Tonight I saw my friend Dominique Fishback performing her solo show SUBVERTED in the East Village, NYC. Dominique exudes charisma and talent, pure talent, but on top of that her words rip the bandaid off the historical moral injury American society has perpetrated against black people for centuries.
Dominique questions why she's told to be grateful and pledge allegiance to a country built on the backs of her ancestors. During the days of slavery white slave owners physically whipped and hung black people. Now cops are murdering black people in the streets with guns, they are being filmed doing it, and they are getting away with it. This quote repeats throughout the show:
"Part of the mechanics of oppressing people is to pervert them to the extent that they become the instruments of their own oppression." - Kumasi
In SUBVERTED the main character's neighbors, the people she grew up with and around, are 'prisoners of the block' becoming instruments of their own oppression as they deal with broken homes, racial profiling from cops, and teachers who don't teach them standard English grammar, among other issues. They search for acceptance and love by joining gangs while also judging one another by the standards put in place by an inherently racist system. Surrounded by junk food chains and police towers the system trains them to accept feeling locked in with limited choices.
Words, reading, writing, and finding a means of expression become powerful tools for the characters in SUBVERTED. In finding her voice Dominique's character begins to shake up the world around her and insist that world wakes up with her. As does Dominique with this show. You absolutely cannot help but be moved after watching her.
On my train ride home I overheard two black men sitting across from me talking about race in America. What they were saying really resonated with what Dominique explores in her show and after listening to them for 20 minutes or so I dared to find a moment to cut in. It felt awkward to randomly talk to someone on the train, much less about race, but I told them a little about Dominique's show and gave them my SUBVERTED playbill so they could look up the info. The guy who had been doing most of the talking seemed happy I reached out and the other guy was already looking at his schedule to see when he could see SUBVERTED. I really hope they do!
Somewhere in the rinse wash repeat cycle of making money and trying to stay alive it's easy to lose track of LIVING. Easy to forget our responsibility to one another to be present, alive, and communicative. Conversation with others, opening up to our loved ones, parents, friends, opening up to our co-workers, the people we see everyday working in the lobby of our work building, the humans we stand next to and sit across from on the subway in NYC, is the key to peace. Living in the present, eliminating systems of injustice and working towards understanding are the keys to peace. And my god, are we ever a country in need of peace.
Please go see Dominique's play SUBVERTED. It's playing on Monday September 26th, Wednesday 28th
All Performances 8pm
East 3rd St, NY, NY, 10009
- Lillian Isabella
I am an advocate for gender parity in the entertainment world and write, act, and produce with a mind to facilitate that change.