lundi, octobre 31, 2005

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorranie Hansberry

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And the run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it jyst sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode? "
-Langston Hughes

It seems like it dries up, but then when it gets the tiniest piee of hope, it can well up in a person and just explode from the happiness of it.. the burst of emotion, becuase one just can't contain the deferral anymore...

I just finished the play I began reading for my sukkot trip. By far, _A Raisin in the Sun_ (ARITS) is one of these rich and deep, painfully poignant and oh, so, true portaryals of what life in America is. What is horrendous is that the message of the play, written in the mid to late 1950's, is still so true today. It is true today not just for the Blacks, but for the Hispanics, and in some ways for the various kinds of Asian Americans, who despite their model minority status, really do suffer from a macabre and grotesque racism.

I find myself profoundly struck by this play. It is set in Southside Chicago, which right now makes it drive home all too clearly the point -- how we force people into ghettoes. There is a neighborhood in Skokie where no houses could be sold to Jews. It was a "Gentleman's Agreement" that the houses could only be sold to white protestants... Asagai in ARITS talks about how the minorities are just assimilating to fit in and shedding their heritage and identity to be white. The snubbing of George Murchison who really is parroting what whites do, so as to appear like them, but missing the point that and education is for thinking and knowledge.. a poitn that Beneatha actually gets, but hasn't the moeny to capitalize off of... The pride in Walter of Mama and of ruth when he stands up to the injustices, stands up to the putrid racism, and stands up for a dream on having their own home...

I'm reminded of the time when my father decided we were building our own house. He wanted a beautiful house. He wanted a house of his own desires so that he could prove to the world that he had finally made his dream come true. For years my uncle wanted to pull him down and criticized one thing after another. My uncle was one of these compete and pull down people. He nnever let up on telling my father how the white people were out to get them and that my father would never get his certification. I never remembered how much the Willy Harrises of our world hurt until I read this passage in ARITS when Willy steals Walter's money and his dream, totally bankrupting the family and destroying their dreams. I remember when my father finally passed the exams that allowed him to be properly certified in English, his pride in having achieved his dream was amazing, and it came between the hard knocks that life dealt to him... but still a dream is a dream! I had forgotten how much being beaten down and trodden on was actually a part of our consciousness. I had forgotten too though how much our family's dreams matter to us... even when we forget becuase we are trying to be individuals and express who we are... there are still the dreams. Mama's dreams of a garden and her claim that the little plant is her expression of herself. Bennie's expression of herself in photography, music, and horseback riding as she searches for soemthing that speaks out and says who she is... what amazes me so deeply is that self-expression is so vital for those who dream. If you have a dream, it seems that creating and creativity are vital for staying alive... what we keep alive is our internal hope for the realization of our dreams.

When Cindy said, we marry white people to sanitize ourselves... we marry whites so that they can make our dream that we have become white true, I was struck by the implications. When Walter and Beaneatha tell Mama why the whites don't want them to move into Clybourne Park, they reply to her wounded cry "what do they think we're gonna do?" with the annswer "marry them." Maybe that wasn't so awful and wrong after all. Eugene says Chinese should marry Chinese. My father wishes that his children would marry others who are just like them. My mother recognizes that this isn't possible. Deep down inside, I see finally how powerful and how painful this statement is... I always wanted to marry someone who would learn to speak some chinese for my parents. I watched my parents curb their tongues to speak in a language foreign to them, so as not to exclude the white people, but never saw the Israelis curb their tongues to speak in a language that would include those who didn't speak Hebrew. My parents fought to preserve something of their culture and identity for their children, but fought and dreamed... their dreams lost out time after time, because they were polite and had manners that were in accordance with their culture. I feel an acute pain because this play raises so many questions and so many problems. Asagai's comment to Bennie that there are always going to be bad people in every culture and every people is so true. I remember now what he said and how it applied to Jenny's comment that the thieves in china had no pity. I think of the terrible Jews who betrayed their own to get ahead and recall Lil's mentioning to me her theory that the best of the Jews died, because that was the only way to survive. Only the ones who could survive would do so...

As Walter Lee Younger cries out and I would paraphrase... the money that paid for my education, that paid for my life, my food my sustenance is made of the flesh of my father and mother, the flesh of my grandfather and grandmother, the flesh too of those who pay taxes and those who struggle to live and those who luxuriously live... that money is for our dreams. Ultimately, Mama quote Walter Younger the Elder and something brightened for me in my understanding of the world... " Seem like God didn't see fit to give the black man nothing but dreams --but He did give us children to make them dreams seem worth while. (pp.45-46 Vintage Books 1994 edition)"

I think of all this and my heart cries for my parents, for my family, for my world... I, too, am a part of this world. One by one all we can do is "be the change we wish to see in the world."

I can only hope that someday, I, too, like Walter Lee Younger will come into my adulthood and find that ground upon which through my own heritage I can stand tall and be the person I was amde to be. A Confucian saying is that the tree grows leaves and the leaves reach to the sun, but in the end the leaves fall back to the roots. No matter what I will never forget that I am Chinese. I will never forget all the flesh and blood that was paid so my life could be here. My freedom comes at a dear price... and it would be wrong of me not to remember and not to honor that which has come before me...