James Hicks
August Wilsonís Black Men: Power Struggle vs. Many Foes

August Wilson is a playwright who is currently undertaking the task of writing a play about African-American life for each decade of the 20th Century. In the plays that Wilson has written so far, there are several issues that are key to his dramatization of the African-American culture as he knows it. My project is divided into sections that deal with relationships, violence, and money. Even though Wilson dramatizes issues in life that transcend racial boundaries, he manages to make the ways that the men in his plays deal with these issues distinctly African-American. The men in Wilsonís plays are asserting their manhood in a society that has a history of stripping that manhood through slavery, post-slavery oppression, and prison, all of which are examined in my project. Many of Wilsonís men behave in ways that are destructive to things such as family and relationships, but a few are able to avoid such behavior. Some men look for power through asserting their dominance through crime, particularly robbery and violence. Robbery is directly related to another avenue of power that some men in Wilsonís plays lack legal access to: money. Wilson explores what he understands part of the African-American culture to be and how it may have come to be the way he understands it to be.