Hattie 's Reviews > Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson
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Feb 07, 11

Recommended to Hattie by: Library book
Recommended for: All
Read in February, 2011

This is a fantastic play by August Wilson. The themes are multiple. I chose to focus on Black History on two fronts. There is the White American man's shaping of American History, and there is the shaping of Black African American History. Sadly, the American majority had more control over their history or more vegetables with which to make their stew. Therefore, there is not as much oppression in America as they faced in Europe. America became their Promised Land. African Americans had to fight and struggle to get out of slavery, get out from the second hand citizenship in order to write their History in America. Some people might believe we left our Promised Land in Africa. August Wilson likens our endeavors to grow a nation to stew and leftover stew. His metaphors and other poetic language is magnificent like a hearty stew.

"You get a stew...You take and make your history with that stew.....You can't eat it all...You got some leftovers. You already making you another history...cooking you another meal, and you don't need them leftovers no more. What to do? See, we's the leftovers. The colored man is the leftovers...The problem ain't with the white man. The white man knows you just a leftover. 'Cause he the one done the eating...But we don't know that we been took and made history out of. Done went and filled the white man's belly and now he's full and tired and wants you to get out the way and let him be by himself."

In the play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Ma Rainey, I think, plays a small part compared to the men in the play. Although she is the famous person making the big bucks, she doesn't have as much dialogue. Perhaps, this is to prove a point about the African American female in that part of American History. I would love to have more time to reread this play and rethink it. It is like stew. It's rich with carrots, meat, peas and as my father called it "corn likker." I am excited to read his next play while still thinking about this one.August Wilson
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