Bay Area teens Jessica Hairston and Camille Schmitt have been learning a lot about identity lately, through experiences like watching Black Lives Matter co-founder, Alicia Garza, on Youtube videos and meeting former Black Panther Ericka Huggins in person.
The video watching and in-person meetings have been part of the intensive study over the past few months, as they prepare to participate alongside around 40 other young people in an unusual show about violence and race.
Under the artistic direction of Sarah Crowell and Rashidi Omari of the Oakland-based youth arts organization, Destiny Arts Center, in collaboration with Nicole Klaymoon of Embodiment Project, a hip hop dance theater company based in the Bay Area, Seed Language: A New Identity is a documentary theater production. It features 10 interviews with Bay Area artists, activists and elders and aims to explore violence against people of color.
“One main theme is Black Lives Matter, but in the grand scheme of things, it's about race and addressing the day to day issues,” says Hairston, 17, who embodies Garza, in the production. “The fact that we're doing a show is healing," Hairston says. "Being able to talk about the things that scare me is healing.”