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Black Theatre Artists Group Picture at Opening Night of Choir Boy on Broadway


Lean in… 366 days, not just 31!

And we are off!! Many of us are ripping and running at the start of 2020, seeking to catapult ourselves into the new decade. But many are also running away from the echoing memories of the past that give birth to regret and shame. We all want to make a significant shift in this NEW DECADE: coined to bring us into an alignment of 20/20 vision and clarity. January is the month to start again, where for 31 days seeds for the new year are sown. A time when self-reflection and aspirational visions become the mirror that we try to amplify and manifest. 

In the first month of the year, our imagination has its most powerful opportunity to help us grow beyond the limits of what we know. It’s in this month that we create vision sessions, we cast spells of affirmation, we seek to look at 366 days as stepping stones to manifest our dreams. However, have we really cleared the deck for this manifestation? Do we understand what growth really requires?

Drew has asked me to do something of great honor– to write a love note to this community about leaning into growth. To take time to think about the seeds I want to be sown for this community that I love; that I have personally invested so much time and energy in helping to evolve and empower. I think he is hoping I will provide us a salve of love to possibly be the foundation we root our existence in this year. So with this space, I hope to do justice to the honor of this request, to download my felt wisdom into words. 

To acquire the space of growth, this year has already shown me that the skeletons buried deep within my closet, deep within the crevices of my psyche, have to be purged in order to honor my vision for the future. This year, a year christened with the pregnant possibility of providing 20/20 clarity, is the year to lean into the concept of divine vision. To manifest this vision will require the discomfort of our dreams turning into flesh, the discomfort of our ambition raising our shine, the discomfort of our grace to allow ourselves the space to shift from surviving to thriving. I am asking us to change the lemons into lemonade and lean into our growing edge of becoming not just the humans we have sought to be externally yet honoring our internal power, wisdom, and intuition within. This is the year we can build muscle by first tearing the tissues that will eventually strengthen the core. We should really be sore this year and enjoy that good pain which serves as a reminder that we are ALIVE and growing.

I also know we must, as my pastor said so beautifully, “build an altar of testimonies that we walk past every day” to remind us of the victories we have lived through. And what an alter this community can assemble! What is love if not the way this community rallied to fortify the vulnerability shared in Donja Love’s work? Or the way the community shared their grief, memory, and love of Christine Jean Chambers? Or any time we show up to celebrate someone’s Broadway debut on a show as old as Lion King or as fresh as A Soldier’s Play? The way we champion each other is a miracle; it is a testimony that we are bigger than our individual parts, or followers we have on social media, or positions we helm. And we will need to lean into that found love to get through these unknown days. We will need a flame to guide us. You are the keeper of that flame. This year will test its resilience and I am asking that you all lean into the needs she requires so we can have a lighthouse to guide us in the midst of the fog.  

Together through individual acts of tending to our own needs, WE collectively transform. So what dreams have you let go rotten? What ideas are waiting to be birthed by your courage? If you can allow yourself to lean into the growth,  if you can allow your love testimony to guide your next footsteps as we head into the days of new beginning laden with discomfort, then we the children of ancestral wisdom, we the creators, the producers, the manifestors, the conjurers, the truth-tellers, can change, pivot and manifest the vision of a life we want now! Yet we must first lean into growth required.

Written By

Jonathan McCrory is an Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre since 2012. He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company.


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