Black and White (1978)
How do you fight a battle that has been going on since slavery days? You tackle it head-on.
The following play excerpt is all that I have of an idea that I was thinking of ‘fleshing out’ in the late 1970’s. In total that were seven pages of yellow lined paper. This is what I wrote:
Black and White (a play)
Setting: A schoolyard – Back wall shows name of school (W.R. Best Memorial) across top with chalk marks and graffiti on it (“We are Best” “Who says?” etc.) One tree shown in foreground (could be a single pole with lighting to give the impression of leaved branches).
Lighting: Rose-coloured to indicate sunset changing to dusk.
Time: Early evening (6:30).
(LARRY, a ten-year-old white roughneck is climbing the tree as the curtain opens, or rises. About halfway up the trunk, he loses his grip, falling heavily on one leg.)
(LARRY attempts to get up but, finding he cannot do so without pain, sits down, his hurt left extended.)
LARRY: Now, what do I do? Sit here ’till morning? I can’t. What’ll the guys say? I’ve gotta find a way to get home before someone finds me.
(LARRY tries to getup again, only to sink down to the ground in obvious agony.)
LARRY: (feeling his ankle) I hope it’s not busted. (musing) Here I am, the toughest kid in school, sitting on my butt, in the middle of the school yard, with a wrecked leg, and no way to hide. All this ’cause I wanted to put a caterpillar down Ronnie’s blouse. (Glancing around) Oh, oh! Here she comes!
(RONNIE, a willowy ten-year-old black girl enters the scene and approaches LARRY from the rear. LARRY, trying to appear nonchalant, picks up a branch from the ground, pulls out a pocketknife and begins to whittle.)
RONNIE: Hello, Lawrence. What are you doing?
LARRY: Don’t call me that!
RONNIE: That’s your name, isn’t it?
LARRY: Yea, but I like Larry better.
LARRY: ‘Cause it don’t sound sissy.
RONNIE: You mean, “Because it doesn’t sound like a sissy’s name.”
LARRY: Yea, right.
RONNIE: You didn’t answer my question.
LARRY: What question, Ronnie?
RONNIE: My name is Veronica.
LARRY: What’s the matter with Ronnie?
RONNIE: It sounds so coarse, vulgar; you know, common.
LARRY: Little Miss Uppity, eh? What’s the matter: ‘fraid someone will think you’re poor or something?
RONNIE: I’ll have you know that my father is very well-off financially.
LARRY: I know, I know: he’s got more bread…
RONNIE: (Interrupting) Money!
LARRY: …than my old man.
RONNIE: Father. I don’t know how anyone can speak such poor English.
LARRY: It’s easy.
RONNIE: Well, what are you doing, Lawrence?
LARRY: Larry! Larry!! Larry!!! How many times do I hafta tell you? My name is Larry, not, ugh, Lawrence.
RONNIE: Lawrence is a fine name. It means ‘laureled, poetic.”
RONNIE: Now, answer my question!
LARRY: What? Why I’m sitting here? What does it look like?
RONNIE: It looks as if you’re whittling something.
LARRY: If you knew the answer, why’d you ask the question?
RONNIE: Never mind! Didn’t anyone ever teach you manners?
LARRY: What? Like “ple-e-e-ease” and “thank you so ve-e-ry much”?
RONNIE: No, like getting up when a lady is in your presence.
LARRY: (shamefaced) I… I can’t.
RONNIE: (indignant) Why?
LARRY: Well… I was walking through the schoolyard when a UFO suddenly appeared out of nowhere. It was shaped like a silver bell with flashing lights all around its middle. I stood my ground as it came closer and closer. When it saw I wasn’t scared, it started to pull away. I tried chasing it, but I slipped on a stone and fell on my leg. The UFO got away.
RONNIE: Are you hurt?
LARRY: Oh, it’s nothing, really.
RONNIE: But you can’t get up.
LARRY: No, I can’t.
RONNIE: Let me give you a hand.
LARRY: Are you kidding? No way! No girl’s gonna help me.
RONNIE: Why not?
LARRY: What would the gang say? I’d be laughed at.
RONNIE: No, you wouldn’t.
LARRY: Yea, I would. You’d squeal, Ronnie.
RONNIE: I would not. I’ve done some dumb things in my life, too.
LARRY: Yea, like what?
[That’s all I wrote…]