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A look into the psychology of police violence

 February 16, 2023 at 3:00 PM PST

S1: The need for mobile crisis response teams grows.

S2: Get more proactive approach in stepping in when people are escalating to that point to avoid hospitalization is the best way to support people.

S1: I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. A look at the psychology behind police violence.

S3: This is a case of people engaging in violence that they thought was right and that they thought they would be praised for afterwards.

S1: Plus , the love story and black history behind the Julian Hotel. And find out about a new play at the diversionary theater called High Table. That's ahead on Midday Edition. If you are perhaps someone you know has experienced a mental health crisis in the last two years , it was likely San Diego County's mobile crisis response team who showed up. The teams offer specialized help to those dealing with a mental health crisis , which they're finding looks different for everyone , and the need for help is much greater than anticipated. Joining me now with more is Briana Lane , a program administrator for Mercy Telecare and Mary Woods , a regional director of operations. Thank you both for joining us today.

S2: Thank you so much for having us. We're so excited to be here and be able to keep sharing the awesome work that CRT is doing in the community. And on second thought.

S1: So glad to have you guys here. So , Mary , I'll start with you. It's been two years since this work started.


S2: Feedback from the community. We're asked frequently to do presentations , were asked frequently to. Outreach.

S4: Outreach.

S2: Different communities.

S4: With different backgrounds.

S2: And different needs. The folks that we serve directly , we've gotten very positive feedback in regards to satisfaction , so we're.

S4: Really proud of that.

S1: Brianna , I'm curious about the people at the center of these calls.

S2: And you can go from someone who is able to access resources or you have resources in the moment of a crisis. You can forget those things. You don't know where to find them. And so really , our team is to go out there and help support them. So sometimes it is us connecting them to maybe new resources that they didn't have before they didn't know was even available. A lot of times , though , we're really helping them tap back into resources that they already have. We really tried to make the effort to not take too big of a leap for them , so try to help them get connected back to their PCP. Maybe they haven't seen them in six months and it's time for a checkup or call that therapist that they haven't seen in a couple of years and get reconnected. So it really depends. But I think what we try to do is do a full kind of bio psychosocial assessment of the individual.


S2: We've had a really terrific feedback from law enforcement in general , and we meet with them on a regular basis so that we're partners and it's collaborative , but we've gotten the feedback that we are making a difference. And our hope is as we continue to grow and we will continue to grow , that difference will be even greater. So law enforcement can address the needs of the community that they're designed to address , and they're not really designed to address the mental health needs. And although they do their best , they have. Welcomed.

S4: Welcomed.

S2: Our input and our approach and everything we're doing. So that's been nice.


S2: We really , truly see everything. And I think that the moment we start to see a trend in pattern or we're getting a lot of calls for like one specific population , maybe emcee or t may not be doing the most efficient work , but so far we , we don't have a trend in pattern. We don't have high call volumes and certain symptoms or ages or things like that.


S2: You see up to us on TV all the time , the commercials. And , you know , that's a big change. I've been doing this kind of work for several decades and it's a big change. The educational push for people to really understand mental health , behavioral health issues and trauma informed care. You know , we've got a lot of vets coming back , got a lot of refugees. So I think the bigger systemic issue is just getting education out across all of our communities throughout the nation.

S1: And going forward.

S2: They they've been sort of visionaries in that way.

S4: They've put forward a very.

S2: Thoughtful plan for growth for this service particularly. Also other crisis services throughout the county and San Diego. Issues , price stabilization centers , crisis walk in assessment centers. So they've really done a good job creating sort of a web of support in the system of care. And I think they're also being forward thinking of the need for growth and the funding that needs to come with that. So they are trying to access different forms of funding through different kinds of grants and whatnot. So we work with the county frequently to get the funding in place and then meet all the needs of the grants and everything that they're requesting. So I think that being forward thinking , that's been a really good thing. And I see the vision and there is a very thoughtful plan for NCR to grow over the next several years.

S1: And Brianna , it kind of sounds like perhaps there was an idea of what type of mental health crisis calls units would be responding to.

S2: And I think when you think about historically someone in a mental health crisis as a society , we really think of people on the extreme edges and trying to take a more proactive approach and stepping in when people are escalating to that point to avoid hospitals. Hospitalization is the best way to support people. And the one of my favorite things about CRT that has been just such an amazing surprise is the amount of overwhelmingly positive response from people in the community that we're serving. We do a lot of calls where we're serving very young children who have diagnoses , and , you know , the parents just need extra support. And so we're able to help support families and just in ways that just feel like a new and fresh approach to support anyone having a crisis. So I just think , you know , the initial thought when people have of a behavioral health crisis is people on far edges of the extreme. I think CRT is helping with other providers in the community to back up that definition a little bit and be more encompassing to take into account people's individual experience of a crisis in the moment , because it could look very different if I'm having a crisis and I'm deeming it as a crisis , it may look very , very different than somebody else that how can we take my individual experience into account to get me the help I need I think is really critical for what we do.


S2: Because what they'll do is they'll ask you some very simple questions to help you determine if the person is having a behavioral health crisis and if it meets the threshold or meets the criteria , then they will dispatch us to go out. And I think it never hurts to call in , ask questions and get information. And if for some reason it's not an immediate referral ACL , the access and crisis line is going to give that person something else to help them in the moment , which will help the whole system of around that person that's experiencing the crisis.

S1: That is great information and a great service you all provide. I've been speaking with Briana Lane and Mary Woods of AMC , R.T. Telecare , which operates the county's mobile crisis response unit teams. Thank you both for taking time to talk with us today. And thanks for the work you do.

S2: Yeah , thank you so much for having us. It's been great. Yeah , Thank you. We're happy to do it.

S1: Just this morning , a Shreveport , Louisiana , police officer was arrested in the fatal shooting of Alonzo Bagley , who was unarmed. Last month , five officers were charged in the beating death of Tyree Nichols. And just yesterday , two sheriff's deputies who responded to that scene were suspended. The fallout from these cases and countless others highlights police brutality. To help us understand what gives rise to police violence and what can be done to stop it is to try. A psychologist and assistant professor of management at UC San Diego's Rady School of Management and co-author of the book Virtuous Violence. Welcome back to Midday Edition.

S3: Great to be here.


S3: But that's not actually how we position them culturally. Instead , officers oftentimes see themselves as authorities who have power over civilians and whose orders need to be obeyed. And in that kind of hierarchical system , disobedience , disrespect or any sort of threat of harm to the officer is is the worst violation. And , you know , even worse than the actual crimes that they're supposed to be policing. And when you have that kind of situation , then the potential for violence is very high.

S1: And I want to dig into that a bit more. But let's take a step back. Your work looks at violence in a broader sense and the factors that often lead to it.

S3: Their sense of morality seems to have gone awry or something like that. Most of my work argues the opposite , that actually most of the violence we see occurs when people are hurting others because they think it's the right thing to do , because they think they are obligated to do it , because they think that that behavior is morally praiseworthy and virtuous. And so the Nichols case is a really good example where I think we should remember that this isn't the case of just a few officers. There are the immediate officers who are involved in the beating , but there were several other officers and personnel who showed up on scene who did nothing. And the officers were taking pictures and sending them to their acquaintances. So presumably they felt that those people would also approve of what was going on. So this isn't a case of people engaging in violence that they knew was wrong , but they wanted to do anyway. This is a case of people engaging in violence that they thought was right and that they thought they would be praised for afterwards. Hmm.

S1: Hmm. You know , these two officers who were suspended yesterday are not being accused of participating in the actual beating of Nichols. But how does inaction or complicity play a role in actual violence ? Can you talk about the psychology behind that ? Yes.

S3: So we know from many years of data that there is a hesitance sometimes for people to get involved. And I think that is especially true in a context like policing , both on the part of civilians , but both on the part of fellow officers. So in this kind of system , officers are often taught not to really question each other and to trust each other's judgment , because that's what's going to keep you alive and that's what's going to keep you safe. And so the training doesn't really allow for other officers to show up on scene and interfere , even if that's what they wanted to do. And if they did interfere , that and especially if it was interference with a superior ranking officer , then that would be a real problem for them , because the hierarchy requires that they follow orders and that they respect the violent actions of those above them. But as I said , if the culture itself thinks that that violence is appropriate , then they may show up on scene and do nothing because they don't actually think that there's anything wrong with this violence necessarily.

S1: And , you know , much of this violence is perpetrated against black people.

S3: And the image of who that enemy is often is a minority black male. And the Nichols case is usually. As it shows us that one proposed reform , which is diversifying the police , isn't going to solve the problem on its own. In the Nichols case , many of the officers were black. But the data shows that diversifying the police does mitigate these problems somewhat. So to the extent that civilians are being policed by non-white officers , the likelihood of police use of force tends to be lower. But all officers , regardless of race , do use force against black civilians more than non-black civilians.


S3: Then there is data to suggest that the origins of policing really came out of the end of slavery and a need to police a black population and segregate those populations from white populations. We also know psychologically that white officers , white people especially , are going to be more likely to perceive black people as older than they are , as more mature than they are as more capable of physical violence than they are , and that these effects are especially true when perceiving black men. Right.

S1: Right.

S3: There is this kind of bias called subtraction , neglect , where if we want to improve something , we think that we need to add to it somehow. So if we want to improve policing , then somehow we need to provide officers with more resources , more funding , more training , when in actuality sometimes the answer is less , more obvious or more logical is the exact opposite , which is if you want to reduce the number of violent police encounters , then we should probably be reducing the number of police civilian encounters in general. So we should give police fewer responsibilities. The Nichols case again exemplifies this. Nichols was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. It's not clear why we should have a system where police who are trained and hand in combat and who are carrying guns are carrying out routine traffic stops. If that situation doesn't exist , then this killing doesn't happen. I think we also need to break up these kinds of scorpion units , which is what they did in that case. These are of hotspot policing units where officers are tasked specifically with engaging in violence against civilians with the idea that that's what they're going to do , but they're going to bring that mentality into any encounter that they go into motivation early. Like I said , we have this kind of culture where officers aren't seeing themselves as civil servants. They're seeing themselves as authorities. We have to break that culture down. There have to be real punishments. There has to be real accountability. There has to be transparency. Without those things , then we have these sorts of problems where nobody benefits. And then finally , there's been some exciting work cognitively. So people are starting to take techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy and apply them into police training. So here the idea is to get officers to be more reflective about their encounters. This isn't mean slowing down your thinking in ways that might be dangerous for the officer. Instead is telling officers , Hey , in the time that you have in this situation , we want you to think more about potential alternative hypotheses instead of just thinking about the worst case scenario. And when you do that , officers are less likely to engage in force , it seems like.

S1: Now , I've been speaking with Paige Rye , who is a psychologist and professor at UC San Diego's Rady School of Management and co-author of the book Virtuous Violence. Taylor , thank you so much for joining us today.

S3: Thank you , Jed.

S1: You're listening to KPBS midday Edition. I'm Jade Hyneman. While Valentine's Day may be over , one local hotel's love story with San Diego endures. KPBS reporter Alex Win takes us to a beloved hotel in Julian with deep roots in black history.

S5: To everyday tourists. It's a charming bed and breakfast. The only thing that brings to light its history is a bronze plaque in front of the hotel. It reads Hotel Robinson , 1897 , built for Albert Robinson and wife Margaret on the site of the restaurant. Bakery. It's the sole surviving Julian Mining era hotel.

S6: Is not only the one of the oldest hotels owned by African-Americans , but it's also a national site , historical site.

S5: Larry Malone is a local historian and wrote a book about black pioneers in San Diego from the 1880s to the 1920s.

S6: You know , a lot of people were really surprised that Julian had that rich history of African American history in Julian.

S5: And part of that history started with a love story , says Chuck Ambers , the curator of the African Diaspora Museum and Research Center.

S6: There's a love relationship between that hotel and Julian. Just like there was the love relationship between Albert and Margaret , he says.

S5: Julian was a sleepy little town founded by former Confederate soldiers before Gold was discovered there.

S6: It was a little pulled down city until Fred Coleman , part of the gold rush up in Sacramento , followed the geological formations down. California , followed the San Diego River in Mission Valley , back up to its source , hoping that they would find gold just like up in the Sacramento area. And he did.

S5: That was 1869 and started the first and only gold rush in San Diego. The gold rush brought many black people to Julian because of the opportunities there.

S6: Yeah , they kind of gravitated towards that.

S5: Among them was Albert Robinson , who.

S6: Shows up here in Julian in 1880 on the census record.

S5: That's David Lewis. His family has lived in Julian for four generations. He's the town historian.

S6: Albert , I'm assuming , was enslaved wherever he was living at the time. He supposedly came here with a man named Levi Chase.

S5: His wife , Margaret , came to Julian. Later.

S6: She marries Albert in 1886. And so that is when I believe they started a bakery and a restaurant business. I believe here on this site. And they ran that from 1886 until 1902 , when when they built this hotel with fortunes for them , their property , that little restaurant was right across the street from the city hall where the Butterfield stage lie. Coming from Arizona. Right , Travelers.

S5: The town hall was also the social hub of Julian.

S6: They also held dances there. And these dances could last all night. And according to what I've read , that the hotel provided meals for those dances at night.

S5: Albert died in 1915 , and Margaret ran the hotel by herself into 1921 when she sold it for 1500 dollars. Much of the hotel is still as it was when the Robinsons ran it. There's a lot of history in this hotel. Dignitaries and politicians stayed there , including us Grand Jr , the son of President Ulysses Grant , who went on to build the US Grand Hotel in downtown San Diego. For Lewis , it's part of his history and the history of Julian.

S6: My great uncle who used to come here with his family when he was little , and when they get to the front door would come out and pick him up and put him on his shoulders and walk him on into the hotel. And my uncle says , I felt like I was ten feet tall.

S5: Alexander Wynn keeps news.

S1: Last week , the NFL announced the nine new members that will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2023. And among them is a San Diego football legend known for his high flying offenses like Chargers and San Diego State. Aztecs coach Don Coryell will be enshrined into football immortality in August. Longtime Chargers reporter and contributor to Forbes Jay Parrish spoke with Midday Edition producer Andrew Bracken about how Coryell changed the way football is played today.

S7: So when you hear the name Don Coryell , one word that seems to come up a lot is innovator.

S4: Obviously , the offensive side of the ball with his love of throwing , throwing the football and putting the football in the air and testing the defense and going where no other coach had ever gone before. I mean , he also was a big eye formation , the running game staple at USC. And he leaned on that so much before he turned to a mad scientist with the throwing the ball , if you will. Then you look defensively with with Don , you know , using four or five receivers at a time. That completely changed the complexion of defenses. They had to add another defensive back. There was usually just four defensive backs and two cornerbacks. Now there are five and it's called the nickel package. And then they had to put another one in and it was the dime package. And so this gentleman just had his fingerprints , obviously on the offensive side , but defensively as well. And if you're going to talk about those two things , you have to talk about coaching. Now , you have to prepare for all this. So I can think of few other gentlemen in the NFL who have had such an impact on offense , defense and coaching. And oh , yes , it's in the entertainment business. Those teams were certainly entertaining. So he gets a start there as well , Andrew.

S7: And , you know , you talked about how he changed the offense. He's probably most famous for the air Coryell offense the Charger teams became known for.

S4: It ran the ball and then the other guy ran the ball and then they ran the ball a little bit more. Coach Coryell came in and said , you know , this is nonsense. Let's throw the ball. I've got Dan Fouts here. I've got all these great write receivers. You know , where does it say you have to run the ball the first two downs and then be third and long and be forced to throw it when the other team knows you're going to throw it. Why not throw it on first down , second down. So what he did , he wanted the defense Sanju to have to defend every inch of the field vertically with two deep threats at all time and horizontally as well. By throwing to the running backs in the tight end and transforming the game in the position that Kellen Winslow is tied in by using him. So know , while other people were kind of stuck in this time machine because they weren't bold enough , they weren't comfortable enough in their own ideas and they weren't brash and they they didn't have the guts that Don Coryell did. And he said , Look , we're going to try to win win at this way and let's see what's happened. I think it should be noted , too , Andrew , in 1978 , it's called the Mel Blanc rule. But after that , defenders could only hit you five yards off the line of scrimmage so you could wrestle with the guy a little bit and throw off his timing a little , little bit. You could do that all the way down the field before 78. So with that new rule down , Coryell took advantage of it. If they can only muscle my guy at the line of scrimmage , that's going to give him free rein down the field.

S7: And Corales , his San Diego roots , actually ran deeper than those seventies and eighties charger teams. You know , he's famous for he was also the head coach for San Diego State's football team for 12 years and led to some of their most successful seasons.

S4: They hired Don Coryell in 1961. They were seven two and one immediately switched the persona switch , the reputation of San Diego football. And he did it early on Iran , but in the mid sixties had a quarterback by the name of Don Horn , who was a sensational quarterback. So they started throwing the ball more and he threw it more and more. And you got to remember , San Diego State was , for lack of a better term. It was designed as a small college school. They weren't division one. So they couldn't really run the ball with these big athletes because all those big athletes were going to be in UCLA. So so , Don , say , look , we can't beat those guys playing conventional football. Let's go there , because we don't have the we don't have the horses to pull the cart , if you will. We don't have the athletes. What if we try to out coach him ? What if we try to out schema ? What if we try to show them a brand of football that they've seldom seen , seldom practiced against and certainly aren't used to ? So he switched to the throw in the football round. It was Air Coryell at 1.0 , if you would , before he came to the Chargers. Immediately the Aztecs start winning. They had three undefeated seasons. At one time , they had a 25 game winning streak that ended in 1967. But you got to remember , they were averaging 40,000 people a game. They were averaging more than the San Diego Chargers at that time , which just shows you the impact that that Don had at the local level first. And then certainly with the Chargers. I mean , it was entertaining. It was fun. It was the place to be all because of that crazy mad scientist Don Coryell.

S7: For many in the football world , the news of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame , which will happen later this year , it's a little overdue , isn't it ? Absolutely.

S4: You know , a six time finalist and people that know football know of his contributions , know it is innovative ways. And and really , that's not me talking early talk to any football guy who will say that but just turn on the TV. Every game has a little snippet of Don Kariya. All the teams throw the ball. Now , all the teams don't like to run it and they rather pass the ball. I mean , this is all Don Coryell. So like , it's a it's almost a relief that he's in more than a celebration , which is kind of sad. I mean , his works spoke for itself. So now that he's finally in , it's kind of everybody just exhaled. Dan Fouts says , I'm not in the Hall of Fame without Don Coryell. So do Kellen Winslow. So does Charlie Joiner. I mean , he put them in the Hall of Fame. And for those three gentlemen to be in it without their mentor in it , it really stung them. So the joy that I know his family feels and all the people associated him , his players are ecstatic for him because not only was Darden crazy with the offense , he was a little bit of a quirky do it anyway , but he was kind of like this , this quirky , mad scientist. Like one time he pulled up with trash cans in his in his trunk because he forgot to put them on the curb when he left his home that day. You know , he just he would do wild stuff that would that would endear him to his players for sure.

S7: It's great , great stories there. You know , you mentioned his family. He did pass away almost 13 years ago.

S4: I mean , he was so instrumental in getting so many other people that gold jacket and to be enshrined in Canton , Ohio , that for for him not to get at it , it didn't really seem like a Hall of fame without Don Coryell in it you know , going to be and now his family and his friends that they can rejoice. But I know there's that tinge of sadness that that Don couldn't get up there and give one of his goofy speeches and invite everybody over for wine afterwards.

S7: And I'm curious if there's , you know , a particular game or a play that comes to mind when you hear the name Don Coryell.

S4: The great epic playoff game in Miami in 80 , 81 season when , you know , they came back and won in overtime. So many great victories. But almost when you bring up their great victories , you be reminded of the heartache and you ask why it's taken so long. For Don to be in the Hall of Fame is because he didn't reach a Super Bowl. He didn't win a Super Bowl. And that's kind of the gold standard , if you will , in the NFL. But , you know , I just think of those playoff games and how the the Chargers were never out of a game and they were entertaining. And that's what made going to Charger games , you know , so much fun. So , you know five times they led the league in total off 66 times in passing yards , three times in scoring. So it's got to be a high scoring game. And and I always look back at that that overtime win in Miami against the Dolphins. You know they would lose the next week in the freezer bowl against the Cincinnati Bengals. You know they had two shots at the Super Bowl. They lost both AFC conference title games were down. So that that held them back a little bit. But to to have that eclipse , all those contributions as it was , is a bad mark that the NFL is finally set right.

S7: And finally , another major figure in Chargers history , former general manager Bobby Bethel , recently passed away. I wonder if you could share a few words about his legacy to the Chargers. I know you had a personal connection to him.

S4: Yeah , I was lucky in that Bobby Bethel was exceptionally accessible , friendly , and that took a rookie beat writer me under his wing a little bit. I lived in Cardiff , he lived in Leucadia , and we would carpool most mornings together , which was a big high cotton for a guy who'd never covered a team. And here's a guy whose would eventually have his fingerprint on seven Super Bowl teams with Miami and Washington Redskins and the Chargers. So he came home in 1990 after a stellar career with the Redskins first pick ever was the Great Junior Sale at Oceanside , and he helped the Chargers to their lone Super Bowl. He was there ten seasons. And , you know , the charges were very good for a long time. And and Bobby Bethune showed up and he gave pizzazz and he gave him a touch of class and he gave game winning football , which was really rare around here. So I want to say Bobby was a great NFL man and he was but he was also a San Diego perfect San Diego dude. He loved to surf. He loved to be engaging. He wore smiles often as the sun was out and one of the all time greats. And this last couple of weeks , some mixed emotions for for Charger followers. Charger fans , you know , raise a glass both for Don Coryell and the great Bobby brother.

S1: That was Coast News columnist and Forbes contributor Jay Perry speaking with Midday Edition producer Andrew Bracken. You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. The High Table is a 2020 play by British playwright Timi Wilkie , and Diversionary Theatre in San Diego will present its American premiere this month. The play follows an engaged LGBTQ couple , Tara and Leah , who face rejection from Tara's Nigerian parents while their ancestors suspended in the stars , are deciding on the fate of the wedding. KPBS arts producer Julia Dixon Evans spoke with director Nikki Coker JR and actor Andrea Agusto. Here's their conversation.

S2: Andrea , let's start with you. Can you tell us a little bit about this play ? The High Table focuses on Tara and Leah. Tara is engaged to Leah. They're about to get married. They're super excited. And then comes , of course , meeting the parents , which as we know , can go one of a few ways. Meanwhile , as she introduces her fiancee to her parents , her ancestors are watching and deciding if they should bless this wedding in this union. It's a lot of fun , but there's also a lot of like really tender , heartfelt moments. There are moments that are going to make you smile. Moments are going to make you think and moments that are just going to , like , really make you smile just because there's so much love in this particular piece. There's love between the family members , even though they show it maybe differently. It's all about understanding and trying to learn each other's love languages and trying to figure out why people are doing things the way that they are doing them. Because if they're doing it from a place of love , you think that might be good. But you also have to understand , when you love somebody , you also have to continue to put their needs in mind as well. And can you explain the title for us ? The high Table refers to a Nigerian wedding tradition where the newlyweds and their family , such as their parents , are seated on a seated on a at a table that's typically on a stage or a raised platform. So it's slightly elevated or higher than the rest of the table And me.

S4: So your ancestors are great grandparents or grandparents or parents who passed on. Never used the word die. You know , they passed on to the next realm. And in that next realm , you depend on your ancestors to intervene for you with the dates and the Almighty.

S5: The Creator.

S4: And the Supreme being , and it's not a he or she. So in that sense and in that that play carries a lot of weight and actually explores historical context and the existence of the people pre invasion , so to speak.

S2: Andrea , can you tell us a little bit about how the ancestors are involved with your character and what is Tara's relationship with them ? The ancestors are summoned as I bring my fiancee over and they are trying to divine and understand and hear things , but they also complain that they can't hear as well as they used to. They can't hear Earth or as it is referred to on the show as well as they used to , because it used to be that the descendants used to call upon the dead and call upon their ancestors. And when they would do that , they would seek their counsel , seek their guidance and seek their support. Now , we're at a place , you know , in the 2020s where we're not talking to our ancestors. We're not going into that connection with them. So because of that , they can't really understand what's going on. And they are guessing at first to try to figure out what's happening with me and my fiancee when they finally find out. Then it becomes a struggle between the ancestors. But they are still trying to intervene on her behalf and try to do what they think is best for her. I mean , that's what family does. And they don't always talk directly to her because , again , very similar to family. They try to do what's best for you without necessarily having to involve you in their decisions , which I also find very interesting. And so in addition to this cultural , this ancestral context , I imagine that LGBTQ love is sometimes hard to reconcile by an older generation with traditional values.

S4: The father's generation is one that's essentially been colonized. He's a doctor who lives in San Diego. He belongs to a church community. Of course , everybody goes in those prayer communities to the Book of Leviticus and talks about how , you know , it's forbidden. It's a taboo. It. Abomination , etc. , etc.. So the characters have to wrestle with that and they have to wrestle with that in the context of I want the best for my child and wanting the best for my child. I have to face this conflict , but it's done in a very lighthearted comic way. People listen more and hear more to laughter and being able to lighten serious situations and go home and actually really think about what they've just watched.

S2: And the younger generation , they're still drawn to their culture. These these characters still celebrate their culture despite the elders rejecting them. And they still love their families and those elders. Andrea , can you talk a little bit about that and how these characters find balance when it comes to like any kind of , you know , cultural journey ? It starts by realizing your disconnection , and I think that ends up happening for specifically for Tara in the play because of something that happened. And she has to examine her connection not only just to her culture , but like , what does that really mean as far as terms of her family ? How much has she been kept from it ? How much has been hidden away because of either fear or shame and because she does not want to live in a place of fear or shame ? She gets to the point where she wants to reconnect and reaches out to her ancestors and calls upon them and asks them to intervene. And that's kind of , you know , similar to a lot of people. Something will happen in our lives that will force us to re-evaluate our morals , our desires , our dreams and our hopes. And we've got , you know , kind of a defining life , defining person , defining decision to make. Andrea , I wanted to ask you , what drew you to the script and in particular this role ? When I read this script , I cried. I could not put it down. I devoured it in one night and I had to stop and reevaluate What is it that is doing this to me ? Why am I feeling this way ? And I realized it's because I feel like in my own personal life , maybe I also am looking to reconnect with ancestry in some type of way. I've actually started doing my own genealogy and studying my own family tree to find out even more about my particular family and my family's history and to see it done in this way where everything connects and culminates for this person , for Tara , I think is beautiful. And I think it also inspires me and gives me hope that I will be able to find these connections that I am myself looking for. And I think that another part of it is the fact that there's queer ancestry mentioned in this piece , and it's something that we don't hear about , especially being black , especially being Afro-Latina. You don't hear a lot about that kind of ancestry within your family. A lot of times the only people that I've known , especially now as an adult , are the people in my generation , in my age range. But we don't. And and I know that they existed , but that history is just not recorded or it's just not talked about. And it talk about something that is that talked about the love that dare not say its name. I remember it being called growing up. It's a beautiful thing. That is a way to live loudly. It is a way to live bravely and it is a way to make sure that your connection to your culture and your ancestry is authentic because you are living in your fullest self.

S4: And I would say , you know , on the first night actually of reading the first draft , I just thought , whoa , this is this is a loaded script. And I most definitely would do , you know , any and everything to want to work on this script and on this production. On another level , I have been a very strong critic and advocate against the brutalization , the senseless arrests of LGBTQ people in Africa. There's so much hate around the world. And I mean , if people find love where they find love , who are we to basically tell people who they are to love and why they're to love ? And , you know , we should just be happy that people are happy. And that really touches a nerve because it makes people really think again and allows people to explore the damage that colonization and miseducation and this religion's that have come from foreign lands have imposed on a culture and a custom that was otherwise just , you know , didn't have any of this hierarchy. So any kind of sexual discrimination assigned to it. This is really groundbreaking.

S1: That was director Nikki Coker and actor Andrea Augusto speaking with KPBS arts producer Julia Dixon Evans. The play opens February 18th and runs through March 5th at Diversionary Theatre.

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