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© 2016 Irma Herrera

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Who Is Safe?

August 18, 2019

 

The version of my play that was on stage for five months through the end of March 2019 poses a series of questions (paraphrased here). Does having a Muslim ban make us safer? Does it add to our nation’s security when we separate and cage immigrant children from parents seeking asylum? What does it say about a country that needs a massive social movement to tell us that Black Lives Matter? And I can assure you that ALL efforts to strip gay, lesbian, and transgender folks of their basic humanity do nothing to make me feel safer.

 

To the contrary so much of what has happened in the past several years has left tens of millions of Americans like me feeling much less safe. Because in fact we are less safe. Black and brown people, both immigrant and native born including our duly elected Congressional Representatives have become the targets of verbal and physical abuse starting from the White House and rolling on down.

 

The hate speech and vitriol directed at us have led to targeted attacks and heartbreak for so many of our families and communities as we reel from killings at synagogues, prayer meetings at church, nightclubs, festivals, Wal-Mart.

 

As I reflect on the changes I will make to my one-woman show for upcoming performances to reflect the growing prejudice and its impact, more than anything I am profoundly sad. It feels so personal to know that people like me are described as vermin, invaders, criminals – the enemy -- less than human. People who can be hunted down at as we shop back to school specials at Wal-Mart merely because we are Mexican.

 

Some days I stare at my computer and ask myself, what is the point of putting words on the page or saying them on stage; what is the value of what I am doing? Should I return to law; can I make the lives of a few children better by being a schoolteacher or tutoring children? Can I help them develop to their fullest potential? Where can I do most good? And then, like a message from the universe, I see this Maya Angelou quote written many years ago.

 

“In today’s climate in our country, which is sickened with the pollution of pollution, threatened with the prominence of AIDS, riddled with burgeoning racism, rife with growing huddles of homeless, we need art and we need art in all forms. We need all methods of art to be present, everywhere present, and all the time present.”

~Maya Angelou

 

So I’ll keep writing and performing. And I thank you for reading and watching.

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