A Little Play


W.E.B. Du Bois


March 1, 1914

Time: Now.

Place: Here.

Enter the Pale One and the Brown One, dressed alike, speaking English, but coming from opposite entrances.

The Pale One: “Colored people are dirty, ignorant, lazy, poor and rude. Until they become clean, intelligent, thrifty, well to do and polite they must expect to be treated badly.”

The Brown One: “Are all colored people dirty, ignorant, lazy and rude? If so, I am colored and therefore I must be—”

The Pale One: “Oh, no! I mean most colored people; or at any rate some colored people.”

The Brown One: “And therefore should all colored people be treated badly, or only the dirty and ignorant and lazy and poor and rude?”

The Pale One: “Only the dirty and ignorant and—”

The Brown One: “And is it only dirty, ignorant, lazy, poor and rude colored folk who are to be badly treated?”

The Pale One: “Certainly not. All people who are dirty, ignorant, lazy, poor and rude must expect bad treatment.”

The Brown One: “And has history proven that ‘bad treatment’ is the best cure for dirt, ignorance, poverty and rudeness, or is bad treatment their cause?”

The Pale One: “I can’t go into that. At present they are treated badly.”

The Brown One: “They surely are. And now, finally, how shall I be treated?”

The Pale One: “You shan’t marry my sister.”

The Brown One: “I don’t want to; but to return to the subject—”

The Pale One: “You are seeking social equality!”

The Brown One: “If that means I’m seeking decent treatment—”

The Pale One: “You belong to an inferior race!”

The Brown One: “For Heaven’s sake—”

The Pale One: “Oh, bother!”

Exit the Pale One in anger.

Exit the Brown One in thought.


For attribution, please cite this work as:
Du Bois, W.E.B. 1914. “A Little Play.” The Crisis 7 (5): 241. https://www.dareyoufight.org/Volumes/07/05/a_little_play.html.