At Ithaca College I found plenty of students of the “Brownsville Breed”… One young Latina was my liaison and the head of the schools PODER Organization.
PODER translated means “Can”, “able to”, “the Power”, “the competence”…All these words exactly right for the spirit I find within the Brownsville Breed.
I can look back at many of my hundreds of performances and think “that one will live in me forever”…
New York City’s Laguardia High School of the Performing Arts…started with the head of the Drama departments introduction in which she told her students that I was proof that “they” “CAN” write, perform, and produce on their own. It was in a half round with stadium seating raked up over 100 feet above that stage that the teens roared in a standing ovation, not for me, so much as for the faith that I had instilled in them.
BayShore Long Island’s High School Awareness Weekend…I was the ice breaker…a performance that marked the beginning of a weekend when students stay in school, sleeping in sleeping bags for the entire weekend, in a therapeutic setting, where they can say anything…and trust that nothing will leave the room. Brownsville was the right show and at the right time letting them know that whether it stayed in the room or not, nothing should be the barrier between them and their success.
Brooklyn’s North Shore Charter Believe School, when for the first time I was in an auditorium of mostly latino teens…Before the show started the students sang to the pre show Spanish music…it gave me chills, and made me hope that my every move shook them with the responsibility they have to themselves and to the future of Latinos.
At Ithaca the small stage did not allow for me to be in the wings or backstage…and so I sat in the audience waiting with them for the show to start…Watching the 90 second video that introduces Brownsville Bred as an audience member…I am usually backstage at this time dancing to the music, channelling its flow inside of me with exaggerated salsa moves that help me to warm my hips and ready my body to the intense workout its about to have…taking the last taste of a throat lozenge, and telling myself “REPRESENT, REPRESENT!”…this time I was just watching…When I rose from my chair it seemed the perfect way to start every show from then on…because I am one of them and they are one of me.
And We are all people that “CAN”, “Have the power”, “the Competence”, “The Poder”…When I ask the question “Are you of the Brownsville Breed?” I know the answer…The answer is Yes and in the asking…it is merely a reminder to accept that this power is within you, and within all of us…and that no one and no circumstance can ever take it away.