The MenStroll Cycles is a dramatic poemplay examining the sociopolitical state of Black men in America. Written, produced, and curated by Rachel N. Hastings, The MenStroll Cycles uses literary, performance, and digital art to interrogate antiBlack social conditions and to educate audiences about the historical and cultural cycles leading to criminalization. As a fast-paced, rhythmic journey through Black intelligencia, Hastings's performance is inspired by the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and movements like Black Lives Matter, which highlight a pattern of racial crises emerging around issues of police and community relations, institutional and systemic exclusion, and the disproportionate number of Black men in prison. Rarely are Black men and women represented as allies against a common foe. Hastings counters the notion that Black people cannot advocate and critique one another, while offering a critical Blackademik narrative about the use of performance as an artistic act of political resistance.

Black Human

Black Human
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am a black (hu)man
I am an African.
But they called me nga
I hail from the West Indies.
But I am still called nga
I am an AfraMexicana
Labeled as a nga from Mexico
I said please—call me African American
They said, same ngas different nation
I stated, I am Negrito.
Someone yelled: Baby ngas from da Pacific Islands.
I was once called a Moor.
They said, Moors were like these
OG ngas traveling through the Middle East
and eastern Europe—
like some 500 odd years ago!
We are humans
And we have always been Black.
So, when we talk about Black culture in the United States
We have to be mindful that we don't start with slavery
As the conceptual moment of our existence.
If we are going to take up the position that Black—
Or Africans in America
Had complete cultural, social, and political systems
Resulting in several thriving societies, cultures, and civilizations
Pre-dating their encounters with Europeans,
Then we must take it back.
Waaay, waayy, back.
Before the transatlantic slave trade
Across the Middle Passage
Over the city of bones
Where we
In all of our Black skin
Were something Moor
Than any one nation.
Where we
Were the eye of God
We have to understand
How of all the possible combinations of spirits to conjure up
The ancestors and the an-sisters selected us
To enter this world.
We have to take it back to then.
To that moment before our feet left the continent of Africa.
If
we are going to make that argument—
Which I am,
Then we
Must recognize that the ancestors and the an-sisters are still with us
That of all the possible combinations of spirits to conjure up
They still selected each and every one of us
To enter this world.
To bring a change to a land that denies our human potential before we are even born.
We are black seeds,
Who will one day become Black humans.
Africans
Born in America.
They call us African American
But we are Black men and women
With roots in the islands
Where our ancestors were called Negro
And roots in Mexico
Where our ancestors were called Negro
And roots in the United States
Where we were called Negro
Because our Black African island skin was once the color of midnight granite
Moor than 500 years ago
When the Black man roamed the earth
Like it was his playground
And the Black woman fed life into the mouths of their children
And the whole world grew strong.
I speak to you today as a professor to Black men
But I am also the partner to a Black man
The daughter of a Black man
The sister of a Black man
I am the mother to two Black boys
Who will one day become Black men
I am the Black man's woman.
Pause
No fuck that.
I'm my own woman.
But the Black man knows that.
He honors that.
The Black man knows I am his other
His daughter
His sister
His mother
His teacher and his student
I've been raising Black men my whole life
Because they keep raising me
Up
And it is up to us
Not to give up.
School bell gongs, like a call to prayer.

Remember

Remember
Let us remember today,
That each of us has a personal responsibility
To the preservation of our culture.
An imperative.
A purpose.
Each of us plays a role in the theatre of race relations.
It is up to you to decide,
How you will perform.
Remember that you were destined for another outcome.
That you made a choice to come here instead.
Remember that you are not alone.
Though you may be the only one—
Who looks like you
Or thinks like you
Or acts like you—
Though you may not share the same identity
As those around you,
Remember that you are not alone.
You are not the only one to be impacted by the conditions of our culture.
Your father wasn't the only one.
Your brother wasn't the only one.
Your son wasn't the only one.
Your husband wasn't the only one.
Your child's father wasn't the only one.
Your neighbor wasn't the only one.
You are not the only one.
You are the norm.
These are the conditions that we live under
One in three Black men will see the inside of a prison during their lifetime.
Which means the women in their lives will be impacted
Which means the families in their lives will be impacted
Which mean we all will be impacted.
Remember that.
So the cycle may be dismantled.
And so we may begin to ask
What role will you play in our solution?