without calls for walking and talking while black all this while we steady paying taxes and voting for white presidents presiding over these united states as if black death did not matter this country continues to default on the promise of citizenship for black people a system sworn to protect us owes us something when it fails a system sworn to protect us owes us something when it fails in this roll call for protection we have to call for all black bodies we all must be accounted for straight queer transgender lesbian feminist muslim man woman immigrant dark skinned non-binary tall fat skinny light skinned in the face of any killing or sorrow must be one the rage we express must be one and though we speak with a thousand voices we must only rise with one sound we must call all the names of the dead we have to say

trayvon martin we have to say tamir rice you have to say yvette smith you have to say michael brown you have to say kiwi herring you have to say sean bell you have to say tarika wilson you have to say sandra bland could have been any one of us you have got to find the fortitude to keep this fight for ourselves for our children for our children’s children it is time you put your body where you say your politics lie this is not a moment to invoke the sweet by and by this is a moment for civil disobedience no matter what you do to our flesh or how long you wage war against this black spirit or bodies will always remain a force of resistance to the proliferation of white supremacy no matter where we come from no matter how we got here inside these brutal walls of the united states of america white power must always meet fire when it meets us if there is any humanity left in you get up stand off sit in join a protest pick up a pen you have to write and scream and wail and march you have to pull down this racist flag you have to plan you have to scheme you have to plot your way forward strategize it’s time to raise the roof on these it’s time for americans to come to terms with the permanent fact of black bodies you have to get used to us white people make a decision to do right by us do it willingly or unwillingly we care as for you progressive white liberals who always among us you have got to find those words to speak to your racist white relatives you keep disowning all that you better get with the program because black bodies are here to stay because black bodies are never ever ever ever going away i’m just walking trying to get i home doing nothing just leave me alone lord give me wings to fly before they shoot me down and i die don’t let them shoot me down and i die whoa put down your guns and take your hands off me officer officer officer i know you’re afraid like me but look at my hands please don’t shoot me put down your gun and take your hands off me [Applause] in the balance of human biology all bodies are created equal everybody is about 70 water regardless of race religion gender sex sexual orientation we all die after about seven days without drink but the idiots obsessed with category have decided that a double x chromosome designates me subordinate to those with an x and a y intersect those with two x’s with a fact of my blackness and my existence is now coded as dangerous hostile a direct threat to the endurance of a white patriarchy and everybody knows

that white men have spent centuries appropriating what they wanted the gold they found in africa wasn’t enough so they packed human bodies head to toe submerged in a swamp of our own urine and feces they dragged us across violent waters many of us drowned or young rather than let them survive at the mercy of white men and their sons just to keep breathing some of us became one dimensional in the public imagination in real life in books we had to become one thing or the other spinster or mother virgin or victim damsel or some of us went on the ground some of us let go slipping into that sunken place others revolted took up arms crawled through sewage defied geography to build new lives in new cities and that’s how i find myself in brooklyn reading tales of nubians bathing naked in the nile cushite queens equal to kings all of them praying to a black woman named isis the most powerful god among goddesses i imagine if i were her if i were isis i would use my might to smite every who ever looked at a little girl with lust in his flesh i would exact vengeance on behalf of every black woman who has disproportionately borne the weight of racial and sexual violence while everybody in the suffragette movement and the black civil rights movement and the lgbt movement turned a blind eye to her swollen lip smell thing me too for centuries black women have endured a culture of rape and racism combined for centuries the world stood silent while black men and girls black women and girls were bullied by black men and white men and white women alike for centuries rape was a word black mothers never said aloud but every black daughter knew what that meant it meant lie still it meant it will pass it meant keep quiet it meant don’t you dare shame this good black family and then one day something brilliant happened a woman named tarana burke inspired wealthy white women to say me too too and here in here in wriggles the strange rubric of america’s particular strain of racism ironically the viral mobility of the metoo hashtag was only possible because a white woman with power retweeted a black woman’s words two two words which unleashed a wildfire of public testimony pulling the shroud of sexual violation from the shadows shoving it onto primetime tv and yet 12 years after tarana burke’s metoo moment black women are still largely missing from the public dialogue about sexual assault inside of this one-sided sisterhood we are so tired of being disregarded and if you white women ever gave us the room to speak candidly this is the letter we might paint are you white feminists you who’s crying consistently drowns out the sound of our suffering dear weeping white women as we cannot find safe space to show you when or where or how we were torn open we are only holding the sorrow in to keep our very hearts from exploding we are unable to process this centuries of pain with you because we are exhausted from the hundreds of years of holding you and your children we are so unable to trust you because you have never been able to stand by us and we are so tired of explaining this rage we are so tired of explaining this fury and if you wish to know anything more about the genesis of or anger

you go and google us [Applause] or you go read some brittany cooper or some bell hooks or any other blogs of the bevy of black women writers your white publishers are too afraid to publish for centuries black women have been carrying the weight of your white fragility year after year marching for everybody else’s freedom protecting everybody else’s privilege but ours well the time has come and we are so tired we this crazy mad gaggle of global witches and hags we are done braiding your beads of silent acceptance simply put in this century we intend to take up more space black women are crafting a collective response to centuries of being under everybody’s water we have become a rising tsunami of fury come back to take back what was carried away without consent and while we’re here being candid i might as well confess to you that i don’t give a if you don’t like my big mouth black like my lover’s ass it has never endeared me to the gatekeepers of white civility my proclivity to speak the unspeakable is essentially the only defense i have against your indefensible violence of your man-made history inside my house inside my brooklyn house there is no shadow talk of birds and bees we trade indecipherable metaphors for concrete words i do not confuse my daughter i tell her your mouth your elbow your hair your arms your legs your vagina your whole goddamn body belongs to nobody but you and if you ever feel even a tiny bit unsafe you open your mouth you scream i will always believe you if you tell me in a world that so regularly demonstrates how much it hates black women this is what it means for us to be assigned the label of black and girl and yet yet black women continue to survive to thrive to arrive into adulthood to with the ability to laugh and love and wear hoop earrings and tight skirts and found social movements to liberate other from bondage if any of this sounds like i am speaking your truth this poem be for you my love if you have ever had to argue that you are no less deserving than your white counterpart i am speaking to you my love if you have ever been inspired by the magic of a black woman with thighs and asses that move mountains in their stride if you have ever been told you speak too fiercely from the thick lip of your own truth if you have ever been called girl like it was a insult if you’ve ever been called you step forward now if you are itching to light a bonfire in the house of the white patriarchy you come and stand with black women now if you want to be free like harriet tubman weapon in hand wading through unfriendly waters her power compelling the freedom of even those who did not want to be free if you desire to be confrontational like sojourner if you wish to be audacious like audrey antagonistic like angela gangster like winnie mandela angry like assata shakur you come roar with us at our rallies sit beside us in schools sing with us in church stand with us where it matters vote with us vote for us travel with us in the virtual in the flesh over these waters they continue to use against us as weapons across the land of this rock we are all knowing it is home let us fire open a crack crack the ground wide open with an uprising that will never again die down let us come together and light a fire like us use water no more water we go use fire next time what we say no more water we go use fire next time what we say no more water fire next time no more water fire next time no more water fire next time no more water fire next time i love you oh stacy and chen yeah how y’all doing [Applause] what are we going to talk oh what are we going to talk about [Laughter]

what are we going to talk about you know i’m not much of a talker i only agreed to do this because you were going to be here so they kick they kick elizabeth yeah i don’t know my mind has been on south carolina i don’t know which one i’ve been on you know i’m just questioning i just i don’t know how what sometimes i wonder do we we as a people so-called people poor peoples would i connect with vote against our own interests i wonder but that’s just where i am where are you i mean i just feel like you know the choices are so limited in terms of what we have to do we always have to choose you know it’s like when i was young i felt like i had to choose between being gay and being black all the time and i feel like now they’re presenting us with you know is either we’re going to choose like you know a woman all right i don’t know i mean it’s it’s kind of it’s kind of wild you know what we need is less white men and there’s old white men you don’t feel yeah yeah um but it reminds me of what you’ve been teaching me um we’re not a single issue it’s not a single issue experience in life for sure i mean uh i mean yeah and you gotta remember um even white men gave black men the ability to vote before they gave white women misogyny just is just beyond your understanding and sometimes i have to tell white women that you got to understand like they even let black men vote before you you know i think i think it’s the penis thing you always no yeah i don’t know i think it’s a power thing yeah but i mean that’s where they you know they’ve infused the penis with all this power i don’t know that yeah yeah i don’t know i mean i i i i want to ask you um yeah you yeah you know i feel about that i’m like it’s not gender it’s what’s it’s what’s between here i think not here i think it begins with that but i think it’s i think it’s i think gender is the is the weapon that they use to wield power i mean you know little girls or or female bodies aren’t categorized in you know in a place of like subjugation because of their gender expression they’re it’s because of the sex and i think when you cross the sexual boundaries the the pre pre-assigned boundaries of sexual and sex behavior i think that’s when gender starts to become a problem because you know i mean we we’re having an inside conversation here i know yeah that’s that they told us to just yeah i i know yeah i guess i’m you know i think that’s why we make a good balance uh i just believe there’s this essence within the human being you believe your work has always been that transcends when i play music it’s the only time i feel raceless and genderless it’s the only time i feel like i i found my place in this realm you know so and also again from what you taught me um it’s funny we made this work on james baldwin and then i had to look at his flaws because over time everyone’s flaws come to the surface and you led me to audrey lord and and and i guess with this election process i’m realizing you cannot use the master’s tools to tear down the master’s house so back to the gender thing i just i don’t i meet women who are abuse abuse power i have i raise sons so i’m i’ve been trying to be really careful about saying certain things about the male gender because i’ve been lucky in my life to meet some beautiful amazing men and as i worked through life and and trust me it was hard it was hard i had horrible things done to me and experienced as a child and and and that’s what’s brought me to like your mind is extraordinary and your heart and your spirit transcends any of the those things that are your body in my limited opinion i i want to push back a little bit and say you always do and say that you know it becomes dangerous when you when you when you’re critiquing a systemic behavior and then you um when i talk about whiteness i’m not talking about my good white friend who i love who treat me well and you know understand that you know if some happened in the street she must come out and use her whiteness to stand between me and the cops yeah like that’s a good white person you know what i mean you’re white witness yes yes so so when i talk about um the patriarchal

when i talk about the systemic patriarchy i talk about the way in which maleness and manhood and the white patriarchy pushes back against the rest of us who don’t conform to its idea of value i’m not saying men are bad i mean all the men i’ve had sex with have been wonderful men [Applause] you know wow it’s years ago don’t be ashamed come on i’m not [Applause] you know i mean but you know they we all know that there are good men in the world you know with so i don’t have to say that just like i don’t have to keep saying they’re good white people every time i talk about ray talk about race and any man who feel like i’m coming to get him because i’m talking about the patriarchy you need to go to therapy and do some work just like all the white people who feel like i’m coming to get you because i’m talking about like some white like yeah you need to go you know you need to come get your people and like you know come to the side and have a white group and talk about like your fragility you know like i so all of that to say that i think i think the patriarchy is alive and well i think racism is alive and well um and i think that you know just like they’re up black people i’ve like may had sex with some terrible black black women okay yes you know i mean you know you’re trying to make light of it but you know you see the point i’m making that people are people you know what i mean but then there are systems set up to privilege other people and their systems set up to oppress other people and we can’t ignore that you know but i want to ask you a question like were you always political oh like or or you know how how yes no no not at all were you always like a good a good good come on tell it a good what finish that sometimes finish that where you are you’re always a good human let’s leave it there oh no oh no you remember we did uh uh we celebrated in the zaki shanghai and i had to say how i came in contact with her work as i was dating i was involved with someone and and um i grabbed them in a certain way i definitely had a certain sort of energy i consider myself sort of like a two-spirit person i’ve never really thought of it it uh like i said my mind works in a specific way but i definitely and was raised by men i was raised by mostly men my mother was absent both both you and i are we share that at the end share that mention yeah and so i definitely had taken on some things from the patriarchy i had to check in myself and um so no i don’t think i was it was until i mean the amazing women that have come into my life gave me books and and movies and sort of opened my mind up but i don’t think i was political i was one of those people i just wanted to get day-to-day to see how i could live my life differently from my parents i was i was just telling my son he was like did you want to be famous and i was like i’ve not really i just wanted to know like i grew up in dc if i was shot in the street that someone would know it was me and that was the extent of how my mind worked if and if i could just play well enough in the local scene that that’s you know i know if something happened to me that’s how it was but my my politicism didn’t come till much later i still struggle with voting in the electoral college i still i still struggle with believing it and participating in the system this piece of baldwin work is um is interesting because you know we’re kind of like taking on political work head to head here you know um and everybody knows my work you know i’m just like you know i don’t cut i don’t take no prisoners i shoot them yes and and you know you’re more like a a peace flower kind of human being uh you know i think the struggle for me um in this process making this baldwin work with you is um to strike the balance between like telling the hard truths and like you know starting the the bonfire in the house of white patriarchy um and also kind of like um giving room to our human humanity and i

think it’s one of the things that maybe we’re all struggling with right now because every time you turn on tv you want to kill somebody you know what i mean every time you watch what’s happening i mean every every article is like you’re about to bust a vein in your neck um and i think it’s made us all a little edgier a little harsher with each other like i mean american families now can’t go to sit at we used to at least be able to pretend that we like each other at thanksgiving i mean and now it’s like i am sitting with you because i think you’re the vote for trump you know what i mean and yeah and so there’s this kind of like dark deep bitterness going through with us now and maybe what i’m saying one of the things i struggle with is to try and remember that um you know and i’m raising a kid she’s eight and the child is just all like love it’s like she just want to love everybody i mean she’s like yeah you know when amelia’s getting cranky all i know she’s hungry so i give her a cookie you know when alana’s being like you know mean i know that she is losing too much so then we change the game so you know when i’m like no you should play the game and win it’s and she’s like why then we won’t have any fun because one person is like not having any fun and i’m like jesus christ and so i can’t bring that like you know blow up everything energy in my everyday life you know while i could do it with the women and then they would leave um you know you can’t really do it with your kid because you know your kid can’t leave and so you’re just really up the kid forever if you if you can’t find any joy or you know sweetness i mean i see roger over there in that corner we were young poets in new york city together and lightened fires every day um and now we’re like raising these girl children that we have to like find joy and sweetness and we have to give them hope in the world and maybe i want to open it up to the audience no yeah and ask them maybe y’all could tell me how to like not kill everybody so i now invite you to like you know ask questions and we don’t have a lot of time so let’s ask the questions economically or else on that last little thing it’s about you being happy with you and the only thing you can do is accept people as they are you know because if you try to actually adjust yourself to everybody else’s situation you’d be bad indeed indeed indeed indeed thank you yes everybody don’t answer that question yeah yeah yeah we yeah yeah please feel please know you can ask us anything don’t don’t feel shy they gonna ask you then you’re gonna be blushing hi michelle and hi uh mr stacy and shane y’all are like why are you saying michelle and missed me i am so sorry my brain just froze thank you my man hello um i hope i wasn’t disrespectful i’m sorry um i did have a question to both of you just about uh just about your creativity in general um i consider myself a writer as well and a songwriter and i’m just trying to explore that that part of myself so one of the things i struggle with is just trying to create that space to allow myself to be free to to create and to embrace like whether it’s beauty or whether it’s pain whether it’s drama whether it’s just light i want to be able to kind of channel that energy so my question to both of you is um how do you foster that mental emotional and spiritual space to allow yourself to embrace your own self-expression and your own creativity how do i foster that is what you said foster it as if it’s something i have to do i um like i said i’m not i never was much of a talker um and uh music is my solace if i worked at the museum i still would go home every night and uh try to make something i’ve uh i had a child when i was 19 i just had no there you there’s no excuse for why you’re not writing or why you’re not doing that’s all within yourself and i don’t mean to be harsh but um there’s no fostering you just have to do it there’s no ch uh you’re not gonna have a cheerleader you’re not gonna have

somebody patting you on your back telling you’re doing great you must find that within yourself and um and uh i’ve just been teaching lately and i really struggle with that with a lot of young people i know you get the thumbs up and little hearts and this instantaneous gratification in the world but when it comes to your craft study all you can learn as much as you can and then when you don’t need it yeah throw it away read if you’re on read to be a great writer and to master language and def you have to read and just do there’s just no excuse not to do yeah please feel free that’s the reason i wanted to have people set is because that’s the other thing the audience versus the person on stage your energy affects the room just as much as me standing up here with this microphone you know this is a lot of power yeah but you have that too yes please who has a question stephanie how do you motivate yourself wave stephanie i’m older wait yeah wait oh hi stephanie how do you motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated and see these are these are you’re feeling down and uh you have talent you have talent uh hey christopher would you come back would you come back christopher how do you how do you motivate when you feel down down what is this down we speak of what is this direction what is this down i would like to play a song because i can’t explain it what is this down you speak of huh yeah what is this down you speak of i don’t mean to dismiss it all you have control of is how you respond to it i think the down is good we’re the only culture that like you it’s good to be down it’s when you find stuff you have it’s weed and you weed out your you know it’s good to be down i mean it’s the sad songs that bring us together it’s the ones that make you feel not alone when you’re not motivated go outside do something else make love eat something dude i mean i i could go on i i kind of think of it as self-editing of some in a way if you’re not supposed to make some move on do something else i find myself i’ve been painting i find other things to do i’m like there’s this this this this waiting for inspiration i’m sure there are many memes and quick ideas you know to say about that but don’t make a good day bad you know don’t make a good day bad you ready music and words are powerful the sadness is powerful i’m surprised every sunrise earth would have me back surprised my knees hold me up and that’s not all gone black and i’m sure by my fault i will burn up all i have so don’t go out your way [Applause] to make a good day bad cause i used to had to grow up from that so don’t go out your way to make a good day bad

this is amazing christopher boos yes he’s from chicago chicago zone [Applause] all right so do we have any more questions or anything but yeah don’t you know that’s they you know mind this is all brain activity control your brain activity you’re the only one that can you know and before you speak i’ll just add you know i’ll just add to it and say you know we are the generation we like to get to the like um mountaintop without the climb you know um you know you want to have the perfect relationship without having the year of like you know without you know you you know things get good when you work through bad so um we have to get past this idea that perfection is this final resting place perfection is but a moment a door we pass through to somewhere else you know when one moment is perfect you take it and you roll i you know when i teach i hear you talk about teaching and i tell young people live you can’t write without living you can’t you know you can’t write about heartbreak without getting your heart broken you know you can’t know what like loss feels like unless you’ve lost you can’t lose anybody until you love somebody um so i would say you know don’t sit in your room on your expensive ass phone you know um i promise you that like sex is better than texting you know um you know and after this corona passes you should just get yourself [Applause] you should get yourself some um some some some some prophylactics some saran wrap and just and and just go you know like and you know that’s god [Applause] you know but the sex is only a metaphor for being present for your life you know sex makes people like squirmy and laugh and gets them to get open enough to hear the fact that i’m saying go and live your life be present with somebody make a mistake and when you’re young you know youth is for like falling and breaking that’s why you heal faster you know go out there and like live and do and i mean you know with you know this just just get busy living man you know you know i was you know when i i remember being like 22 years old and like on a train from like munich to copenhagen and somewhere around dussdorf i was drinking wine out of a woman i had just her navel i was just drinking like that’s living get busy and be alive like take a chance live in the world like oh just get out of your room man next question [Laughter] i suddenly feel compelled to leave and go do something else right now see exactly yeah yes i’ll hang out here it is such an honor to be in fellowship with you all my question is about choosing james baldwin why james baldwin rather than an audrey lord or nina simone or a june jordan what spoke to you particularly about him and his work and what resonates to this day for you it’s a letter to his nephew the fire next time to prepare him and this is i’ll explain it my mother is mixed race and was born in like 1940 and my father was in the military i’m one of three children two that survived and like i said i had a very difficult childhood i’m very grateful for it has made me who i am but when i picked up the fire next time having not been brought up in a political household it really helped me understand and have compassion for my parents because as we sit here and talk about our like oh what make what motivates us to write

it’s very funny you have to literally stop yourself and remind yourself that civil rights is only as old as i am and that before that my mother my mother my my mother my aunt my grandmother my grandfather and all my cousins are all domestics i come from my my family is from the plantation of philip morris that’s why i don’t smoke anymore you know you have to understand like we have all this but before that life was not that easy to meander in your thoughts and make art and so in the book he says what what james baldwin struggles with is the inability for america to acknowledge the crime and so when i read that it just really helped me and also the fact that i grew up in a religious household and he he he was so many similar things in that book that mirrored my life um and it’s just a great treatise to explain to young people of color when i tell them about the systems that are in place that make it very difficult for people of color to to rise above their situation and and that’s why i chose him and it leads you into other things it led me into audrey lord yeah nina simone and him were very good friends lorraine hansberry he’s a lover of women he raised children it’s just he really speaks to me and i do also find that i meet a lot of people and his gayness keeps him out of the repertoire keeps him out of the cannon um uh people don’t talk about him or barrett rustin and and so that’s why it speaks to me because he’s dealing with like uh james baldwin was quite brilliant i i wonder why he doesn’t have more accolades why he’s not at the pinnacle of all in all conversation having to do with race and politics and how we’re dealing with each other and that’s why i choose him i idefy him he allowed me to to not flog myself about not doing better because i realized there are systems in place against women people of color and poor people that’s that’s why i choose him what i love about james baldwin too is um is how his work i mean there’s a there’s an energy in the theater in the church that ha like it that energy transcends uh geographical location in in in communities of color for sure like i can be in south africa um like at like a a a a sangoma obi a woman like a a a witchcrafty i don’t know what the word here is for you to translate you know but i can be there i can be in poco mania circles in jamaica i can be in a baptist church i can be um in a theater um you know at a i’m in pantomime in jamaica and i can feel the same energy and james baldwin writes about that when he writes about black people i you know the way we take up space the way we sit the way we lean forward the way we speak with our hands the way we have our emotions all over what we’re doing and what we’re feeling um you know the way you know i don’t know there’s there’s something about the way james writes about black people that i can recognize those people no matter where i go in the world the same kind of movement the same kind of dance the same kind of shuffle the same kind of load talking the same kind of um you know kind of like sexual swag i mean it it’s it’s very very you know like about that black yes that’s the sensuality of of life you know it’s not it’s not it’s just being central about and tactile and when you watch videos about him with him he’s very like i’m always moving in body kind of like you know there’s there’s a way that he feels very black to me and no power feels very gay yeah no party no slogan no religion is going to set you free you know he also says that and i just found his work profound and i i i beg you to revisit it and he you know he also illustrates his work i mean his body of work illustrates too how um how how how brilliant people can be a writer can be a man can be and how completely devoid of like a woman’s voice or a woman’s perspective um so it’s important in um highlighting that as well um and you know there are conversations with him talking with women particularly one with him and audre lorde where he was you know trying to make you know oh you know this is the plight of the black man i mean he goes out there and like the white world beats him down and audrey’s like

well you know what do you think is happening with a black woman like you know and she’s still gotta deal with this man on her her you know beating her down as well um so i think there’s a i think james baldwin is a very good palette a very good canvas from which we can um have conversation and we can um paint things that are missing we can pull things in you know you know it’s datum it’s a it’s a starting off point that could lead you to anywhere which is why the piece that we’re writing can’t be just james baldwin even though we started with that that we have to find audrey’s words and pull it in and we have to get a little angela davis and a little assata shakur and we have to like pull in this and that because um james baldwin you know even as forward thinking as he was he was living in a world where maleness ruled supreme over femaleness um and and and um he was victim to whatever the the limitations of ideological thought was at the time and if you come to the piece as well um what we do is we use the sermon as a way to get out information and we’re going you know we use urban farmers uh we use uh artists who deal with the water crisis it we try to use children we have children and children these children aren’t anywhere yes and he he talked about that people don’t make things for children you know ev you know you have to be really if you got to really search for things to bring your children to so when the gospel of james baldwin comes to your neighborhood make sure you come and you bring your children and you bring your old folks you bring everybody and this and it’s a less sit-down i mean yeah it’s best done when it’s kind of in a church setting people are mingling in and out and talking you know we’re trying to recreate the because the church the civil rights movement could not have happened without the church i mean the church was integral as a a a gathering place an intergenerational gathering place a physical location for people to meet and pass through and messages to pass from place to place um for for for gatherings to to happen you know and this metropolis i mean you know with gentrification these you know 18 to 35 white people are pushing us out of everywhere and you know we’re just being pushed into spaces where we have to travel an hour or two to get to work in the morning um that we have no time to spend with our children and by the time sunday comes around you’ve spent so much of your life doing work that you can’t um navigate a weekend you can’t have dinner with your people you have to be doing laundry and you know it’s it’s space you know real estate i think is a is a a big part of how we need to find space again for black people to to gather and to um to find our power and to be with each other and when i say real estate i don’t just mean you know a place together but like churches that we own like buildings that we have our names attached to that they can’t just you know expel us just because the landlord is raising the rent or um that you know but this is a longer conversation but we have to figure out we have to figure out how to question each other i love how you speak the truth and how you present it my daughter is upset that she didn’t get to come tonight but i learned a few stacey ants from my niece who went to school with you a while back in jamaica and i just wanted to find out have you presented um these type of to these types of audiences in jamaica absolutely and what is the feedback or raja you remember when we went to calabash the first time how scared i was i was the first time i was performing in jamaica i thought they were gonna kill me um but i couldn’t be internationally talking about this thing without going home to jamaica um but you know i had been convinced of my own people’s barbarism by this american notion i mean you know you know i had been attacked in jamaica and then i came i fled to the us to find safety as a lesbian um but i had made up the narrative that you know these jamaican people were homophobic and you know ready to kill you without the context of there are people in america who are homophobic and are ready to kill you too um and when i went home i mean we performed for an audience a standing ovation that first night um and then i’ve also gone home and like had to you know had to be shuffled out of the space and like you know that fooled the crowd and thinking i was in one car and they were chasing that car and put me in a different car but i’m saying that the you know this kind of work when you’re doing it you can’t be like you know getting you know applause in chicago without going to places where it really matters i mean i’m not saying you know put yourself in danger all the time but you can’t just be

speaking from a place of distance um you know as much as james baldwin fled and went to paris and wrote you know he still was traveling one of his last trips um across the u.s he actually went from like the southern towns and talked about things did town halls you um we can’t become these people who talk about our people like they’re these people um and so we have to find a way i mean i you know one of my aunts who is severely pentecostal christian you know um you know and you know i i heard her arguing with my mother on the phone my mother is like you know have you met her friend and my aunt is like what do you mean her friend and my mother is like you know her friend you know the one that you know her friend and my my aunt is like it’s not friend you have to say partner they say partner because they think you disrespect them when you don’t set partners so you have to set partner you can’t just say friend so you know so i’m you know i’m saying that sometimes you can’t assume that these that that that we are you know this is an almost entirely black audience and here i am talking about vagina and sex and you know i’m talking about sex with a woman and everybody’s still like giggling and laughing and treating me normal that’s you have to dispense with this idea that we are monolith we are not we are you know we have homophobic that we really need to take on and then we also have people who are like listen i don’t care what you eat [Applause] yes wow um first off hey stacy ann hello miss and daniel cello see i like how i flip that i see what you did there you see what i did there um first and foremost thank you for blessing us here and creating this moment of dialogue i truly appreciate you for it um being a proud father of a young black intelligent artistic and extremely amazing young lesbian woman i would want to know if you given the opportunity to tell your father or the significant men in your life how they can better support understand and be a part of your life what would you have said i think um again that is one of those things that it’s not a destination so much as it’s a journey so i would invite you to walk with me and um i would maybe ask us to map out you know a path of grace where we agree beforehand to forgive each other for the we up on um and that you should see me as a person with autonomy and i want you to dispense with the idea that you’re going to protect me because i’m a girl i want you to just protect me and expect me to protect you as well there’s an equity in the conversation around equality that is often missing when i talk to like some good men who are like yeah man i’d protect you no i’m being i’m showing you respect just i gotta hold the door for you and and you know hold the door for me but hold the door for the boy who follows me um you kindness cannot be gendered you know um just like discipline can’t be gendered you have to like walk with a um an understanding of me as a complete being who is able to move with agency and you have to trust that sometimes i know what i want regardless of what you want for me as my parents and so we can be in conversation about what you want from me um one of the things that i’m learning with a kid here who’s eight i cannot make her me nor can i move as if her journey is mine you know she um and you know i mean i talk a good talk up here but we we have the big arguments screaming in the house at the top and here you have all the power but you don’t have to use all the power all

the time you know so i’m you know i’m not saying she won’t be up here like talking about her and like saying about me 20 years from now all i’m saying is that you have to be as a parent ready to understand that you ain’t and i was not put here to serve you that we just on a journey together that we walking and that you you know i i have lessons to teach you just like you have lessons to teach me um you know and that’s a practice that’s that takes time it’s not gonna be like okay i tell you and then it’s gonna be that we have to like agree to set a way forward and keep moving that way um you know you know we we often feel like children are they’re not small people they’re just people i would like to say um oh no just because you say that um we would have an interesting child but um she’s she’s uh you see me with my children i i all i would say is um i’m more like a gardener some parents are like furniture makers and they’re like you’re gonna be a chair and they work they try to make a chair and they really work on the chair and they go and then they wonder why it’s wonky and and because it was a stool it’s probably a stool and um and i’m more like i’m just there to water and feed you and and cult you know weed you out a little bit and you know maybe put a stick up you know so you don’t fall over [Applause] yeah and then i’d also say um it’s one thing you said really sparked something i mean like you know my mother worried about more what how i looked and what kind of woman i’d be instead of what kind of person i am and i just say like you know just just just be kind to your children and have boundaries when you don’t when you disagree don’t sugarcoat it you know just you know just be kind and thoughtful and honest don’t lie don’t cheat you know that’s that’s what i’m learning as i get older don’t lie don’t cheat you know i love you i love you too you’re better because unrequited love is a all right so everyone feel they got you good yeah stand up for yourself i thank you [Applause] you