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What is Community?

Updated: May 14

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. (Definition created by 0nyxmagnolia)

  1. What would it feel like if you were to no longer have access to your home or community spaces for another's economic purposes?

  2. What would that feel like for generations? Think about this historically over time.

  3. How would you work to retain or rebuild community and your traditions?

  4. How many communities are you a part of? What are the cultural traditions you participate in with your community?

 

While attending Spelman College, at the Baldwin Burroughs drama and dance department, I had the opportunity to examine the impact of slavery on African American communities through the artistic expression of Theatre. The descendants of slaves have historically had our communities severed, attacked and devalued by WASP nationalities as well as by our own. Slavery, 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 our production of "The Blue Vein Society", Directed by Tisch Jones and based on the book "The Wife of His Youth" by American author Charles W. Chesnutt, we examined a part of this impact my freshman year. Following the fictional story of Mr. Ryder, a bi-racial man who was born and raised free before the Civil War, and leads a organization called the "Blue Veins Society". The name "Blue Veins Society" refers to 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. Mr. Ryder plans to propose to a very light mixed-race woman, named Molly Dixon at the next Blue Vein ball, for which he is giving a speech. But before the event he meets an older, plain-looking black woman named 'Liza Jane. Liza Jane is searching for her husband Sam Taylor, whom she has not seen in 25 years 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. 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."


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wife_of_His_Youth




Photo Art: Ancestors by 0nyxmagnolia

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