A Dialogue On Race

“And coming off sponsors in five…four…three…two…and…”

Frederica Freyberg: Good evening. I’m Frederica Freyberg. Tonight National Public Television is proud to initiate a new series of one-on-one discussions that we call–”

(Cue music. Fade in title)


Freyberg: Our conversationalists this evening will be renowned African-American columnist for the Miami Herald and winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, Leonard Pitts. Engaging in conversation with him will be Howard Lime who works at an Applebee’s and who is a white person.

Lime: Euro-American

Freyberg: Pardon?

Lime: Euro-American. If he gets a capital “A” I don’t see why I get a little “w”.

Freyberg: Duly noted. Euro-American.

Lime: I’m also the assistant manager.

Freyberg: Thank you. Gentlemen–

Lime: I just thought my intro was a tad weak, in comparison, you know, what with the Pulitzer Prize mention and “renowned.”

Freyberg: If you had a Pulitzer, Mr. Lime, or something similar, I would have made sure to include it in your introduction.

Lime: I see.

Freyberg: Gentlemen–

Lime: I have an old Playboy with naked pictures of Roxanne Pulitzer in it.

Freyberg. Not equitable.

Lime: Yeah. It just sort of sprung to mind.

Freyberg: May I?

Lime: Please.

Freyberg: Gentlemen, for some time now there has been an urging from many that a dialogue on race be entered into. Tonight we’d like to take a step toward beginning that process. Mr. Lime, you may open the dialogue.

Pitts: Oh, priceless, the white guy gets to go first. Yee-hah. Here we go.

Freyberg: It doesn’t matter really who goes first. You’ll both be allowed equal time to provide commentary. But if you’d rather begin, Mr. Pitts, then please go right ahead.

PItts: I don’t want your charity, I want fairness.

Freyberg: Okay, I’ll tell you what. I have a quarter here. I’ll toss the coin in the air, Mr. Pitts, and then you call it to see who goes first.

Lime: Why does he get to call it?

Freyberg: Okay, let’s do this. You two do rock-paper-scissors to see who gets to call the coin flip.

Pitts: Ready?

Lime: Yeah.

Pitts: One, two, three–paper!

Lime: (paper) Try it again.

Pitts: One, two, three–paper!

Lime: (paper) Hm.

Freyberg: Gentlemen, one of you will need to pick something other than paper.

Pitts: Ready?

Lime: Yeah.

Pitts: One, two, three–rock!

Lime: Flamberge.

Freyberg: Mr. Lime, flamberge is not a thing in rock-paper-scissors, whatever it is.

Lime: It’s a wavy sword. And you eliminated one of the elements thus requiring me to come up with a substitution. Flamberge. Represented by the middle finger extending straight out from the fist, as just demonstrated.

Freyberg: Yes, we noted that. Demonstration aside, I think if you’re going to make a substitution you’d want to come up with something a bit more common so that people know what it is.

Lime: Like what?

Freyberg: I’m sure I have no idea.

Lime: Then you’re not really in a position to criticize, are you?

Frey: Okay, like fish.

Lime: How do you do fish?


(She extends open palm, perpendicular to desktop. Wiggles hand)

Lime: Okay fine, but I don’t know what fish would be better or worse than. Actually, I can’t imagine it being better than anything: rock kills fish, paper wraps fish, scissors cuts fish into fish sticks. Flamberge is a much better choice. Beats everything. Including fish.

Freyberg: Let’s try it again, keeping to the traditional rules, and approaching our process with the appropriate degree of decorum and seriousness.

Lime: I am sorry. I’m ready to proceed in an appropriate manner. Mildred.

Freyberg: I don’t know what that means.

Lime: Nothing.

Pitts: Here we go. One, two, three–paper!

Lime: Rock. What the hell! She said we’re not supposed to use paper.

Pitts: She said one of us can’t use paper.

Lime: And that made you automatically exempt?

Pitts: You could have picked scissors!

Lime: I don’t like scissors!

Freyberg: Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Hello! We are moving forward. We only have a half an hour of air time for this. Mr. Pitts won so he’s going to call the coin flip to see who goes first. And here we go. Mr. Pitts, call it in the air.

Pitts: Heads…no wait, tails!

Freyberg: And tails it is.

Lime: Whoa, whoa, whoa! He called heads first so he’s gotta go with heads.

PItts: There’s no rule that says I can’t change my mind.

Lime: It hit the ground when you changed your mind. That’s not legal. Everybody knows that.

Freyberg: Okay, I’m going to weigh in here. The coin had not settled when Mr. Pitts changed his mind, therefore it was a legal change and Mr. Pitts can open the dialogue.

Lime: Cheater.

Freyberg: Mr. Pitts, if you will.

Pitts: Mr. Lime, we live in a racially divisive time. What is critical is that divide be closed. In order to achieve that, what must happen is that acknowledgement be made by white people in regard to the damning and destructive legacy of slavery, the privilege that white people have that forces African-Americans to prove themselves twice over in order to be recognized and allowed to succeed, the rampant destruction that white superiority has done and continues to do upon the black community, and acknowledgement that the oppression of black people is an inherited trait that all white people share. Only by such acknowledgement can healing begin. In order to bring this country together, in order for there to be fairness, justice, and equality for all, white people must acknowledge these truths.

Lime: No they don’t.

Pitts: I beg your pardon?

Freyberg: Mr. Lime, did you want to perhaps expand on your response?

Lime: No…I’m good. But thank you.

Pitts: There is no doubt, there is no question, there is no debate, there is no counter-argument that Black people in America today and yesterday have been–and are–more now than ever before, the targets of the racist majority in a country with which they have been forced to exist. They are targets of the white American majority and they are targets of the racist police that have been trained and taught by that majority.

Lime: No they aren’t.

Pitts: African-Americans have little chance to get ahead as long they remain oppressed in this country. And that oppression comes in the form of institutionalized racism, which is a very, very real thing.

Lime: No it isn’t.

Pitts: Okay, I’m done. I have nothing further to say to this person on this issue.

Freyberg: O…kay. Um. We still have a lot time left. Mr.Lime, you’ve been a bit taciturn on our point of focus this evening. Perhaps there’s something further you’d like to say to Mr. Pitts, at least for the benefit of our viewing audience, that would more clearly flesh out your perspective.

Lime: Mmmm, no, I think I’ve covered my main points with as much thoroughness as is required.

Freyberg: I see. Well, okay then. I want to thank our guests for coming tonight: Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald and Howard Lime of an Applebee’s. And I’d like to thank our viewing audience and hope–

Lime: So you work for the Miami Herald, huh?

Pitts: Yes.

Lime: Do you know Dave Barry? He worked at the Miami Herald too.

PItts: Uh, actually I do. Yes.

Lime: He’s a hoot and a half, don’t you think?

PItts: Yeah, he’s pretty funny.

Freyberg: Thank you for joining us. Please tune in again next week at this same time as we continue our Dialogue On Race. I’m Frederica Freyberg. Goodnight.

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