What It Iz is a journey of self-discovery from the birth of hip-hop through the social and political corruption that fuels the current incarceration epidemic. Poster credit: Mastermind Graphics LLC

What It Iz and the Beyond the Bars Conference

Bryonn Bain, African American Studies, UCLA

This project includes the following works:

“What It Iz: The Spoken Wordical”

Adapted by ten incarcerated artists at the oldest women’s prison in the state, the California Institute for Women, “What It Iz” is a prison abolitionist, hip hop theater and spoken word remix of “The Wiz.” Over 100 years after L. Frank Baum brought us “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” we have an LA-based take on his legendary tale. “What It Iz: The Spoken Wordical” is a 21st century urban parody, remixing Baum’s classic and the 1970s Broadway musical-turned-motion picture “The Wiz.” Originally featuring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Richard Pryor, Lena Horne and scored by Quincy Jones, the film inspired the writing of this play to become a hit at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe, American Place Theater, Yale and Harvard before it was adapted in a UCLA Creative Writing Workshop at the CIW Prison.

This 2018 performance served as a benefit for the Sankofa Summer School for girls incarcerated at BJN Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, California.

“Women Beyond Bars: Reentry and Human Rights”

A report developed with the Think Tank launched by the UCLA Prison Education Program at the California Institute for Women. Directed by Professors Bryonn Bain and Tendayi Achiume, this domestic human rights report was researched and written by students in the UCLA Law School International Human Rights Law Clinic.

Download >> Women Beyond Bars: Reentry and Human Rights executive summary and full report (Published November 2018)