By Shayler Richmond
Black, 28-year-old, Queer-artist W.J. Lofton wrote and creative directed, “We Ask for Fire” a poetry short film that eloquently provides context for America’s racial unrest by articulating the truth -- Breonna Taylor was murdered by police.
The rising poet discussed the purpose of the three-minute twenty-two-second film he published to Instagram on Aug. 26.
Born William James Lofton, he became W.J. Lofton, a poet, artist, and activist. His film, “We Ask for Fire,” is an artistic exploration into the truths of racism in America.
Lofton creative directed this film because he was tired of seeing the memeification of a Black woman. He believes art is the best way to advocate for issues he cares about. Black women are close to his heart.
His voice speaks rhythmically as he narrates the facts of Breonna Taylor’s life and death over a melody and vocals playing underneath. The lyrics consist of facts, emotions, and cultural context. Lofton cut through the noise and delivered the point and told the story of how deeply this trauma has impacted Black people. He wants viewers to hear this truth and carry it forward.
“When we talk about doing the work of protecting Black women, supporting Black women and loving Black women then we need to make art that says ‘we see Black women’” he said. James Lofton.
He published his three-minute twenty-two-second video to Instagram on Aug. 26. The film has since received over 30,000 views, garnering the support of cultural influencers like Ava Duvernay.
“I wanted to produce something that would not only honor Breonna’s transitioning but also advocate for justice, he continued.
Lofton goes by W. J. Lofton for his poetry and his social media handle is @MrJamesPoetry.
Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville Metro police on March 13. For months her family has been demanding justice and pushing for criminal charges against the officers.
Breonna Taylor laid sleeping in her bed with her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. According to reports, on Thursday night going into Friday morning at around 12 midnight, three officers dressed in plainclothes broke into Taylor’s apartment.
LMPD officers, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove were allegedly there to execute a no-knock warrant in relation to an open drug case.
According to reports, the officers forced their way into the apartment which led to a shootout. Walker claims he was unaware the unidentified men were officers. He believed his family was in danger, so he called 911 then began firing into the darkness.
The officers shot and killed unarmed Breonna Taylor. Walker shot an officer in the leg while attempting to defend his home and protect his family with a gun he is licensed to carry. No correlation has been made between the couple and the open drug case.
Lofton believes this moment calls for reflection and action. He asks all viewers to call the numbers listed below and demand justice for Breonna Taylor.
Governor Andy Beshear : (502) 564-2611
District Attorney Tom Wine : (502) 595-2300
Attorney General Daniel Cameron : (502) 696-5300
Senator Rand Paul : (202) 224-4343 / (270) 782-8303
Congressman John Yarmuth : (202) 225-5401
Kentucky Senators General Hotline: 1-800-372-7181
Writer & Creative Director: W.J. Lofton @mrjamespoetry
Producer: Shawn Michael Craig @shawnmichaelcraig
Set Designer: Tristin “Travie” @unicorntravie
Stylist: Caresse-Dionne @caressedionne
Songwriter & Singer @jmbellmusic
Featuring: Logan Burroughs @logan_lynette