Black N Blue Boys/ Broken Men written by Dael Orlandersmith
I am still thinking about Dael Orlandersmith's Black N Blue Boys/Broken Men. It is such a Maafa story--a reoccurring calamity. . . a continuation of the post colonial trauma that affects the lumpen proletariat masses, those not hooked up to a corporate life-support system intravenously.
These are their children. One father says to his son, the son he made profess: "I am nothing" three four five times then dropped the child from two stories to the ground--he says to this child later on after sobriety slaps him into shape for a few months maybe weeks: "I wanted to be a singer, and my father wouldn't let me."
This son, born in Ireland, takes charge of his life and leaves Ireland, yet success is not his because inside his soul he is still "broken."
The caseworker at the half way house, brilliant writer who cannot get published, a "trick baby"? What turn of fate pummeled him into existence? Functional just like the Irish success story until he looks in the mirror and sees himself hanging from the ledge falling into the nothingness he claimed as his--the case worker doesn't believe he is worthy, after all, his mother blames him for the dissolution of her marriage.
He is the bag left unclaimed. Trick or treat?
Broken man. If no one claims you, does that make you unworthy? If you are claimed, is it a mistake? How does one reverse the programming? How does one realize that all those people, biologically connected to you and those connected by circumstance were wrong? Where is the strangled voice that is crying to be heard?
Black N Blue Boys/ Broken Men is brilliant in its reflection on the human soul that there is something so indelible about the human species, especially children that no matter how battered, they often can find not only forgiveness but redemption for their souls.
However, in Black N Blue Boys. . . black and blue bruises, the blues melodies their lives sing again and again shifting from treble clef to lower rungs on the staff, the boys who make it to manhood are broken at least in this parable. Perhaps if there was more support for the boys running between stations trying to find safety, love, peace, then perhaps these boys would be able to articulate the pain and rid themselves of it so that they could be whole rather than broken men, like their fathers and brothers and friends who use drugs and alcohol as crutches, who strike out at the weakest link in the DNA strand or lineage, their children . . . often seen as hope for the family. However in Orlandersmith's world . . . there is no future, so children are a part of a static landscape like lampposts furniture debris one steps over, walks through or pushes out of the way.
There are witnesses. This battering is not all taking place in the back seats of limousines, in back room closets, under bleachers, in public toilets. Some of this tragedy if public, yet with resources shrinking, these boys don't get the help they need and deserve. The public is in such denial; even after seeing the play certain members in the audience didn't realize that these boys live next door to them or down the street, some even might be kin.
The problem is not over there just beyond our empathic reach. We live in such a economically stratified racialized world one can miss these boys even if one comes to plays like Orlandersmith's. From the comments in the talk back, I saw how the comfortable could choose to remain impervious, to do nothing and walk around blind.