After 11 months of prepping, the Black Latina Movement presented their “Summer Series ‘16” in NYC on Wednesday, August 24th – Sunday, August 28th. This included three shows (Of Mothers and Men, The Colors of Love, and Black Latina, The Play) and film screenings.
Black Latina, The Play was originally a one-woman show. Written and performed by Crystal Shaniece Roman in 2008, the play was about the lives of dark-skinned and African-American Latinas. In 2013, with the help of director Veronica Caicedo, the play evolved into a five-member ensemble cast. I had the privilege of seeing the play in 2013 and was excited to see what new thought-provoking content the play would offer this time around.
On this Friday night I eagerly sat in the dark theater anticipating what was to come. The stage had few props—caution tape and four black boxes to be exact. In the midst of these items stood five Black women who varied in body shape, height, and skin tone. These women took their places on stage and set out to answer the very question every Afro-Latina/Black Latina has been asked more than once; “Are you Black or Latina?”
Dressed in orange jail-esque jumpsuits, it was clear that the women were not only physically in jail, but life issues also had their minds in a state of imprisonment. Through various avenues, which included monologues, dancing, and singing, the women covered many important themes: self-identification, love, sadness, and empowerment.
But the dominant theme seemed to be fear–where it comes from, dealing with it, and overcoming it.
A poignant moment was the mention of Black men being murdered by police officers and the realization that young boys of color, who are unaware of what is going on in today’s society, still want to become cops. This was specifically added into the play via a recent experience writer Crystal Roman had with her son.
There were several other relatable moments. Like the mention of the family member who suggests you bring home someone light skin so your children will look a certain way, being treated differently because people can’t put you in a box, hating your features and wanting to change them (even though the world is in love with our culture), realizing that we often discriminate against our own, and understanding that Afro/Black Latinos do exist and we don’t have to choose one or the other.
“This love of mine for these two worlds” was echoed throughout the play. The words spoken were mine and everyone’s in the audience. The actresses not only delivered their lines, they connected to them and made us feel them. The variety within the cast allowed the audience to visually identify with someone and relate to them. And the fact that not all cast members were Latina made it clear that all the issues discussed affect every woman of color.
For anyone who has ever felt left out or has been questioned because of how they look or the color of their skin, Black Latina, The Play is for you.
In the end, the five women came out of their imprisonment by shedding their jumpsuits and letting go of their cultural identity issues and struggles by embracing who they are. Ultimately answering the question that was asked at the beginning of the play, with a response of: “I am a Black Latina, and Black is beautiful.”
Photo Credit: Tamika Burgess & Black Latina Movement
Latest posts by Tamika Burgess (see all)
- I Want to Get Married - October 18, 2017
- I Broke Up With My Toxic Friend - June 25, 2017
- My Natural Hair Journey Reminds Me That I Am Beautiful - May 24, 2017