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Waterstar

Had old Expectations been Abandoned or had they Evolved?

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(Is this truly a complete change in expectations or is this more of an evolution of expectations between these two generations?)

Walter: I want so many things that they are driving me kind of crazy... Mama, look at me.

Mama: I'm looking at you. You a good-looking boy. You got a job, a nice wife, a fine boy and-

Walter: A job. [Looks at her.] Mama, a job? I open andd close car doors all day long. I drive a man around in his limousine and I say, "Yes sir; no, sir; very good, sir; shall I take the Drive, sir?" Mama, that ain't no kind of job...that ain't nothing at all. [Very quietly] Mama, I don't know if I can make you understand.

Mama: Understand what, Baby?

Walter: [Quietly] Sometimes it's like I can see the future stretched out in front of me-just plain as day. The future, mam. Hanging over there at the edge of my days. Just waiting for me- a big, looming blank space- full of nothing. Just waiting for me. [Pause] Mama sometimes when I'm downtown and I pass them cool, quiet-looking restaurants where them white boys are sitting back and talking bout things...sitting there turning deals worth millions of dollars...sometimes I see guys don't look much older than me-

Mama: Son- how come you talk so much bout money?

Walter: [With immense passion] Because it is life, Mama!

Mama: [Quietly.] Oh. [Very quietly.] So now it's life. Money is life. Once upon a time freedom used to be life-now it's money. I guess the world really do change...

Walter: No- it was always money, ama. We just didn't know about it.

Mama: No...Something has changed. [She looks at him.] You something new, boy. In my time, we was worried about not being lynched and getting to the North if we could and how to stay alive and still have a pinch of dignity too... Now here come you and Beneatha- talking bout things we ain't never even thought about hardly, me and your daddy. You ain't satisfied or proud of nothing we done. I mean that you had a home; that we kept you out of trouble till you was grown; that you don't have to ride to work on the back of nobody's streetcar- You my children- but how different we done become.

Walter: You just don't understand, Mama, you just don't understand.

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I just saw a a play a few weeks ago called Clybourne Park The Addresses the complexity of "White Flight" and "Gentrification". The play, currently running on Broadway, picks up where Lorraine Hansberry's (1930-1965) Raisin in the Sun leaves off, then revisits the situation 50 years later. An excellent play.

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I am saddened by the level of materialism that exists not only among our young people, but Americans in general. It has always been an issue in this country since the beginning; the nation's constant expansion was based on Europeans' insatiable appetite for land which in those days was directly connected to wealth. Although we do need to establish our own businesses and financial institutions to provide employment and prosperity for our people, the everything has a price' attitude had devolved relationships between men and women to what one or the other can afford. Women and men have placed a price on themselves, believing that money buys happiness. I think that's the reason we see so many celebrities and other wealthy people resorting to dangerous behavior. They spent their lives seeking wealth only to find that once they have it it's not enough. There has to be a purpose to your life. We as parents and elders much teach that to our young ones.

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I definitely feel you on the level of materialism. This really is a profit first media oriented society, so there are constantly images being fed to our minds. Buy, buy, buy. It will make you feel good; it will make you feel important. Low self esteem? No problem, just buy this. Need status? No problem, just buy this. Don't you deserve the good life? Well, it can be yours too for a price...even if you can't afford the good life, just come buy so you can feel good. See Celebriity Goodlife? Come get your version, come buy.

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(That is not just merely a symbolic picture to make a point that I am sharing. That picture is of the "controversial" shoes that were actually designed by Adidas. They have shackles on them, notice the shackles are "gold". Not cool at all, right? Yet, how true is it? )

I tend to think that Walter was not being illogical nor overly materialistic. He actually sounded like an economist, political scientist or social scientist who was breaking things down in a very simple way. After being asked by Mama about why he speaks so much of money, Walter tells his Mama "because it is life". Mama says that she remembers a time when freedom used to be life. However, let us all be as real with ourselves as we can possibly be, if only for only a minute.

I know that a lot of our people love to speak about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but those things were not at all written with our freedom in mind. Many of the writers were slaveholders moaning about being oppressed by the king. Whining about tyranny as human beings in the so called "New World" that they'd hijacked from the indigenous Americans were being bred, sold, and slaughtered like cattle. The inalienable rights (it is unalienable in the more original draft) rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" (oh or was it the synonym here for happiness, property?) Are not these things the very foundation of "The American Dream"?

Walter didn't remind specifically remind Mama about how for their ancestors who were victims of slavery, MONEY was their best chance for freedom. If freedom were to be attained, it was to be either bought or taken (yes, one would have to steal him or herself. Imagine that. You are property and your running away for the purpose of the pursuit of "freedom" is considered an act of theft.) So Mama said that freedom used to be life and Walter said, "It was always money, Mama. We just didn't know about it" is a very rational statement. It is a realization that many of us have not yet seem to grasp in terms of economics/politics.

Am I condoning the order of the day? Nah, I'm simply reading the menu out loud and noticing that the order of today was the order of yesterday and the days before that. The menu has never changed, just the way in which the dish has been prepared.

Also about the generational differences, I don't think that what Walter and Mama are worlds apart in their desires. Mama wants a better life for her family and Walter wants the same. While Mama, having come from a point which is much closer to the boiling pot, might feel that moving to the pot of very hot (but not boiling) water is freedom, Walter is not satisfied with such a move. He doesn't feel that he should have to be satisfied with that, he feels that there is more than the pot of hot water that he is in... He is like a fish in a Ziplock bag within a sea, swimming back and forth in the confines of this little plastic bag as he watches, from his bag, a world of other fish swim freely in the sea. Mama, in her plastic bag remembers a time when the plastic bag was much smaller and was overcrowded by other fish, no room to swim freely and oh how she and all the other fish in that bag just wanted to be able to swim freely. Now that Mama has a plastic bag of her own and her children have plastic bags of their own to be able to swim freely in, she thanks the Lord for that. Meanwhile, Walter swims back and forth in his plastic bag, not at all satisfied with his lot in life. There is more..and he sees it everyday, all in his face, but he cannot touch it. If only he could break that bag, he could be free... Which fish is wrong? I don't know if that either fish is wrong and furthermore, I don't know that the answer is so simple.

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