El Segundo locals tell the story of what it’s like being ‘Black in Mayberry’ in new film
These are the voices of El Segundo.
The city’s residents are sharing their experiences with racism in “Black in Mayberry,” a new film inspired by Black Lives Matter protests in El Segundo. The film aims to tell the stories that may not always be discussed between people of different races.
One young woman talks about how she always dresses in bright athletic gear when she’s jogging to make it clear that she is exercising and not running from something.
Another talks about the pressure of being the “token Black friend” and sometimes feeling like she’s being used as an accessory so some of her friends can say they’re not racist.
A 13-year-old girl talks about how she and her mom were pulled over by the police on the way to school after the death of George Floyd and thinking that she would die at the hands of law enforcement.
“We thought we would create a series of short conversations where we had our Black residents, students and professionals here in El Segundo just speak on one topic, one element that they probably wouldn’t usually divulge to their White neighbors,” said Tanya Taylor, the film’s producer and one of the co-founders of the organization El Segundo for Black Lives, which has teamed up with the El Segundo-based art laboratory ESMoA for a live screening of the film on Tuesday, May 11, at Brewport Tap House.
Following the screening, “Black in Mayberry” will be available to view online via ESMoA’s website May 12-15.
Tanya Taylor, with El Segundo for Black Lives, speaks during a vigil at the Manhattan Beach pier in honor of Breonna Taylor on Sunday, October 4, 2020. Taylor is the producer of a new documentary film “Black in Mayberry,” which aims to tell the stories that may not always be discussed between people of different races. (File photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
Tanya Taylor leads an El Segundo for Black Lives humming event at Library Park in El Segundo on Saturday, September 5, 2020. Taylor is the producer of a new documentary film “Black in Mayberry,” which aims to tell the stories that may not always be discussed between people of different races. (File photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
Members of El Segundo for Black Lives, South Bay Cares and Sheba march and hold a vigil at the Manhattan Beach pier in honor of Breonna Taylor on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. Tanya Taylor, co-founder of the organization El Segundo for Black Lives is the producer of a new documentary film “Black in Mayberry,” which intertwines pictures taken during protests with stories about being Black in El Segundo. (File photo by Axel Koester, Contributing Photographer)
“The message is for everyone who’s open to listening. The people who are speaking are people who live here. They are students; they are mothers; they are professionals here. The message is really for everyone because at the end of the day it’s a human issue,” Taylor said.
The title of the one-hour film was inspired by how some locals refer to El Segundo as “Mayberry by the sea,” a reference to the 1960s “The Andy Griffith Show,” which was set in the idyllic town of Mayberry.
The one-hour film, directed by El Segundo photographer Mark Knight, is made up of about a dozen three-minute-long monologues intertwined with photos Knight took of the El Segundo protests.
“We thought it would be a really good way to bring some more understanding of the Black experience because I think a lot of the times when people get caught up in all of the arguments surrounding social justice and civil rights, much of it is from a lack of understanding,” Taylor said.
The idea for the film started last year when Taylor was marching in a Black Lives Matter protest her group organized in El Segundo and Knight began taking pictures of Taylor’s 2-year-old daughter in a stroller.
She asked to see the pictures and he showed her many of the shots he had taken that day. She liked the pictures and asked him to return to document another planned protest for El Segundo for Black Lives.
Attending the protests was an eye opening experience for Knight.
“At each of these protests I began to hear a rhythm to the stories; I learned who was telling those stories. I’m a White guy, I didn’t know these stories but everybody else did and that really stuck out to me, I hadn’t heard this stuff before,” he said.
“I would like people to view the film and understand that it’s just about listening to our neighbors,” Knight said.
‘Black in Mayberry’
When: Screens at 7:30 p.m. May 11 and streams on the ESMoA website from 7:30 p.m. May 12 to 7:30 p.m. May 15.
Where: Live screening at Brewport Tap House, 204 Main St., El Segundo.
Cost: Free, but in-person screening tickets must be reserved at tinyurl.com/26ddnyjc