“This is the simplest manner in which I might point out the need to center humanity in all of our efforts. In my work there is one thing that I have noticed more and more and which has formulated much of my approach in the work I do—this idea that in the mechanics of prison, in the day to day, the very first thing that is removed to allow the operation of prison to run is a sense of humanity. It’s what allows the prison system to move on as a business as usual. Whether you’re on the legal side or whether you are now in reentry as a formerly incarcerated person, or whether you’re young person being churned through the court system, or whether you’re a survivor of crime that has really been blocked from the decision-making process of, let’s say, what restitution or healing looks like. All of these groups are unified in that there is no humanity that allows them to connect with one another.”
Shaun Leonardo's multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood, namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities, along with its notions of achievement, collective identity, and experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly – a diversion program for court-court-involved youth – is participatory in nature and invested in a process of embodiment.
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