Where does a character from Fences speak for August Wilson on an African-American issue?  

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The play opens with a preface that speaks to the special/specific cultural experiences of African Americans. Also in the opening scene, Troy and Bono discuss the issue of unfair promotion practices at their place of work. 

Troy recounts the conversation he had with the management of the company as to why only white men are promoted and allowed to drive the garbage trucks. 

Troy asks, "Why you got all the white mens driving and the colored lifting?"

Troy is not satisfied with the answer he received, which was "take it to the union."

Telling Bono about the principle of his complaint, Troy says, "All I want them to do is change the job description. Give everybody a chance to drive the truck." The issue is one of unfair labor practices that discriminate against African Americans (and in favor of whites). 

Later, Troy makes claims about similar discrimination practices in professional baseball. 

We should be careful to note here that Fences is perhaps not as polemical in substance as it might seem on the surface. Wilson's play features a main character that rails against a system of discrimination and unfair policies, but he does so - at least in part - as a way to excuse his own failures and to evade guilt and/or responsibility. 

Troy does get promoted to the position of driver. When he does, we find out that he has no driver's license. Troy repeatedly claims that he was qualified for the big leagues of professional baseball, but Rose disagrees and points out that Troy was too old to play in the big leagues after getting out of prison (Act I: iii). By blaming the prejudice of the system, Troy attempts to gloss over his own role in determining the course of his life. 

"It is easier for Troy to blame a system that discriminates against black players than to admit that he lacked either the talent or the youth to play major league baseball" (eNotes). 

The fact that Troy does not have a license does not diminish or erase the seriousness of his claims that the workplace practices unfair promotion policies. The fact that Troy is dishonest about his own chances at playing major league baseball does not falsify his argument about discrimination in professional sports. The result of this combination of facts is a complex image of how an individual's response to life's challenges (race-related and otherwise) can become a psychological knot of resistance and resentment and self-exoneration. 

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