December 28, 1998. Nineteen year old Tyisha Miller pulls over to the side of the road on account of having a flat tire. Her friend and cousin leave to go call for help and when they return, Tyisha has passed out, and they call the police for help. When help arrives, the situation escalates, as they find Tyisha incapacitated with a loaded gun, and an altercation commences leaving the young woman dead after the police land twelve gunshots, four to her head.

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My Name is Myeisha

My Name is Myeisha is based on the stage play Dreamscape, in which each of the bullets striking the young woman trigger memories, spilling out before us a grand narrative of who she was and what we lost upon her death. This translation holds to the staged format, an account of all twelve bullets that landed, where they have entered the body and the damage they’ve done, and the memories they might’ve awoken before her death. The story is presented by the victim in the style of beatbox and slam poetry, with backup by a man who takes multiple forms as the police and the coroner.

It has an effective method that provokes genuine emotion. What is most moving is finding out about the people whom we lost. No, she is not only a victim of widespread police brutality. She was a loving part of a family trying to make her own way in society. She planned dance routines to the hip-hop of the time with her girlfriends. She played baseball and was a pretty good athlete. She loved Barbeque joints but not the prison issue white bread that came with the meals to soak up the ‘que sauce. These are the details that made my heart ache for our great losses.

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My Name is Myeisha

Emphasis is provided through resounding repetition. The officer knocking at her window as she sits unconscious but genuflecting in her dream-state about what’s happening around her. She narrates continually for emphasis, “So I’m strapped with my gat at Central & Brockton, .38 in my lap in case I get rocked on.” The rhyme schemes remain straightforward and instructive; they level absurd losses into tight rhythms to help us cope. “Ever have one of those dreams, where nothing comes out when you try to scream?”

Its stage origins show through often. There is no mistaking how this would feel on a stage. It hasn’t taken any greater aims at elaborating the vision into a motion picture except through abstractions and fluidity alone. It is, however, a good experiment of style, a resounding and emotive piece of poetic filmmaking that hurts when it lands exactly as intended.

★★½

Written by Calvin Kemph

Dad & writer. Press: calvinkemph@yahoo.com

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