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Sunday, November 29, 2015

I'm Giving on Tuesday: Theatre for Transformation

Anger and Despair.

Police killings, terrorists attacks, and the sheer disregard for the sanctity of life have me ping ponging between these two feelings. 

Most art does not address the profound injustice and racism that permeate our society and even our movements to make things better.  

But art has the power to make the invisible visible.  

After taking some time off, I've returned as the lead artist and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Theatre for Transformation.

Please join me in making a tax deductible donation to TFT.  We are launching a campaign to raise $15,000 by midnight on Dec. 1, Giving Tuesday.  

Honoring and drawing upon the wisdom and sacred energy of African American culture, Theatre for Transformation creates performances for all people.

TFT was born while I was on spiritual retreat at Pendle Hill in 2008. 

We incorporated in 2010 and were awarded our tax exempt status by the IRS in 2011.  Like many small organizations we grew quickly and then floundered when we tried to mimic larger arts organizations. 

Five years and several grants later, we are clear that we exist to produce meaningful art that compensates artists well with the minimum amount of organizational structure required to manage our treasure and relationships.

We are raising $15,000 to:
  • Pay artist commissions
  • Pay for travel, accommodation and meals of artists during rehearsals
  • Pay for administrative, bookkeeping, and other operations costs
  • Pay for insurances, tax filings, and legal expenses

Honoraria from presenters pay artists but do not include enough to pay for the development and administrative costs that allow us to get creative work on stage.

If you like what we do in schools, faith communities, colleges and community settings, please show us some love.  Give now.  

Peace and love!
Vice Chair of the Board and Founder

P.P.S.--If you'd rather send a check, please make it payable to Theatre for Transformation and mail to 342 N. Queen St. Lancaster, PA 17601.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Walking While Black

This morning after my usual high protein breakfast of black beans, salmon, salad and a bite of eggs, I set out on my 15 minute brisk walk.  (I started this routine after hearing Tim Ferris author of The 4 Hour Body.)

I don't like to be cold--except when I'm heat flashing-so I added a mid-thigh black suede coat to my ensemble.

I start walking.  I see a white family of three or four kids and two adults playing while waiting for the school bus.

Immediately, I feel weird.  I feel like a threat. I am Black, dark brown complected.  I have dread locks.   I am wearing a black coat that could conceal something bad.

This is not my neighborhood, not my state and not my home.  I am an outsider.  I am in a middle class neighborhood in Hamden, Ct.

No one in the family speaks and I keep my eyes forward so as not to offend or be offended.  I feel fear.

It is 8:25am.  I worry that someone will call the police about a suspicious Black woman walking.

As I walk, I wish I had chosen my lime green sweater.  It's cute and it seems to increase my innocence.

Black is dangerous.  It hides things.  I'm dangerous.  I could be hiding something.

These are the automatic thoughts that I notice myself thinking only after I pass another collection of white adults and children waiting for the school bus.  As I pass this group, a woman smiles and says "Good morning."  I respond "Good morning" and smile back.  A little.  I keep walking.

Going down a steep hill,  I realize I've internalized all of these messages about Black people, about myself as a threat.  I pick up speed.  There's nothing wrong with me, I insist, still worried about my black mid-thigh suede coat that a white friend had given to me.  You're going to be okay, I tell myself.  I search for a hair band to tie up my dreads.  No luck.

As I turn around to ascend the hill, I open the coat.  There, nobody will think I'm hiding a weapon.  I'm wearing a pink fitted sweater and olive cardigan underneath my jacket.  I am innocently female. (I know, #SayHerName, but I'm just doing what I can.)

As I huff and puff my way to the top of the hill, I feel a little relieved that all the families are gone. I don't feel like a threat.

I practice what I will say to the police:  I'm visiting my friend ________and her address is... I'm proud that I remember her address.  

I worry about my son, about black boys and men who walk outside their neighborhoods.   Threatening.  Suspicious.  (Trayvon Martin sits in the back of my consciousness.)  I worry that they don't have female innocence to draw on.  A cute lime green sweater or a fitted pink top to cue the outside world that they are not a threat.  (Of course that did not save Sandra Bland.)

I am facing traffic.  Cars come at me.  There's no sidewalk here.  People who walk are unexpected. Will the dark coat could hide me from a careless, momentarily distracted driver?

I arrive home.

I go to the guest bedroom.

I meditate.

I write.

This is what it's like to "Walk while Black."

Peace and love,

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Heaven or Hell?

I haven’t believed in a location called hell since I encountered my first atheist at age fourteen.  She was an effervescent French girl who wore loads of make up and used Evian to cool herself down when she got too excited.  I grew to love, Elsa, but was anxious for her soul when she announced there was no God.  That she did not get struck down immediately shocked me almost as much as her pronouncement.

Since then, I’ve lived with Hell as a state of Separation.

Better said:  Hell is other people. 

Hell is:
People who cut you off in traffic.
Police you can’t trust.
Your children.
People who don’t hold the door for you.
Your boss.
Your direct report.
Your kid’s teacher
The person in front of you at the check-out
etc. etc

"Other people" are everywhere. 

I love this quote because it points to the inevitable suffering when we see ourselves as separate from "other people."

At any given moment we can choose hell, separating ourselves from “others” who harm us or those we love.  We can make “other people” the problem, the threat, the only thing separating us from contentment. 

It makes sense.  People do crappy things to each other.  Systems encourage individuals to separate and harm each other.  It makes sense to fight back.  

It makes sense to accept the Us vs. Them equation especially when the other side clearly sees me as a “them” to exterminate. 

And, yet I’ve got this thread, an unbreakable thin line connected to my heart that says: We can’t win this game. 

If the solution is only more separation, then we keep losing.

Brother Martin famously said “an eye for an eye leaves us all blind.”  

Albert Einstein warned "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our minds..."

My sponsor used to say "Do you want to be right or happy?"  

Whenever you get pulled in to condemning others, into hell, start to look towards another consciousness.  Here are some possibilities:

If you're ready for a little taste of heaven, practice one of these methods or your own first and then take action. 

Let Oneness ground your actions. Let me know how it goes!

Peace and Love!