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Writing "We Wear The Mask" By Reggie Bennett

"We Wear The Mask" is based on a poe m of the same title by Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Dunbar was America's first celebrated black poet, known for writing both in standard English and the black dialect of the time. In his poem, written in 1896, Dunbar describes how African-Americans had to mask their feelings of pain, humiliation, and disgust during segregation and Jim Crow. After living with Dunbar's poem for several months, I began to internalize it's meaning in a deeply personal way. James Lindsay (composer of the original song) and I talked about what this mask could represent, and began using James Ensor's beautiful mask paintings and Pablo Picasso's African inspired masks as muses. Before long, a new idea emerged.

I wrote "We Wear The Mask" as a love letter to myself. It's a deeply honest and intimate self-reflection that came during a time of powerful, life affirming experiences. The song's "Mask" actually refers to the relationship I have within which shapes my understanding of power and sense of purpose. For that reason, I celebrate my mask (essentially my ego) for how it has preserved and strengthened me. Thankfully, I am inspired to live, dream, take risks and believe--even in the face of doubt. Therefore, I unashamedly proclaim my devotion to my mask, as I know it’s a sacred gift from God.

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