Inspiration for this writing is a reflection. October, years ago, my father died (age 52) from black lung cancer, after working half of his life in a steel mill. Coincidentally, I just finished re-reading the novel, A Raisin in the Sun, produced as a play, which I saw several times. One of my fondest memories was taking my nephew (Woodrow, named in honor of my father) and his classmate to Ashland, Oregon, to see the theater production of A Raisin in the Sun.
Like Walter Lee Younger, the main play’s character, my father also had significant dreams. Dad wanted to own his home: The American Dream. We rented for a long time, often not getting a lease because of our skin color or moving because the white landlord refused the property’s repairs. Even in an Ohio town, segregation and discrimination were subtle enough to whisper, “You’re not wanted.” As time passed and laws relaxed Dad’s perseverance was able to obtain a mortgage with Home Savings and Loan based on his honorable army discharge papers, a letter of character, a detailed work-history reference from his white boss, and Dad’s promissory handshake—never to default on his obligation (which he didn’t, by working two jobs and my mother working one job—our home WAS our home). The seller of the house my father bought, I found out years later, was a white man, who chose not to live in a neighborhood that was increasingly “becoming homes to Colored People, who thought they deserved what White People had built up.”
Today of loud protests, one theme is discrimination, walking with eyes wide open. Those who know its history, have many memories.
As a writer, I’m influenced by many aspects: photographs, movies, music, books, my parents, my friends, places I’ve lived/visited, the news, and social media. I started this blogging journey five years ago—much has changed about me as a writer, a person, and what my thoughts reflect. More than often, it’s now Mom and Dad’s encouragement and willpower guiding my fingers. Dad died at an early age, as did Lorraine Hansberry, whose own family,and the one in A Raisin in the Sun, ironically dealt with Chicago housing discrimination—What we learn as children surely opens our eyes.
If all I have is words of truth, let them be the ones that carry me to my grave.