During the month of February, BRTW ensemble members are selecting personal Black heroes to highlight everyday. These heroes may have spoken the magic words that first made them see their Black beauty, the people who inspired them to become artists, or even the person who taught them how to make proper mixed greens.
Staceyann Chin is a fiercely talented womanist spoken word poet, performance artist, LGBT activist, and all-around woke human. I first heard Staceyann Chin’s poetry on Def Poetry Jam when I was in high school. This was part of an arts awakening for me, a four-year catharsis of seeing people I identify with onstage and in film with agency. Since moving to NYC, I’ve had the opportunity to see her one-woman show Motherstruck! at Culture Project, which was as honest and beautiful as it was filling. ‘Filling’ is a word that comes to mind often with her work, which often positions her own experiences within the context of social justice and change. Chin modeled a position with her work that I wanted to learn to emulate and no one teaches- to consciously not exist within a vacuum, to create work that inspires critical thoughts and activism while filling its audience like mama’s ribs and peach cobbler.
Much of her work touches on being a lesbian in unsafe homophobic environments, aching for motherhood on her own terms, using in vitro fertilization, and her relationship with her daughter. Her on again, off again YouTube series, Living Room Protest, features her daughter engaging in critical discussion with her on various issues of social justice. You can watch Staceyann and Zuri Chin take a stand for Planned Parenthood in a Living Room Protest video below.
Here’s Staceyann Chin performing her poem, All Oppression is Connected.
and Feminist or Womanist
– Heather Harvey
Co-founder & Ensemble Member