The Complexities of Religion Within Family
Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in The Sun is unquestionably a work that tackled numerous themes presenting issues in that time, many of which remain relevant and applicable 63 years after the play's Broadway debut. These themes include but are not limited to the Black experience, familial ties, religion, and personal dreams.
But I particularly connected with the depiction of one theme and the character who catalyzed it. Beneatha, an educated woman with a very strong and independent mind that demands to be heard, learns the marvels of science in school and questions aloud to her mother why God receives the credit for things man has worked to understand. For her outspokenness, she receives a slap across the face and is told, essentially, to never speak that way again in her mother’s house.
This representation of religion and the awfulness it can bring about when family members disagree is something I really associated with my own experience in life. I grew up kind of as the “black sheep” of the family- I knew from a very young age that I held different ideas from my relatives. I have always been extremely curious, and I would find myself often shushed or scolded if I asked a question that made God out to be less than the all-knowing original creator they believed him to be. If I stood up for people of color, LGBT people, or anything they deemed “wrong- I was ostracized and shunned. And the worst thing I ever did in their eyes was fall in love with someone transgender, for which I was severely punished.
Thus, I felt a strong sense of identity with Beneatha’s character. I felt as though I understood where she was coming from- I, too, saw the marvels of science and reasoned that it was not created by a God, but born and perfected over millions of years and then worked to understanding by modern humans. And like her, again, I am often silenced by my family when expressing these things aloud.