One man’s story of navigating life when surviving and thriving are at war with each other. A reflection on racism, poverty, and carceral systems which ignore humanity.

Brandon Wainright preparing to deliver his monologue at the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice Conference, 2019. ©Rick Villarreal

At birth, I was named Brandon Marlow Wainright. That is the name my mother used, as well as the teachers at school. On the street, my name is Dub, D to the U-B, or you can call me ‘Young Black King’. But on a serious note, let me tell you that 90% of people from my hood are considered failures. And I’m supposed to act like I can’t be part of the 10% because of the way you think of me and because of the choices I’ve made to survive the challenges I faced.

I have a young mother, young…

A man’s story of fighting to defend himself in prison, and a call for accountability from those who sent him to a place of physical and psychological violence.

Dereck Bell delivering his monologue at Motus Theater MLK Jr. Day Performance, 2021. ©Michael Ensminger

I didn’t know what led me there. It was 2am and I was in my car parked across from the prison. I didn’t know I was driving to the prison until I actually arrived and I didn’t know I was praying until I finally heard my own words, repeating over and over: “Stay solid. Stay solid.”

I’ve been out of prison for over 5 years. But it is easy to go back there in so many ways. I am not going back. …

The story of a young man trapped in what he experiences as the U.S. colosseum of racist justice and economic games of exploitation.

Astro Allison delivering his monologue at Motus Theater’s MLK Jr. Day performance, 2020 ©Michael Ensminger

The criminal justice system doesn’t make sense to Black people. And if White people would think about it, outside of a lens of racist justification that says it’s normal for one out of three Black men to end up going to prison, they wouldn’t understand it either.

Black people work hard, too often at low paying jobs, only to be chased and locked up like exotic beasts. Then we get told: “You’re useless, you’re worthless.” The system actually does that to us.

The criminal justice system operates without empathy. They can judge us like they want to. They can enslave…

The criminal legal system claimed a young woman negotiating homelessness stole $62 on her birthday. But what did the criminal legal system steal from her mistake?

Cierra Brock performing this story at National Association of Community & Restorative Justice conference, 2019 ©Rick Villarreal

It was just us — my mom, my sisters and me — on a trip up to Colorado’s Cripple Creek Casino in early March for my 21st birthday. It had been a hard spring. We were all living out of a U-Haul truck. …

One man’s story of overcoming addiction through love and grace, in contrast to the systemic violence he, and other inmates, experienced in prison; a call to reimagine a criminal justice system that truly offered rehabilitation.

Daniel Guillory performing his story at Motus Theater’s MLK Jr. Day performance, 2020 ©Michael Ensminger

The last time I went to jail, I had been in there for about 18 months while I was fighting my case. I called my mom, “Hey, Mama, you guys wanna come bond me out?”

She said, “Well, let me talk to your sisters and see if we can get up the money.” She talked to my sisters and they said, “No, Ma. He’s up to the same thing. Hes gonna get out and go right back to the drugs. So, we ain’t in.”

But my mom said, “Well, Im going to come get you.” She went and got a…

A story honoring the undocumented domestic workers, and women cleaning businesses, hospitals and government buildings to protect us against COVID-19.

I would like to share a story in honor of all the women cleaning businesses, hospitals, homes, and government buildings during the pandemic. My story is about my mother’s hands but it could be about your mother’s hands — the hands of women who are protecting us against COVID-19.

My mother’s hands are a form of magic because with them she can do anything.

Any time she chooses, she can make delicious food. The best homemade tortillas, barbacoa, menudo, enchiladas, tamales, buñuelos, and hot cocoa (Chocolate Abuelita).

Her hands become tender and skillful whenever I am sick. They reach out…

One man’s reflection on how fairness, freedom and not going to jail is experienced as a luxury for Black Americans and surviving an interaction with the police, a privilege.

Brian Lynch (CB Toolit) on the set at ICU Visuals. Photo permission of ICU Visuals

Have you ever worked, and worked, and worked, and when you get out of work you’re just drained? I mean DRAINED. And you can’t stand to even look at whatever it is you’ve been working on — not for one more second! For me, that was refrigerators, stoves and compressors — because I worked at Sears’ package pickup.

Well, one night I was leaving work and heading to the parking lot, totally exhausted, when the phone rang.

Do you have a friend that doesn’t have a car? I mean, just period. Not, ‘their car is in the shop’, but they…

A story of systemic oppression and one man’s insistence on transforming the brutality he was given as a DOC number into his own armor and influence.

”JustUs” monologist Juaquin Mobley at the CPR studios in Denver on Jan. 13, 2019 — Stephanie Wolf/CPR News

It’s late fall, 2002, and I’m 18 years old — full of strength and light. I tripped all the way from Washington Heights in Manhattan to Flushing, Queens, the last stop on the 7 train. Down to my last, I traveled to Home Depot to be interviewed for a job.

Filled with hope and cloaked in desperation, I walked in to meet my potential new employer. His name was Sheldon. We interviewed, and I killed it. I’m sure Sheldon felt my hunger. I detected his Caribbean accent and I tried to find common ground, being that my father was from…

A story of one young woman’s battle against invisible borders in her journey toward who she is and loves.

Kiara Chavez in the arms of her maternal grandmother in Mexico.

The longest plane ride of my life was for a trip to Mexico when I was 19 — about four years ago.

I don’t remember packing. I don’t remember the drive to the airport. I don’t remember much about all the forms I had to fill out, or how much my family had to pay to apply for Advance Parole — the program that used to allow DACA recipients to leave the country for study abroad, employment or, as in my case, a humanitarian reason. …

A story of risks and CPB checkpoints on the journey to freedom.

Irving and his grandmother on a bus in El Paso

On an annual basis, I go to El Paso, Texas to see my grandmother.

I have no problems on the drive to El Paso, but when I return home to Colorado I must pass through an immigratin checkpoint. The U.S. has CBP checkpoints within 100 miles of the border. CBP stands for Customs and Border Protection. Everyone calls them the Border Patrol, but the agents don’t like that. They are really sensitive people. The name “Border Patrol” hurts their feelings.

Sometimes when you’re stopped they want to search your vehicle. It all depends on the agent and the time of…

Motus Theater

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