Updated: Jun 5
Community- a group of individuals who share a common or multiple identities. Communities can be based on race, gender, local, economic status, citizenship status, mental or physical ability, sexual attraction or shared ideology.
What would it feel like if you were to no longer have access to your home or community spaces for another economic purposes?
What would that feel like for generations? Think about this historically over time.
How would you work to retain or rebuild community and your traditions?
How many communities are you a part of? What are the cultural traditions you participate in with your community?
While in school, at the Baldwin Burroughs drama and dance department, I had the opportunity to examine the impact of slavery on African American communities. The descendants of slaves have historically had our communities severed, attacked and devalued by other nationalities as well as by our own. Slavery as an institution and values system which continues today has created repercussions on identity, trust and community for African Americans and the African Diaspora worldwide (Afro Caribbean, Afro Latinx, ...).
In a production of "The Blue Vein Society",based on the book "The Wife of His Youth" by American author Charles W. Chesnutt, we follow Mr. Ryder, a bi-racial man who was born and reared free before the Civil War who heads the "Blue Veins Society". The Blue Veins society is a social organization for colored people in a northern town whose membership consists of people with a high proportion of European ancestry and look more white than black. The organization's name stemmed from the joke that one would have to be so white (to be a member) that veins could be seen through the skin. Ryder begins courting a very light mixed-race woman, Molly Dixon. He plans to propose to her at the next Blue Vein ball, for which he is giving a speech. Before the talk, he meets an older, plain-looking black woman. Her name is 'Liza Jane, and she is searching for her husband Sam Taylor, whom she has not seen in 25 years. She says she was married to Sam before the Civil War, when she was enslaved and he was a hired apprentice to the family of her master. Despite Taylor's being a free black, the family tried to sell him into slavery. She assisted Sam in escaping, and he promised to return and free her, but she was sold to a different master. Ryder advises her that slave marriages did not count after the war; marriages had to be officially made legal. She shows him an old picture of Sam and leaves.
At the ball Ryder addresses the members and tells them 'Liza Jane's story. At the conclusion, he asks the attendees whether or not they think the man should acknowledge his wife. Everyone urges yes. He brings out 'Liza and says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the woman, and I am the man, whose story I have told you. Permit me to introduce to you the wife of my youth."