Private Screening For “Say Their Names” Video

By Journalist Ms. Jones

“We hate because we fear and when one does the courageous and introspective work to overcome the fears that drive them to hate, the shackles that have changed our minds and hearts become unlocked. It is only in this state of freedom we begin to experience a fuller and more rewarding life.”- Poet Gold. On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, former Dutchess County Poet Laureate Bettina “Poet Gold” Wilkerson and Suprina Troche held a private screening for their new video which they executively produced titled “Say Their Names.” The event was held virtually on Zoom.It was birthed as a response to George Floyd’s murder.

“We were both trying to process his murder… process the anger… process the mourning,” said Poet Gold. “Suprina…began… working on a sculpture of her puppet Themis and I began working on a poem called ‘Say Their Names,’ which ultimately became a ‘poelody.’ I like to call them ‘poelodies’ because sometimes they’re not a complete… song in the traditional sense… maybe two verses and a hook.”

Poet Gold and Sounds of Heritage Choir in “Say Their Names” Video.
Poet Gold and Sounds of Heritage Choir in “Say Their Names” Video.

While Poet Gold, the recipient of the Dutchess County Executive’s “Artivist” Award, is noticeably the poet in “Say Their Names” which features Sounds of Heritage Choir, Troche, an artist whose work is seen all over NYC and New Jersey, is in the video as Themis.

“Themis came to me after George Floyd just because…I started to think about… how this just keeps on happening… Protests, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. This is still going on and this guy is sitting on George Floyd’s neck, knowing he’s being filmed with a smirk on his face… So, I was thinking of Themis, who is the Greek, blind… Goddess of Justice. And I just changed her because she’s a female in the Greek mythology to a… white male because that’s who runs our country. That’s who decides for all of us who is guilty and who’s innocent, and who will… serve punishment. And I gave him straw hair and made him completely white like a ghost, and then gave him a cape with hundreds of names of unarmed black and brown brothers and sisters that were killed by the police. And he wears that very heavily… He’s hunched over. He’s ashamed,” said Troche who was voted “Best Portfolio” by Pro Arts, NJ and is a sculptor and activist through her art.

Poet Gold and Troche came together to write a grant. “Say Their Names” was funded by a Statewide Community Regrants Program of the NYS Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor as well as the New York State Legislature and was administered by Arts Mid-Hudson. It shows the story of slavery in America to the Civil Rights Movements to the Black Lives Matter Movement, giving some sense of hope. The video begins with Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the Till family… I’ve worked for a nonprofit called Real Skills Network and we brought them to Poughkeepsie to give them an Icon Award for the work that the family has done… since the death of Emmett Till… And timing… is everything… They have the Emmett Till series on… If you ask someone today, without the series… do you know who Emmett Till is? I can probably guarantee you that 8 out of 10 would not know his name… For me, that was another name that needs to be said,” Poet Gold said, who dedicated the video to her grand uncle, Reuben Ware, who was murdered by a white man.

“Say Their Names” will premiere to the public on Tuesday, February 1, 2022 at 7pm. The screening is free, but you must RSVP at After that, the audio will be available to download on Bandcamp or at and a portion of the proceeds will go towards bringing the Soundtrack of Life, an anti-gun violence program by the Sundog Theatre, to the Mid-Hudson Valley.

“I’ve been involved in it for the last five years… We go into the schools out in Staten Island and we stay with those kids… for six months. It’s not just a one-day workshop… We’re actually able to build a level of trust with the children… They’re all fighting to perform some type of spoken word or some type of song or lyric, or they want to draw something visually… They’re talking about violence on a real level… and recognizing that they don’t have to participate,” said Poet Gold who works with the program as a Teaching Artist in the middle and high schools.

Troche discovered her white privilege years ago.

“I think it’s really important that my white brothers and sisters start to understand that no one’s asking them to feel guilty or bad about 400 years of slavery… You need to see our history and you need to see what’s going on right now with police brutality and systemic racism and you just need to act on it now,” said Troche.

Journalist Ms. Jones

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