A Tribute to Black Men
Christian Loriel Lucas and her son Terron. Christian’s work The Black Boy Narratives is a collection of staged monologues taken from the true stories of boys and men ages 5-25.
Wanting the truth and vulnerability of Black male voices to be heard, Christian Loriel Lucas is creating a forum to ensure this occurs. The Black Boy Narratives is a collection of staged monologues taken from the true stories of boys and men ages 5-25. Once these accounts are compiled and written by Christian, actors will perform these varied narratives here in Louisville so an audience can experience firsthand what it means to grow up as a Black man. “I want to show these young men and boys for who they are and let them be vulnerable,” Christian says.
Today Christian is a fiction writer, essayist, and screenwriter, but as a young girl growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, she didn’t follow her dream of writing until later in life. “I didn’t think it was realistic, and I didn’t know any other writers who looked like me,” Christian says. As a teenager, once she read author Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye, she knew writing would become part of her life. She subsequently graduated from the University of Louisville with a Master’s Degree in English in the fall of 2020.
Collecting oral histories and having them performed in a theatrical setting is a process that has always intrigued Christian. Over time, it became clear that her first endeavor into this medium should center around the life experiences of those closest to her. “I’ve been around Black men all my life. I’ve heard all their stories from my father, to my brother, to my uncles,” Christian says.
Now, Christian is the mother to a 5-year-old son and she derives her inspiration from motherhood as well. “Moms have a baby and the urge to protect kicks in,” Christian begins, “but when it comes to being the mother of a Black boy it’s different. I have all these other things to worry about.” Concerns about how her son will view himself as he grows into adulthood and how society will perceive him stay with her. This is one reason she’s determined to capture the raw fragility in a participant’s stories to help shift the narrative and change stereotypes.
The first step in creating this type of work is to connect with a diverse group of men and boys. She’s eager to collect accounts from all walks of life because everyone’s perception is different. In doing so she’s committed to “capturing a whole story from each participant, but I want to keep the temperature of their story intact,” Christian says.
Her goal is to protect the integrity and honesty of every person’s experience. Christian says, “This is about humanizing Black men and boys in Louisville.” And telling stories ranging from childhood experiences to meeting a first love connects to an audience in ways that transform preconceived notions. “They (black men) hurt. They love. They have joy. They cry. They have fears and that makes them human like everyone else,” Christian says. An audience will have the opportunity to experience the joys and sadness inherent in all these real-life stories. When it comes to the magical element theatre provides for The Black Boy Narratives, Christian adds, “Seeing a person on stage, and really listening and engaging in their story — it’s a beautiful experience.”
Christian admits she’s a little nervous seeing her project come together, but her pre-show jitters aren’t dampening her drive. She’s hopeful this collection will create a safe space for Black men to be heard and for an audience to take away that “there’s nothing wrong with being a Black boy in America.”
You can make a donation to this project, with the help of The Fund for the Arts in partnership with LG&E and KU Foundation. ArtsMatch, a fund matching grant opportunity, will match the donations raised through June 30.