Susan Kander and Roberta Gumbel Release Video Excerpt from ‘dwb (driving while black)’

By Logan Martell

On June 7, 2021, Susan Kander and Roberta Gumbel released a video excerpt from their new monodrama “dwb (driving while black),” titled “My Beautiful Brown Boy.”

Released in commemoration of Juneteenth, the excerpt is sung by Gumbel; she is accompanied by New Morse Code, made up of cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Michael Compitello.

“Six syllables to express a mother’s love to her child, her dreams and worries for him: ‘You are not who they see’,” write Kander and Gumbel. “With these six short words, she acknowledges that his future hinges on a hard truth of American history going all the way back to 1619. We offer this lullaby, My Beautiful Brown Boy, in the hope that while it’s still true today, it will be less true tomorrow.”

“dwb (driving while black)” was released in March of 2021, and follows the story of an African American parent as her child grows up and reaches driving age, exploring and relating the difficult experience of navigating the world around them. The singer, played by Gumbel, takes on a variety of characters through the scenes and vignettes which comprise the work.