Silent Ties begins with a description of Missy’s home – a beautifully painted white house with a bright green door, two porches, and beautiful flowers everywhere. Later we read about Addie’s home – a sharecropper’s cottage that was once a twin to the nicely kept home across the field. But it wasn’t painted, was missing the nice back porch, had a few flowers around the property that were donated by Melanie when she split her bulbs, and a key feature was a large vegetable garden valuable to the family’s existence.
Through the years Missy often compared the interior of the two homes. Missy’s home reflected a refined image with nice furniture and painted walls. Her mother had created a home that could compete with any of the town girls. A glimpse inside Addie’s home showed walls that weren’t freshly painted, and old well worn furnishings.
These two farm families were each led by a son of James Tucker Sr. Differences in their homes highlighted the poverty of one son contrasted by the prosperity of the other. Sadly that disparity was orchestrated by Granddaddy Tucker and perpetuated by Missy’s father. However, it was more than income level that determined the standard of living. Addie’s family did not own their home. It was their financial responsibility to keep the structure livable even though it wasn’t theirs. Addie’s family couldn’t invest money that was desperately needed to survive. Paint to decorate the exterior or interior was a luxury they could not afford. But it was also an investment in property owned by the Tuckers, with no return to Addie’s family in the future. Without ownership there wasn’t a reason for personal investment.
During the period of Silent Ties limited income level and lack of loans available to people of color made it difficult to purchase property. Sadly, statistics show that both of these issues are still restricting the ability of Black Americans to live the dream of a home of their own.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana