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Idris Goodwin was announced Wednesday as one of United States Artists’ Class of Fellows for 2021.

Words are Idris Goodwin’s form of activism for the moment.

The award-winning playwright, poet and director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College recently released five free plays intended to spark conversations among young people about racism. The plays are available online at tyausa.org/freeplay.

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Goodwin wrote two of the plays (“#matter” and “Black Flag”) as an assistant professor of theater at CC. The other three were written this year as the George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests began. He wanted to get involved in some capacity.

“I wanted to put ideas in a room and see what questions come up,” he says. “Kids are confused. Racism is illogical, but it’s an idea and a dangerous one. It’s scary to talk about. Putting it in a drama, which automatically puts you in someone else’s shoes, is fun. Even if it’s about something dark and difficult. It’s a way to invite the conversation.”

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In “The Water Gun Song,” a parent tries to explain to their child why playing with a toy water gun is problematic. In “Act Free,” three kids struggle with the definition of freedom. “Nothing Rhymes With Juneteenth” features a parent and child creating a rap for a school presentation. In “#matter,” two former high school friends debate life and race. And in “Black Flag,” two new college roommates get along until one hangs a Confederate flag.

The plays are intended to be done in any number of ways, says Goodwin, such as a Zoom production, at home or in schools.

“It came from the commitment I’ve made to myself as a writer. I write the world I see,” he says. “I write, but I also write to expand and deepen the black condition. It’s a global condition.”

Racism is an everyday topic in Goodwin’s home, which he shares with his wife and two kids. And he’s hopeful about eventually extinguishing it.

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“We’ve been here before, and we’ll keep being here until we get to a place where policies, hearts and minds align,” he says.

“It’s doable. We need a quorum of the population on board. It’s bigger than prejudice. It’s about a real shift in the culture that it is no longer afraid to engage in conversation about these kinds of issues and committed to real reconciliation.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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