Ann-Bernice Thomas on Sound of the Beast.
By Ann-Bernice Thomas / March 1, 2019
Utilizing spoken word, hip-hop, and storytelling, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard speaks truth to power with her profound and honest exploration of police brutality in black and brown communities.
Police violence is an endlessly important topic in activism and human rights across the globe. The police are a tool of the state, and they use their power to uphold martial law. White supremacy is the law, and black and brown bodies are the disposable income of the business of the school-to-prison pipeline.
Sound of the Beast explores the relationship between the black person and the police, and the relationship of fear that exists between us. From a young age, black parents teach their children how to respond when approached by the police. The police are trained to treat and see black children as adults, and we are expected to react and act as such. We are assumed guilty before human, and are trained to treat every interaction with the police like it could be our last. Here in Victoria, I’ve been stopped by the police multiple times. When I was with a white person, the white police officer spoke to me and only me, was antagonistic in nature, and assumed my name was “Shaniqua.” I always leave these encounters shaken and enraged, and Sound of the Beast delves into the fear around black rage, in relation to white fragility, justification of death, and how it is the energy of all revolution.
As an activist myself, I found this show honest, and heartwarming in a way I had never expected to see on stage. I can’t wait to experience it! These past few months I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. White fear of the black and brown body. Of retribution. Our fear of the power of the white supremacist state. Of the police. Of the systems in place and how so many fear it will never change. I’ve been thinking about how my parents moved to Canada instead of the United States in 2004, in an early attempt to save my brothers’ lives. Police violence is domestic terrorism designed by the state, and we have no choice but to keep protesting in order to make change.
Donna-Michelle also touches on the relationship between politicians and activism, and how they try to use these lives lost to further their agenda, without actually creating any change. This tactic is pervasive in every aspect of our capitalist culture, especially in fashion and social media.
Police brutality is a microcosmic example of what happens when fear, white supremacy, and capitalism coincide, and Sound of the Beast takes us on a deeply personal ride inside the system that is designed to thrive off our lost lives.