To kill a tune: one word, the censorship of an opera company | Entertainment
Good cop, bad cop; social worker, serial killer – the world supports all kinds of humans. But often our history books and memories stop before we represent each of them factually.
For 6 p.m. in the spring of 1921, white residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked people, homes, businesses, and places of worship in the predominantly black (and some Irish) Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa. The business district with its surrounding residential area flourished and was known as “Black Wall Street”. Angry whites reduced it to ashes and glass, and the event remains one of the most appalling examples of racial violence in U.S. history.
It was also, for a time, one of the lesser known. The reports somehow disappeared, despite the fact that hundreds of people were murdered and thousands of other missing homes, businesses and churches were also gone.
On May 25, the country’s artistic institutions will premiere the short film “They Always Want Us to Kill”, the aria by Daniel Bernard Roumain performed by mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges. Director Yoram Savion directs and the play pays homage to the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. The work is scheduled to mark a year since the murder of George Floyd and comments on our progress over the past century on race in general and how we treat black people.
Recently, Tulsa Opera hired a musician and Romanian advocate to compose a piece depicting the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. When Romanian asked for a librettist, he learned that there was not enough funding, and Tobias Picker, artistic director of Tulsa Opera, advised Romanian to provide its own libretto. The deadline was approaching, so Romanian wrote his own words, which he said told the story more honestly. Picker asked her to change one word, “damn”, in this sequence: “God Bless America / God Damn America”.
For Roumain, that meant his point was lost. He was trying to show the hypocrisy of our country by committing atrocities in the name of the country and of God. Blacks, Aboriginals, and people of color in America have received a great deal of inhuman treatment, leading Romanian to reject Picker’s recommended word deletion.
Roumain was pulled from the company’s project almost immediately and was told that although he would be paid in full, his piece would not be shown.
The program includes the premiere of Savion’s film, a talk with Romanian, moderated by Jamilla Deria, Executive Director of the UMass Amherst Fine Arts Center, and a statement by Damario Solomon-Simmons of the Justice for Greenwood Foundation.
“We have to uplift each other,” said Deria, “and the (Romanian) project is a perfect vehicle for demonstrating both the brutal reality and the community potential of American society. In other words, we are a free country brimming with opportunity – to produce both harm and relief.
“They Still Want to Kill Us” was filmed in May in New York City and at the Seneca Village site in Central Park (which no longer exists), a 19th century settlement mostly populated by the largest number of African-American landowners. in New York before the Civil War. War. The site was demolished to make way for Central Park.
The Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, through a link between Executive Director Tamara Loewenthal and advocates for a global music group called North American Presenters, was able to help support the film.
“We artists have to kind of be reactive,” Loewenthal said in a telephone interview. The artists stick out their necks, calling for change. Bloomington is a pretty white town. … We need lawyers.
Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, established in 1994, is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization based in Bloomington, to explore world cultures, through the arts. Lotus offers the annual flagship Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, Lotus Blossoms educational outreach, visual arts program, and programming and special events with community partners throughout the year. .
For those who want to help, the Justice for Greenwood Foundation, at justiceforgreenwood.org/, is a network of lawyers, volunteers, experts, and descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre seeking accountability, to get compensation, publish and tell more truth about the 1921 Tulsa Racial Massacre.