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Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) presents The Brothers Size

CHICAGO CRUSADER — Currently playing its first return to the stage since its celebrated Chicago premiere, Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) presents The Brothers Size by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney (Academy Award Moonlight, co-creator of MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT) and directed by acclaimed Chicago director Monty Cole. Both shows in SYA’s 2019/20 Season explore the question, “How do you navigate family history while trying to write your own?”

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The Brothers Size (Photos by: Michael Brosilow)

By The Chicago Crusader

Currently playing its first return to the stage since its celebrated Chicago premiere, Steppenwolf for Young Adults (SYA) presents The Brothers Size by ensemble member Tarell Alvin McCraney (Academy Award Moonlight, co-creator of MS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT) and directed by acclaimed Chicago director Monty Cole. Both shows in SYA’s 2019/20 Season explore the question, “How do you navigate family history while trying to write your own?”

Ogun Size is hardworking and heartbroken. Oshoosi Size is recently returned home from prison and trying to be anywhere but. In this fierce and honest look at the complex bonds of brotherhood, McCraney weaves together poetry, music and Yoruba mythology to magnify the tug-of-war between freedom and the need to belong somewhere, to something, to someone.

Public performances of The Brothers Size are now playing through Saturday, October 19, 2019 in the Downstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted St); Single tickets ($20-$30) are now on sale through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Weekday performances are reserved for school groups; more than 15,000 Chicago Public School students will experience Steppenwolf Education programming during the 2019/2020 season. Interested in bringing a school group? More info at steppenwolf.org/education.

Director Monty Cole shares, “The Brothers Size has always been one of my favorite plays. I’m in love with its vulnerable language about one’s duty to their family, culture, nation — and their own freedom. When I was in high school, I remember being so excited to go to SYA productions. It’s an honor to bring this play back to the Steppenwolf stage for young adults to see themselves reflected.”

Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly Performance
Steppenwolf is pleased to present a Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performance for The Brothers Size on Saturday, October 19, at 3 p.m. Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performances feature a relaxed performance environment and minor adjustments to sensory effects such as lighting and sound cues. House lights will be left up at a low level, and it’s okay for audience members to make noise, move, and leave the theater. Social narratives and character guides will be shared in advance of the guests’ visit, and a quiet area will be designated in a section of the lobby. For more information, please email access@steppenwolf.org.

About the Playwright
Tarell Alvin McCraney is an acclaimed playwright and screenwriter and has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 2010. His script In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue is the basis for the Oscar-winning film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. He also wrote the film High Flying Bird which recently premiered on Netflix directed by Steven Soderbergh.  McCraney’s plays include The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy, Choir Boy, Head of PassesMS. BLAKK FOR PRESIDENT and WIG OUT!. McCraney is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, the Evening Standard Award, the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham Campbell Award, and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He is currently Chair of Playwriting at Yale School of Drama; an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Chicago; and a member of Teo Castellanos/D-Projects. McCraney is currently working on an original scripted TV series, David Makes Man, for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, produced by Michael B. Jordan and Page Fright Productions.

About the Director

Monty Cole recently directed Kiss by Guillermo Calderon at the Haven Theatre Company, and has directed productions, readings and workshops for Goodman Theatre, Center Theatre Group, The Alley Theatre, The Court Theatre, Victory Gardens, American Theatre Company, The Gift Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Oracle Productions, California Institute of the Arts and others. Cole directed the critically acclaimed and Jeff Award-winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions and Hamlet at The Gift Theatre. Monty is currently adapting John Howard Griffin’s classic memoir Black Like Me for the stage and collaborating with choreographer Breon Arzell at the Center for New Performance on a new iteration of In Dahomey, the first Black Broadway musical.

Performance & Ticket Info
There are 10 public performances of The Brothers Size: Friday, October 4 at 7:30 p.m; Saturday, October 5 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, October 6 at 3 p.m.; Friday, October 11, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 12, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Friday, October 18, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 19, at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. *The October 19 at 3 p.m. performance will be a Relaxed/Sensory-Friendly performance. Weekday performances are reserved for school groups. To bring a school group or learn more about Steppenwolf’s robust education offerings visit steppenwolf.org/education.

The Scene 
Curated by Steppenwolf’s own Young Adult Council, this is an exclusive opportunity for teens to score a cheap ticket to a Steppenwolf production, meet the artists involved with the play and connect with like-minded teens. The Council’s fall scene event around The Brothers Size is upcoming on Saturday, October 12, at 3 p.m. Teens can purchase a $5 ticket by calling (312) 335-1650 and using code YACSCENE.

Plan Your Visit 
Steppenwolf is located at 1650 N. Halsted St. near all forms of public transportation, bike racks and Divvy bike stands. The parking facility ($15 or $17, cash or card) is located just south of our theater at 1624 N. Halsted St. Valet parking service ($15 cash) is available directly in front of the main entrance starting at 5 p.m. on weeknights, 1 p.m. on weekends and at 12 noon before Wednesday matinees. Limited street and lot parking are also available. For last minute questions and concerns, patrons can call the Steppenwolf Parking Hotline at 312.335.1774.

Watch a video of Tarell Alvin McCraney discussing The Brothers Size >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjJBFx-Rivk

This article originally appeared in The Chicago Crusader.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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