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During the preview of the musical The Color Purple, directed and produced by John Ruffin or J Ruffin Entertainment/Theater 47, those in attendance were pleasantly surprised to receive a visit from actor, dancer and choreopher, Darrin Henson. He is most popular for his lead role in the film, Stomp the Yard and hit television series, Soul Food. While supporting good friend and colleague, John Ruffin, Darrin shared profound words on stage on supporting Black businesses, art, community and education. H2H Magazine was honored to receive a one-on-one interview with Darrin Henson on his latest publication, Intimate Thoughts, a compilation of poetry revolving around his personal life journey that will be featured in the upcoming edition of H2H. Click the following link to listen to the piece he performed exclusively for H2H Magazine – Fight.
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Words from Darrin Henson
Support Black – Businesses, Art, Community & Education
What you have to recognize and understand here in Chicago is that there are certain things going on, especially on the Southside, that I’ve never seen before. I don’t want to think that because Oprah Winfrey is not the city that the city is going down. So what you have to do is show that your homes are taken care of. Make sure your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your aunts, your uncles, your mothers, your fathers, your grandmothers and your grandfathers are all taken care of. Make sure to take care of yourself. When I talk about that I’m being very, very real about that.
Make sure you support Black. Make sure when you go to a church that the tithes you give to the church is for the church and its congregation. When you go to the masjids make sure that all of the people are taken care of in the masjid. When you go to the temple make sure they’re giving back to the community of that temple. Make sure that when you spend your dollar, it’s going back to the community. In the Jewish community, their money circulates 8 times before it leaves their community. In the Asian community, it circulates 6 times before it leaves their community. In the Latin community their money circulates once before it leaves their community. Guess how many times ours circulates. It does not circulate one time. That’s sad. This is why it’s sad. We work for the corporations. We work for the government who take their money before we even get our check, right? Then you get taxed again. When you go out a buy clothes, there’s taxes on clothes. When you get your food there’s taxes on food. When you get your hair done, there are taxes on that as well. We’re getting taxed, taxed, taxed and taxed! This means that the budget is not coming back in.
When we look at Tyler Perry as an example, or we look at John Ruffin as an example, we look at people who say, “Ask more of yourself than other people ask of you”. Take care of yourself; take care of your homes, because outside of us they’re not thinking about us. It’s not that we don’t matter to them; they’re not thinking about us.
What I’m simply saying to you is start challenging people who look like you to do better. Start challenging people with businesses in your community to clean them up and to give you a proper service. Challenge them! Make them better!
Support Black theatre, because when you go out to Broadway, you’re not going to see a lot of people who look like us. The tickets on Broadway cost about $600. Did you know that? When you want to go see Denzel Washington, the tickets cost $600. When you go to see Phantom of the Opera, those seats are $300 a piece. How much are your tickets John (Ruffin)? $30 and $45. Come and support this man. Support yourself; support your friends on this stage. Support the art!
Do you know how important it is for art to remain in the schools? I talked outside about reading and some of us laughed and joked. It’s not a joke. What they’re doing is taking our art from the school, and if you know anything about the artistic side of your brain it helps to develop the other side of your brain. Therefore, when you talk about academic you have to talk about the artistic, because they both work hand-in-hand. It’s very important that this side develops. When you see your child drawing, don’t tell them to stop drawing. Buy them more paper. If a child is singing, tell them to raise their voice. If a child is dancing, turn up the radio form them, because they can be the next Alvin Ailey. They can be the next Tyler Perry. They can be the next John Ruffin. They can be the next Darrin Henson. They can be the next great director! Don’t tell them to be quiet.
In closing, this is something that we must stop doing. What is the first word we learn in our community? Do you know what it is? “No”! That’s the first word we learn outside of “mama” and “dada”. “No”, “Stop”, “Don’t”. We teach our children that they can’t achieve. When a child is picking something up, he or she is learning. When a child is climbing they are picking themselves up. They are learning. When a child asks questions you tell them, “be quiet”. They’re asking questions, because they are learning, they’re inquisitive. Do you remember raising your hand in school as a child? Of course you do. Do you remember saying, “mommy, mommy, mommy”… every time she would answer you, you would have another question, because you were learning. That’s all children do. What we have to do is raise our consciousness and our ability to be patient with ourselves so that we can be patient with our children. If we don’t, when they get out into the real world, they’ll have no patience for us. None!
I’m not trying to preach at you. What I’m simply saying is that we have to learn to love ourselves, because if you look around and you are really paying attention to what’s going on, it’s being taken away from us because we’re not out taking it. When we go to ask them for it, they just say “no”. When we go to work we come home tired, we don’t have time for our children, because we feel like we don’t have time for ourselves. We don’t have time. Time is purely emotion. “I don’t have time for that”, means you don’t have emotion for that. That’s what time really is. It’s emotion. I ask you, “What is a long time”? Anytime you’re not having a good time. Anytime you’re not enjoying yourself. That’s a long time. It could be a second, and minute or an hour. I simply say, take care of yourself and your community.
(Follow Darrin Henson on Twitter @mrdhen)