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Meet the Y: Performer and playwright Florinda Bryant
Playwright and performer Florinda Bryant first joined the YMCA seven years ago, and we love seeing her at her home branch of East Communities and around the community. She recently debuted a powerful new theatrical work, Black Do Crack, an exploration of the mythology of the strong black woman. As part of Black History Month in February and Women's History Month in March, the YMCA wants to spotlight not just the people of the past but the black women of our community who are living, leading, and creating now. You can check out Black Do Crack through March 1 at the Ground Floor Theater.
Florinda spoke to CBS Austin about the show. In the interview, she talks about prioritizing health and self-care for black women.
"We die younger," she said. "We take care of households, communities, allies, everyone, but sometimes we don't do such a good job of taking care of ourselves. I hope people take away (from Black Do Crack) the fact that we all have the right as humans to crack -- to take care of ourselves -- that we don't have to always push. We don't have to always keep going. . . . I'm hoping that people walk away with an awareness of what some of their neighbors, their coworkers, or friends are dealing with. Also that we all give ourselves permission to take care."
Florinda shared about how important the YMCA has been for her family. She says, "The Y has been instrumental to me in controlling my high blood pressure and trying to stay healthy and sane. It is my happy place. I've always had a rough time paying for it and I've always found the support that I needed to maintain a membership for my boys, my partner, and me. It Feels Like Home. The staff has always been amazing and encouraging. When I fall off, I'll walk back in and someone's happy to see me. It gives me courage and it means a lot. The Y has helped me and my family probably more than I could ever articulate, to stay connected."
Florinda also described her creative process and inspiration to Black Texas Magazine:
My art is how I pray. This piece was born in an attempt to process what I was experiencing at the time. I was working two jobs, management positions in the nonprofit world and it was post Sandra Bland and I have a Black son... and I just couldn't pretend to not see the dysfunction in my 'just keep pushing' mentality. So I started writing.
After 15 years of using art as vehicle for social justice I realized I needed to shift from holding space for others work to holding space for my own. The war against Black bodies is real, the war against Black women is real. I wanted to tell our story, my story. We aren't all Claire Huxtable, ya know. I represent a specific class, I tell our story to save us.
Inspiration for this piece came from a deep love, admiration and respect for the women around me. We talking Black girls, women you see around the way and most don't even notice. I thought about the strong black women I know and how most of them have passed in part because they were strong black women. Music and visual images also provide inspiration.
Performing my own work is the most exciting and terrifying experience, eva! I starting writing for performance so I could see characters I knew on stage, so I could hear our stories. I was tired of limited casting opportunities i.e. didn't want to be the maid. The freedom to perform my own truth is one of the greatest privileges of being an artist.
Congratulations to Florinda Bryant on her new show. Click here for tickets!
The YMCA is here to support black women and all people and communities in mind, body, and spirit health. Click here for more on membership and programs. Call your nearby YMCA branch to inquire about financial aid and program scholarships. We are committed to Membership For All.
Do you know a Y member we should spotlight? E-mail Community Engagement Director Erin Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help the Y provide scholarships for families like Florinda's! Give through the YMCA Annual Campaign today.
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