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Jackie Taylor's THE HEALING
Black Ensemble Theater's production delivers a message that could change racism as we know it 
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  INSIDE the Black Ensemble Theater’s “Circle of Healing” during the presentation of THE HEALING, there is nothing but the truth––truth about horrible atrocities suffered by black people in the past, truth about current-day repression and degradation, and the truth about recognizing the devastating effects of racism before the healing process can begin. 
   As part of the theater’s “Season of Change” that focuses on a seemingly new level of injustice and bigotry in the country, THE HEALING, running through April 12, is a bold, sometimes emotional and uncomfortable journey that spotlights a history of racism in America and also honors those who have fought valiantly against discrimination and inequality––sometimes to their death. 
   Written and directed by Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble’s founder and CEO, the history lesson, led by guides Dwight Neal and Dawn Bless, hits hard early when the spirit of 14-year-old Emmett Till tells the graphic story of what happened to him in Money, Miss., at the hands of racists who took his life. Further, the ravages of hate are depicted in the stories of those who were lynched and in a list of young black men and teenagers killed in the past few years as a result of suspected police brutality.
   THE HEALING changes course a bit and also features the successes of inventors and other trailblazers who, despite the racism, made major 

and lasting contributions that changed America and the world. The George Washington Carvers, Garret Morgans, Lewis Latimers, Patricia Baths, Elijah McCoys, Sarah Boones and so many others, all exhibited courage that would not be denied as they thrived in the face of hate. 
   During the production, there are some magical moments in song, beginning with Colleen Perry’s rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Neal leading the audience in the Bob Marley classic "One Love." Other memorable moments by Jasmine Bomer, MJ Rawls, Vincent Jordan, Stewart Romeo, Blake Hawthorne, Blake Reasoner and Hannah Mary Simpson come in association with songs such as "Love's In Need of Love Today," "Rise Up," "Ball of Confusion," "What's Going On," "Everyday People," "Caravan of Love" and "A Change is Gonna Come."
   While THE HEALING is filled with compelling stories, it also reveals a number of current, unsettling facts such as the existence of 1,200 hate groups in the U.S.
   And that's one reason, Taylor says, this production is so necessary. "Racism is a very damaging disease . . . and many people are in denial. This performance is a wake-up call," she says. "It's an in-your-face, bold and difficult statement, but most importantly it is the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts, but it is necessary if we want to get to the root of the problem and fix it." 
   Let the healing begin.
––Walter Leavy
Dawn Bless and the cast of THE HEALING.
For more information and tickets, go to www.blackensemble.org or call 773/769-4451.
Photograph by Alan Davis