Once enslaved people became free, these practices were difficult to undo. Entire generations of newly freed black men and women were faced with the burden of freedom and the psychological effects of regaining their personhood and finding meaning in a new world in which they made decisions for themselves. In addition, the rage built up from the period of enslavement becomes necessary to examine. Where does that aggression go when the ones to blame still have the power to destroy the new life you’ve created for yourself?
Myrtle Smith Livingston was an educator who lived and worked in Colorado for the public school and university system. She wrote For Unborn Children in 1926 and submitted it to The Crisis magazine, the official publication of the NAACP, as part of a literary contest in which Livingston won third prize. The story is simple, revolving around a small family cast with a simple living room set, but the themes and issues Livingston addressed were anything but simple.
The play cent...
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...acial marriage between blacks and whites as adding “another link to the chain that binds them” to white people, undoing years of freedom and subjugating themselves again to white dominance. Because of these choices Leroy makes, his fate is to be murdered by a white lynch mob; by deciding to “bind” himself once again to the white man, he offers himself up to them. In Livingston’s eyes, and through the blatancy of her narrative choices, he is getting what he deserves.
This begs an exploration back into the roots of misplaced aggression in the creation of black identity and the beginning of colorism in African-American communities. This play and its popularity with Crisis readers is telling of a wide spread mishandling of interracial marriage and mixed race children. Their conscious link to whiteness, to the oppressor, was thought of as a symbolic return to slavery.
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