Building Fences…

On The Dialogue from Fences (The Movie)

“Like you? I go out of here every morning… bust my butt…putting up with them… everyday…cause I like you? You about the biggest fool I ever saw. It’s my JOB. It’s my RESPONSIBILITY! You understand that? A man got to take care of his family. You live in my house… sleep on my bed clothes…fill you belly up with my food… cause you my son. You my flesh and blood. Not ‘cause I like you! Cause it’s my duty to take care of you. I OWE a responsibility to you! Let’s get this straight right here… before it go along any further… I ain’t got to like you. Mr. Rand don’t five me money come payday cause he likes me. He gives me cause he OWE me. I done give you everything I had to give you. I gave you your life! Me and your mama worked that out between us. And liking your black ass wasn’t part of the bargain. Don’t try and go through life worrying about if somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they doing right by you. You understand what I’m saying, boy?” August Wilson, Fences, 1986.

Before I get started, I want to say I really enjoyed both the movies Fences and Hidden Figures. They have been nominated for, and have already won, several awards. Each movie tackles a different issue that African Americans dealt with in the past. Some still today. It doesn’t mean that the issues are race specific but the struggles of our forefathers have definitely shaped this country.

Back to the movie Fences, it’s an adaptation of a play by August Wilson wrote in 1986. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on a couple of his plays in Atlanta, as a part of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre. There was a part of the movie, towards the middle, that caught my attention. The main character, Troy, and his son were at odds. His son wanted him to love him so badly. I could feel his pain. So many times I’ve seen this play out in real life.

First, we ask questions. We ask questions out of curiosity to help get an idea of why certain things keep happening. It’s normal to ask questions and don’t ever let someone make you feel otherwise. How else do you expect to learn something new?

Then, we get emotional. We get emotional when things don’t go our way. We get emotional because we don’t understand something. The truth is we are emotional beings. We’re human. Emotions are normal. It’s ok to cry. It’s ok, sometimes, to not be ok. Like we find with Troy, he was not ok. He started to build a fence around his home. He built a fence around his heart. He’d been through so much that he did what he felt he needed to do to protect himself and his family.

Too often people, like Troy, don’t know how to love because of the hand they’ve been dealt. As mentioned in the movie, some people build fences to keep people in. Some people build fences to keep people out. Don’t ever take it personal. It takes years to repair damage from years of wrong thinking, abuse, neglect, abandonment and so on. How dare you think it will be repaired over night.

Hope this helps someone!


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