Living in the Wind is a play being performed at Creative Arts Theater, which asks the question, “Can a man and woman, married during slavery, separated by circumstances, reunited after 12 years during Reconstruction, live happily ever after?” The reunion is bittersweet for the couple because they are confronted by ghosts of their past.
The slavemaster raped Sarah, the wife, nightly. She bore him two children. One child she murdered and the second one was snatched away and sold off the plantation.
Isaiah the husband, was used during slavery as a stud to produce strong, healthy slave children for the plantation. He had the key to every cabin and could rape any black woman at will. At one point, as Isaiah recounts his misadventures, he mentions that he encountered an elderly black woman who told him he was not a real man. He wanted to strike her, but she stood up to him and he backed down.
The sad reality for communities such as Austin is that too many males, like Isaiah, are not real men. They may be drug dealers, preachers, gang leaders, politicians and baby-makers, but they are not men. These individuals take their frustrations out on other black people rather than face those who oppress them or demean them.
To be a man means defining what is yours-your home, your family, your community, your country-and defend it with your life. It requires you to take responsibility for your actions and assert fundamental core principles that will survive you after death.
One such principle is leadership. Real men are leaders in the home, church, schools, community and government. In almost every one of these categories, African-American males get a low grade.
Later in the play, a character named Hattie announces her forgiveness of the white slavemaster for the rapes, murders, beatings and other atrocities he committed against his slaves. Hattie did this while in the next breath denouncing Isaiah for his womanizing, forcing his wife, Sarah, to ask the question, if Hattie forgave the former slavemaster, why couldn’t she forgive Isaiah?
This is a question that plagues most thinking black people. Why are African-Americans so hard on themselves and each other, while forgiving the transgressions of those who enslaved the group?
Isaiah says he was born in guilt (guilty of being a black man born in America) and that guilt lives with him daily. Is this the guilt that keeps black men drinking alcohol, doing drugs and engaging in various escapist activities rather than stepping up to the plate and being responsible for their actions?
Africans sold their people into slavery. African-American slaves beat, raped and sold out other black people to gain favor with the master. Is this the guilt that must be forgiven? Wikipedia encyclopedia defines forgiveness as ceasing to feel resentment, indignation or anger at another [or self] for a perceived offense.
Is it possible for African-Americans living in Austin to forgive themselves and their brethren or are we doomed to continue carrying this guilt brought about by the sins of the past?