Black Men…Seldom Talk About Their Anger…They Need To As Does Kymore Freeman In
His One Man Play, ‘Whites Only’
In the age of tweets and soundbites, candid conversations about white supremacy’s clutch on the lives of people of color rarely occur outside of black circles, perhaps out of fear that white people might be offended. Local activist Kymone Freeman, however, says that forcing Caucasians to confront this elephant in the room will heal the nation and save humanity.
Freeman, a self-described “angry black man in therapy,” plans to make audiences across the D.C. metropolitan area uncomfortable this spring in “Whites Only,” a one-man play in which he reflects on the bitter lessons he learned about white supremacy’s seemingly innocuous yet pervasive reach during his coming of age. Freeman said that while this performance may upset both black and white people alike, he has no qualms about telling the truth.
“I’m doing this for me and my sanity,” said Freeman, program manager at We Act Radio in Southeast. Throughout the month of March, Freeman has performed “Whites Only” for audiences at local Bus Boys & Poets restaurants with the hopes of bringing the play to the Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Northeast later this year.
The March 12 show at the 5th and K Streets location in Northwest attracted nearly two dozen people, three of whom were white. Freeman said that while black audiences have enjoyed his material, he looks forward to the day that he can express his unfiltered thoughts before an all-white crowd.
“I’ve committed my life to telling the lion’s story. I attempt to do that through We Act Radio, testimonies at D.C. council hearings, and in the streets,” said Freeman. “We live in a system that has determined one rule of law for one group of people and one rule of law for another group. Do you think that if black cops were shooting white children that the end result would be the same? No one has answered in affirmation. Our silence is approval of the situation.”
In “Whites Only,” Freeman stands onstage sporting a black shirt with “Don’t Shoot” emblazoned across the front. The two-hour show starts with his plea to guests to understand from where their long-held beliefs and traditions originated. He later regales guests with stories from his adolescence and adulthood while sipping wine.
Each of Freeman’s anecdotes touch on his interaction with family members, friends, employers, and old beaus, with a critique of America serving as the common thread. At times, he holds up a large white sign with a smiley face — representative of what he describes as the façade black men often have to put up in a white-dominated society — drawn in the middle.
Freeman leaves no stone unturned in his assault against American capitalism, the military industrial complex, gentrification, police brutality, and corporate media. Some stories, like one about an argument with a woman who wore weave, drew chuckles. Other stories, like one in which he had to comfort a young woman traumatized by a sexual assault at the hands of a drunk white man brought the room to complete silence. Guests later shook their heads in disbelief as Freeman reminisced about his violent encounters with police officers in Georgetown and Northern Virginia.
“I’ve never said any of this stuff out loud,” Freeman said. “You can’t walk around with all this rage pent up. Writing this play has given me a lot of clarity about what has happened in my life. There’s an empathy that white people don’t feel for black production because they don’t think it’s for them. That’s part of the problem. I think we need to challenge white and black people to be honest with themselves.”
Natalie Molinaro, a white woman from Chevy Chase, Maryland and guest at the March 12 viewing, shared Freeman’s sentiments. Molinaro said that “Whites Only” compelled her to think more deeply about the United States’ race problem and her experiences with white and black people.
“I learned so many facts that made me even angrier about the situation unfolding in this country,” said Molinaro, 19. “I feel a little embarrassed for my race but I don’t represent all white people. I went to a Catholic school in Maryland and had classmates who teased me about being Italian. I have friends who are black, including one who’s from Kenya. People who are racist are behind the times and I didn’t even realize those kind of people existed until I went to college.”
“Whites Only” has already found a fan in Roger Moulden II, a local minister and guest at the recent viewing. Moulden said that hearing Freeman articulate his frustrations as a black man emboldened him to do the same in his life.
“It was phenomenal and liberating to hear the things that I knew in my journey,” Moulden, 27, said. “Kymone broke down how white supremacy’s fascination with monsters comes from white people wanting others to not see them as villains. Everything he said from start to finish caught my attention. It’s important to tell the truth and let the world know that we have a point of view. We’re telling our story,” said Moulden, a Temple Hills, Maryland resident.
Freeman’s newest project comes on the heels of two previous productions and a trip to Cuba in the months after the United States changed its foreign relations status with the island nation. As a founding member of protest group DC Ferguson and frequent guest commentator on TV One’s News One with Roland Martin, Freeman has made a name for himself as an agitator of the status quo.
“I had an opportunity to go on the big stage, do some damage and contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement,” Freeman said. “If this play becomes a financial success, I will become more of a threat to the system but it will take some outside support. People in our community who are interested in seeing something different should come out. People often place a different value on white stuff than black stuff and that’s the white supremacy I’m attacking, not white people.”
We missed the play…when will it return?