copyright © 2001 Clinton A. Johnston

Taking Sides


Clinton A. Johnston



Shanté — college educated black woman in her 20s.


The Scene

[Shanté stands center stage. She is upset and angry. She starts with a low burn and rises to the peak points marked in the script. After each peak (except for the last) she comes down a little before continuing.]



When are we taught to hate?

When are we taught to draw lines and take sides and take things from each other?

Well last Wednesday, I came to a conclusion. I concluded that I am tired of it. I am tired of white women taking things from me.

Don’t act all shocked, like you don’t know what I’m talking about, like I don’t know what it’s like to be the lowest person on the totem poll? That’s right. It’s a fact. We come from queens and kings who built the concept of civilization, but you cannot get any lower in the eyes of this society than a black woman. For instance, did you know that the majority of people who receive assistance under the Aid to Families with Dependant Children program or "AFDC" or more popularly "welfare" are white? Yes, that’s right. Most of welfare is going to white women — white women all over the country living in urban, rural, and suburban areas. But every time someone tries to bust on welfare, every time some politician seeks to engender hate and disrespect, who do they show? Some sister in a city project with four kids by three different fathers. Why do they do that? Because they know what we know, that nobody is lower on the unwritten social ladder than me and my sisters.

So, to return to my Wednesday epiphany, if I’m so low, why do you want to take what little I have? You take our fashion. You take the way we talk. You take our attitude. You even take our hairstyles. People act like Bo Derek invented corn rolls. You try us on like a jacket you see in the mall and then drop us when you want to dress upscale. This is my stuff, not yours! This is my life and my culture! It is not there for you to dip into and play with whenever you get the notion. Oh, and for all of you music lovers, I hate to break it to you but Christina Aquilera is Hispanic; Mariah Carey is half black; and no matter what, my girl Aaliyah will always kick Britney Spears’s ass just by getting up in the morning.


Take that and leave my boyfriend alone!

Last Wednesday, my boyfriend, Ty comes to tell me that he and "my so-called best friend Stacy" have "developed feelings for each other". I said what about your feelings for me? And he says that’s all over. He says he thinks Stacy can take him places that I can’t. I told him it sounds like he wants a real estate agent. That boy had the nerve to tell me I’m too angry and I don’t trust people enough. I said, well I’m sorry seeing as there’s obviously nothing to support not trusting your lying ass. You better go ahead and run to your little white girl who’s too afraid to call you the shiftless nigger you are.

But, we will leave him behind for a moment. Don’t worry. He will get his. I want to focus on her.

She saw me Thursday, turns around and runs away all crying and everything. It’s a good thing she ran. I would have given Little Miss Ally McBeel something to cry about.

What kind of low, trifling, hair-dye, piece of white trash sticks her skinny little ass in my business. He was my man! Truth be told, he wasn’t much, but he was mine! Now, it’s hard, it is so hard, to find a halfway decent brother to spend time with. On top of that, I’ve got to worry about some white chick pulling him away every time she catches a little bit of jungle fever! Dammit, I was almost done breaking him in! Now what am I going to do with him once you’ve used him up and tossed him aside? You’re gonna’ take what you want, but why do you want him? [Peak — near tears] Can’t you at least leave us our men?

[Pulls herself together a little before continuing.]

I have been so upset.

I called my mother. I said, "I cannot talk to her. So help me, if I see her, I will go off on this woman."

And then my mother, who has always been there for me, my mother said, "Well, I’m sorry for you, honey, but I might not be the person to talk to about this."

I said, "What do you mean?"

And she said, "Well, you know that your father was going out with your Aunt Yvonne before he was going out with me. And it wasn’t a clean break. Baby, he left Yvonne to be with me, and it was years before she would speak to either of us again, not until you and your brother were born. Now, I want to be there for you, baby; it’s a terrible thing. But maybe you’d get more out of talking to your aunt."

I said, "But that’s different. That’s you and Daddy. This is some skinny, little, white bitch who just wants to see what the ride’s like in the back of the bus."


And then she said, "Shanté … what does her being white have anything to do with this? Now, I know you’re upset. I wouldn’t take that from you for the world. That’s yours and you got it honestly. But it wouldn’t matter if you all were Japanese, Cherokee, or Egyptian. Your best friend is going out with your boyfriend. Your colors are not the issue here. Where did you learn that? You know we taught you better than that."

[If you’re not building to the ending breakdown, better start now.]

And I said, "But Momma. You and Daddy were in love. They’re just fooling around. She’s just playing with him! It’s not love. It can’t be love! [Biggest peak] It just can’t be!"


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