POST: 'A Small Oak Tree Runs Red' - They wasn’t ready

What it's about.

A theatrical remembrance of the true story of the 1918 lynching madness over a killed plantation owner, Hampton Smith. This specific story tells of the hardship and trauma of mother to be Mary, who was lynched, burned and had her baby cut open from her womb.

My experience.

*Trigger Warning* Wow, writing this I’m trying to be as sensitive as possible, but I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. It brings me back to a young women of color conference where a transgender woman spoke up on not seeing people that looked like her in executive positions.The facilitator thanked her because she knew it must be “hard” to speak up. She grabbed the mic and said, "This is my life I’m speaking up for. It’s not hard to speak up when I know I can see you today and be gone tomorrow because of hate. My life is hard and that’s the truth. Truth is it might be hard for you to listen." Wow. In utter awe, respect, and gratitude for her. This is how I feel. If it is hard for you to listen, imagine how hard it was for us to struggle, slave, and sweat blood...

The Billie Holiday Theatre, in my very own neighborhood, Bed-Stuy (Do or die). It was great to see theatre so close to home. Not only because it was a quick drive 😅, but I love seeing black representation close to home. When the play started, it was a little hard to follow the time lapses, but eventually I got it. I resonated deeply with this play because of the history of my roots. I saw the struggle Sidney had with a Huey P. Newton approach, the Dr. King approach Hayes took… and Mary… Mary was, pardon my french, straight up kissing white ass. Afraid of the master really. I mean I don’t blame her being a victim of physical and sexual assault, but it just wouldn’t be me.

I took Sidney’s side, kind of like the Killmonger in Black Panther… I honestly don’t think all his points were invalid. Maybe extreme, but then again slavery was extreme. Sidney said, they call me a BEAST, but these men kill for fun, beasts kill for survival.

God. Why you had to say the truth like that for them? They wasn’t ready.

We all know how the story goes.. A white school shooter has a mental illness and a troubled past, but God forbid a person of color has a toy gun...

“The Law was not made to protect us, it was made to contain us”… *SNAPS* Let’s talk Jim Crow. Let’s talk 13th amendment. Let’s talk about the War on Drugs… mmhmmm. There’s a legitimate reason why Kaepernick kneels because the anthem provides words of liberty and justice for all without actions to match.


The play was very intentional… I was confused as to why Mary was in white face paint. I assumed maybe because she was brainwashed into pleasing and obeying them that she was becoming just like them… I still don’t know if I was right. But in their after death resting place, Hayes comes back almost like Uncle Sam in a red jacket and all uppity, he then takes off the table cloth and ties it around him which is revealed to be an American flag on the other side, he proclaims freedom, while Sidney scares him away with the remembrance of his lynching.

The small red oak tree runs red with their blood… with their memories. To forget is to ignore and deprive disasters from reality. They needed to remember. They needed the audience to remember… this was barely a century ago. I walked out the theatre feeling so many feels but understanding. Wanting to not forget, wanting knowledge, and wanting to help…

“Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.”

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