Wednesday, October 10, 2018

White Nights, Black Paradise Comes to the Hudson Theatre in November/December




San Francisco, 1975
Jonestown, 1978
They came out with pitchforks when we moved here. The women in their white pearls and pressed gloves, the men dressed to the nines in suits and ties, beat down to a steaming pulp after a long day at the office, wraiths fastening their lips to big orange bullhorns like it was the bottom of the ninth at a Giants game. The whitest of white stalking the joint, out in the street for a tea party, pinkies raised at attention. 

We could see the Bay curling out at us when we drove in from Cottonwood, California, the five of us packed into the Dodge, watching green-eyed monster waves cut in pieces by the bridge, shimmering, debating, telling us how ‘the Cause’ was gonna cure everything. 

Workshopped at the Robey Theatre Company Playwrights' Workshop

TICKETS: http://bit.ly/wnbp-hud
Discount code: 410

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

NARCOLEPSY, Inc Web-series Pilot Drops Winter 2018-19



"Reports of my demise are somewhat exaggerated"

NARCOLEPSY, Inc, the web-series based on Sikivu Hutchinson's Hollywood Fringe Fest play set in post-apocalyptic Reagan-era U.S., drops Winter 2018-19.  The cast features Elvinet Piard (Yuri), Cydney Wayne Davis (Garcon), JC Cadena (Dr. M) and Scott St. Patrick Williams (Friar Perry). Speculative fiction set in a theocratic state where sleep and dreams are policed and manufactured by the multinational, Narcolepsy, Inc. whose chief scientist and engineer, a queer Black woman, is under house arrest for selling company secrets. Narcolepsy, Inc. has established a racialized caste system of sleepers (teeth grinder and insomniacs) in which the dreams of lower caste members are commodified and all sleep is induced.

"PHENOMENAL!!! The writing is excellent! It weaves together the themes of life for Black women under capitalism, the role of religion in society and so much more!" Yuisa Gimeno, Review, June 2018

"A politicized contemporary Twilight Zone episode in which we don't know whether the lead character is being held in a motel room or a detention center, and we don't know if she is an idealistic whistle blower or apparently complicit with the evil deeds of an immoral corporation...Who is guilty and who is innocent?" Review, June 2018





"Fascinating, a great play, touching on Big Brother and corporations’ control of citizens. Americans of African Ancestry’s (teeth grinders) dreams are controlled by the State and corporations" Von Hurt, Review June 2018


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Shut up and Step Up: Right Whines It's 'Open Season' on White Men




By Sikivu Hutchinson

In a year that has seen the toppling of numerous “untouchable” male power brokers over sexual harassment and violence, Senator Mazie Hirono’s demand that men “Shut up and step up” concerning the sexual assault allegations against SCOTUS candidate Brett Kavanaugh is a call to action.  To all the “enlightened” males who publicly deplore violence against women, yet sit back and cosign sexist behavior and benefit from a culture of normalized sexual violence, it is a message that you are being watched and held accountable.  And to all the white women who have jumped on the character witness bandwagon to valorize Kavanaugh it should be a reminder that simply being assigned female at birth doesn’t exempt you from complicity with patriarchy and the silencing of sexual violence survivors. 

While the death threats Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford has received for speaking her truth are deeply reprehensible, they have been buttressed by female voices.  For the past twenty four hours, the major cable news networks have ramped up air time of pro-Kavanaugh ads produced by the conservative Judicial Crisis Network. The most prominent ad features respectable white women waxing about how upstanding and morally unimpeachable Kavanaugh is.  The not so subtle implication is that Kavanaugh can’t be a sexual predator, misogynist or threat to women’s equality if he’s been an “advocate” for women in his personal and professional relationships. He can’t have attempted a brutal sexual assault because he’s been an upstanding champion of female colleagues. Kavanaugh, like elite ivory tower brethren Brock Turner (the former Stanford University student whose lenient six-month prison sentence for sexual assault elicited a firestorm and led to the recall of Judge Aaron Persky), has an impeccable pedigree and should be forgiven youthful “peccadillos”.  For survivors, this paradox of exhibiting personal “integrity” while propping up racist, sexist, misogynist policies and practices is a familiar narrative.  Of course, central to victim shaming and blaming is the narrative that there are fundamentally good men who never cross the line but for the sluttish behavior of irresponsible women and girls. According to this view, predators are easy to spot, wear scarlet letters, and are always outwardly loathsome, reptilian individuals.  The only predators are serial predators and displays of decency, civility and good manners always attest to moral character.  And even respectable white women like Ford must comply with the code of silence protecting toxic masculinity.

The demonization of Ford by the right is yet another indication of how low the GOP fascists are willing to go to gut human and civil rights. According to ReproAction Network, Kavanaugh’s repugnant record on women’s rights puts him lockstep with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.  His now well-documented insidious appellate court decisions include voting against abortion access for an undocumented teenager and in favor of forced abortions for disabled women, as well as judgments  opposing affirmative action, workers’ rights, disability rights, and the Affordable Care Act. 
   
According to conservative ideologue Ann Coulter, the fate of white men’s public integrity as a whole is at stake because of the “attack” on Kavanaugh.  In this Democratic-engineered, deep state witch hunt, it’s open season on white men and “any white male” can find himself roasting at the stake.  Coulter’s injection of white patriarchal anxiety into the controversy is fitting because it speaks to the way the mainstream hijacking of #MeToo both flouts and reinforces white supremacy—to how white nationhood, as represented by white male dominance and white female submission, must always be validated and protected at all costs. It’s no surprise that some of the most "compelling" spokespeople in this enterprise are the white women who handed Trump the presidency.  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Future of Feminism in South L.A.: Girls of Color Speak Their Truths




By Sikivu Hutchinson

What is Black feminism and intersectional feminism and why are they relevant to girls of color in South Los Angeles? How do they disrupt white supremacy and what can younger Black, Latinx, indigenous and Asian American feminists learn from older generation feminists of color and vice versa? What does it mean, as bell hooks says in her book Feminism is for Everybody, that, “[we’re] socialized from birth on to accept sexist thought and action…[and] in order to end patriarchy we need to be clear that we are all participants in perpetuating sexism”?

Youth leaders debated and spoke to these questions at the recent Future of Feminism youth leadership conference at Cal State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH).  Sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Project, the L.A. County Human Relations Commission and Media Done Responsibly, the conference featured youth-facilitated workshops, videos, presentations, and a musical performance by women and girls of color from across Los Angeles County.  Students from Dorsey High School, Gardena High School, Fremont High School, Diego Rivera Academy, Carson High School, King-Drew Magnet High School and Miguel Contreras Learning Complex attended the conference.  The event was emceed by WLP alumni and former foster care youth Clay Wesley (WLP 2009, Mount St Mary’s University, 2018) and Drea Wooden (WLP 2017).  The conference kicked off with a WLP-produced video on sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention, spotlighting the perspectives of youth from the 2016 cohort at Gardena High School.  The video was followed by a student panel on the #MeToo movement featuring WLP students and alumni from Gardena, Dorsey, and King-Drew.  Students Imani Moses (WLP 2011), Lizeth Soria (WLP 2012), Marenda Kyle (WLP 2014), Shania Malone (WLP 2018), Cheyanne Mclaren (WLP 2019) and Lidia Colocho (WLP 2019) discussed the marginalization of black and Latinx girls in mainstream representations about the impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in school communities.  The panelists also challenged straight cis young men to step up as allies in the fight against normalized sexism, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape culture on school campuses. 



College community partners and high school youth conducted workshop presentations on sexual violence and homelessness, Black feminism, gender justice and labor organizing, countering “fake news” and disrupting criminalization in communities of color.  Students from the GSA Network, Media Done Responsibly, Peace Over Violence and the WLP alumni network presented social, racial, and gender justice youth leadership work that they have been doing at partner schools for the past several years.  Former WLP intern and CSULB graduate Marlene Montanez presented on the advantages of union organizing and involvement for women and girls of color, drawing from her experience as an undocumented student activist for the Future Undocumented Educational Leaders (FUEL) group.  Peace Over Violence students from Miguel Contreras Learning Complex discussed the intersections of sexual violence and homelessness vis-à-vis risk factors and challenges that confront sexual violence survivors of color.  CSULA students from Media Done Responsibly examined the pervasiveness of right wing political propaganda in mainstream news and its impact on representations of women of color.  WLP students from Gardena, King-Drew, and Dorsey presented their work on Black feminist cultural politics, the #Say Her Name movement, and strategies to counter victim-blaming, victim-shaming and misogynoir in sexual violence and sexual harassment directed toward Black girls.  Fremont High School’s GSA Network conducted an exhibition game on the structure of the school-to-prison pipeline and its disproportionate impact on LGBTQI, queer and gender non-conforming youth of color. 



The conference concluded with a powerful performance by internationally acclaimed electric guitarist and producer Malina Moye.  Moye discussed her experience as a homeless youth living on the streets when she first moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of her career.  She encouraged students to pursue their dreams and aspirations in resistance to the sexist expectations of the dominant culture.  Youth participants also received books on the lived experiences of girls of color by feminist authors Iris Jacob (MySisters’ Voices), Yesika Salgado (Corazon) and Mahagony Browne (Black Girl Magic).  In July, students participated in follow-up Black Feminist and Feminist of Color Institutes that brought youth leaders together with adult mentor artists, educators, entrepreneurs and health practitioners from across L.A.  Using hooks’ book Feminism is for Everybody as a stepping stone, youth addressed public policy around abortion rights, college access for undocumented youth, underreporting of rape and sexual assault in communities of color and ending targeted searches of black and Latinx students in the LAUSD.


WLP classes and peer education outreach resumes at partner campuses in September.




























Thursday, July 26, 2018

Oppose the Abortion Gag Rule, Oppose State Violence




By Sikivu Hutchinson

I have always considered so-called “pro-life” anti-abortion zealots to be virulently pro-death.  Not just the male stalkers who terrorize and police women with plastic bloody fetuses outside of abortion clinics, but the female anti-abortion architects who wear their complicity with white supremacist capitalist patriarchy proudly and unabashedly, rail against birth control and welfare, and demonize black children who are warehoused in foster care, jails and in the streets because of the neoliberal destruction of the social safety net. In a 2014 discussion between feminist cultural critic bell hooks and trans activist and actress Laverne Cox, hooks argued that folks who are against reproductive health care can’t be considered feminists.  In this era, when women’s right to self-determination is under siege on multiple levels, being for reproductive justice is non-negotiable for a feminism based on economic justice. 

The Trump administration’s potential restoration of the so-called domestic “gag rule” (which was originally implemented by the Reagan administration in 1988 and was rescinded by president Clinton in 1993) is the latest act of state violence against women’s right to self-determination which directly attacks poor women of color.  It would prohibit health care providers who receive federal Title X funds from informing patients about abortion services. It would also “require physical and financial separation” of a clinic’s abortion-related services from its Title X services.  Instituted under the Nixon administration, Title X funds are specifically designated for family planning and preventive health care for low income and uninsured patients.  Title X provides funding for birth control, cancer and STD/STI screening and pregnancy counseling services. As part of the Religious Right’s “death by a thousand cuts” strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, the policy takes direct aim at Planned Parenthood, one of the biggest sources of health care for women in the U.S.  Planned Parenthood and other health care providers which receive Title X funding are frequently the only federally funded providers in rural and low-income communities.  The gag rule is opposed by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

Restricting providers from giving women full and accurate information about their options for abortion subverts the very foundation of trust between patient and practitioner.  Like the totalitarian prohibitions on speech and information in George Orwell’s novel 1984, the gag order would effectively condemn working class women to incomplete and/or inaccurate information while middle class women with private health coverage would continue to be empowered with the resources and information to control their bodies.  The gag rule essentially extends the anti-abortion ethos of the 1976 Hyde Amendment (which banned federal funding for abortions except for rape and incest) to medical speech.  It lays bare the most dangerous element of the Trump administration’s anti-abortion crusade—the complete and utter fascist colonization of women’s reproduction via state violence. 

Women of color overwhelmingly rely on Title X funded clinics for comprehensive care and counseling on family planning. According to California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Latinas comprise 53% of the nearly one million women who receive services at Title X clinics in California. Further, nearly a million African American women rely on Title X funded health care. According to the Black Women’s Health Imperative, 21% of patients who rely on Title X for birth control and reproductive health care are African American.  The gag rule—coupled with the wave of reproductive health care clinic closures that have devastated poor communities of color in the South and Midwest—are clear examples of how abortion is an economic justice issue, a vital pathway that affords women access to jobs, housing, education and wealth equity when they’re in control of their bodies and destinies.  And any entity that would aid and abet Trump’s criminal gag rule is not “pro-life” but an accessory to state violence.

Reproductive justice organizations are calling on communities to protest the gag rule by submitting comments to Health and Human Services by July 31st.

Twitter @sikivuhutch

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Unapologetically Black Women Beyond Belief: Historic Cover of Humanist Magazine


By Sikivu Hutchinson

For the first time ever, a group of openly identified Black women atheists has been featured on the cover of an American publication. The Humanist Magazine’s July/August issue, “Five Fierce Humanists: Unapologetically Black Women Beyond Belief” spotlights the cultural and political views of Black women non-believers in a Trumpian, Christian fundamentalist political climate that (on the precipice of Roe v. Wade's potential demise) threatens the very firmament of secularism, social justice, gender justice, and human rights. I'm honored to be featured with fellow Black women non-believer authors, educators and activists Mandisa Thomas, Liz Ross, Bria Crutchfield and Candace Gorham.

In a nation in which the vast majority of the African American and general population identifies as religious, the Humanist magazine feature is a turning point in Black women’s representation. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black women are one of the most devout groups in the U.S.  And faith has long been a tacit prerequisite for “authentic” black female identity and respectability.  Leading by example, these women have pushed back against sexist, heteronormative religious dogma and discrimination in communities of color. They have brought a uniquely intersectional, black feminist vision to humanism while also challenging white supremacy and racist exclusion in historically Eurocentric atheist, humanist, and freethought circles. Although there has long been a robust tradition of black secular thought, the reductive association of atheism, humanism, and freethought with a church-state separation and science agenda has stymied participation by people of color in secular movements.  Moreover, white atheist and humanist cosigning of racist perceptions of African Americans and people of color, as well as backlash against social justice organizing, further underscore the racial divide that informs secularism...  



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SCOTUS' Janus Face: Public Enemy Number One for Unions and Civil Rights




By Sikivu Hutchinson

Across Trump nation, neofascists are licking their chops, as this week saw several titanic rulings that will forever cement the Trump era Supreme Court as the mortal enemy of human rights, civil rights, and worker rights.  In a sweeping blow to humanistic values, the Court upheld the Trump administration’s travel ban policy targeting mostly Muslim countries and diminished public employee unions’ ability to collect dues to support collective bargaining.  By upholding the travel ban, the Supreme Court has put a lasting legal imprimatur on Trump’s xenophobic/Islamophobic crusade to demonize Muslims as racial and religious others.  Posing as an objective advocate for “religious liberty” the Court’s earlier decision affirming the right of so-called crisis pregnancy centers (which are primarily run by far right Christian anti-abortion organizations and are not medically certified) to hoodwink their clients about abortion and reproductive health care services was also an insidious harbinger for Roe v. Wade's demise.  While the crisis pregnancy ruling was embraced by right wing Christian, predominantly white evangelical groups, they remained silent on the immorality and religious McCarthyism symbolized by the travel ban. 

The Court's anti-union ruling in favor of Janus vs. AFSCME would enshrine so-called “Right to Work” laws that favor management and corporate control. The Right to Work movement (28 states now have such laws) has been bankrolled by powerful robber barons like the Koch Brothers and the Bradley Foundation. It has origins in white segregationist efforts to drive a wedge between black and white workers in the South. As Holly Martins notes in The Daily, the legacy of the movement encompasses the ultra-conservative John Birch Society, as well as “the influence of Biblical capitalism, which has long promoted the notion that the Bible endorses free enterprise and abhors socialism. The first executives in the National Association of Manufacturers argued unions were in open warfare against Christianity.” By gutting the right of unions to be compensated for collective bargaining and organizing, the Janus decision could reverse decades of gains for American workers.  As the wages of corporate CEOs continue to skyrocket over those of rank and file workers, the public sector has become one of the last bastions of security for working class people of color and women of color.  For example, Black women are more likely to be employed in public sector jobs than both white women and black men, while making 60 cents to the dollar of white men.  They also remain one of the most visible and active groups in public sector union organizing. 

As a L.A. County shop steward for ten years, I've seen the pre-Janus pall the Right to Work regime has cast on our workplaces manifest in the attitudes of employees too fearful or intimidated to become active in the union. Janus will have long lasting repercussions for the workplace protections, living wage, retirement and child care provisions unions have fought for and successfully won over the past half century.  Unions have long been a bulwark against the unchecked plutocratic profit and greed of American capital and the ability of workers across the spectrum. Now, the Right to Work regime and its Supreme Court enablers have further institutionalized a Dickensian, apartheid U.S. whose poverty levels are the shame of the globe. 


Union Strong Rally 
Thursday, June 28, 2018
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Los Angeles City Hall
200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012