As I sit and wait for President Obama to speak at the Lincoln Memorial in honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech; and as I watch woman after woman and man after man—black and white alike—stand to speak before the president arrives, I think about the plight of women back when the story of Judah and Tamar took place.
Briefly, my thoughts are this:
- How in the world did Tamar find the amazing strength it took to stand for what was right?
- How in the world did Tamar live with herself knowing she had to seduce her father-in-law to accomplish this?
- How in the world did Tamar manage to stay clear-headed enough to bargain Yehuda’s symbols of power away from him before agreeing to have sex with him?
- Did Tamar ever question her own choices?
- Did Tamar ever wish she had not married Yehuda’s son, Er, or Onan?
- Did Tamar ever feel bitter about being a woman in a society that treated women as incapable of being in charge?
These are the types of questions I ask of myself as my co-writer, Michael Silversher, and I continue to tear our way through the Judah and Tamar story from Genesis 38. I want to write as though listening to her thoughts, as though feeling her feelings, as though dreaming her dreams.
Tamar’s Dream in this Judah and Tamar Story
Yes, Tamar had a dream way back then, long before the times of slavery that enveloped her children and grandchildren, long before they were set free, long before the United States existed and long before African Americans or women of any color ever got the right to vote. She learned how to take things into her own hands, she learned how to put her bitterness aside, she learned how to move the “mountains” that stood in her way.
I feel like I am becoming infused with her spirit, her determination, her power to overcome. I feel like I am dreaming my own dream and hooking it the strength of all those who have paved and continue to pave the way for true freedom to exist throughout the world, including the Middle East and all places where women are still treated like less than a cow or a sheep.
This Judah and Tamar story is infused with the dream of Tamar. As Michael and I continue to plow through the many choices that present themselves in the telling of this story, I know that Tamar’s dream is inextricably linked to the “I have a dream” message that President Obama will present on this day as we in America (and around the world) celebrate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s timeless “I have a dream” speech.