When I sat down to write LUCK, I faced a major hurdle in that I knew nothing about ghost buying. Google searches came up empty. There was much more on redlining-when realtors would draw red lines on a city map and refuse to sell to black people depending on where within the lines they wanted to buy. Banks had similar practices in regards to mortgages. Since I was writing LUCK as a commission, with a due date and pay date, I felt I couldn't spend years looking for needles, so to speak. I needed to find inspiration someplace other than the library, which was new to me and daunting. I've found that with black history and black plays, as a black writer I feel a deep responsibility to get the history correct so a theater or an audience is not able to say "that didn't happen, that history is invalid". With ghost buying there was no "proof". Even experts were claiming there was no "proof". I was stuck.
So I began to examine what I did have as the basis of a play: I had a family who wanted a house and a family willing to help buy this house, and I started with that. A house and family got me thinking about the idea of the American dream...the idea that if you just work hard enough and try hard enough, you should be able to provide a home for your family. But often, if you are "other"-poor, of color, what-have-you-then hard work and wanting it badly just won't work if there are forces conspiring against you.
It was also 2006. I am horrible at math, but around this time was when mortgages were being handed out like crazy. My husband and I would have these conversations that circled around the idea of what owning a house does and does not mean. Many of my friends were buying their first homes at the time and I was struck by the huge cultural push occurring: what a house symbolizes in a culture that often romanticizes what it means to be middle class. I became interested in what it means to participate in this brand of the American dream and what it means if you are unable to participate. What compromises are you willing to make with yourself for even the promise of participation?
At the time I was pregnant with my first child and my husband and I were searching for the right place to raise our own family, and so I also began thinking about how the American dream correlates with that, with building a family. I was also interested in how that relates to race and class. I grew up in Arlington, went to several very good schools, more than one of which was private, and so I am more than slightly obsessed with recognizing how race and class intersect-and they always do in America, even when there are no "others" around. Each couple in the play is struggling with how to create a family when forces around it are making it increasingly difficult to do so easily.
Kirsten Greenidge is the author of LUCK OF THE IRISH.