FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Fly on Nicholas Kristof’s Wall

(Nicholas Kristof is in his study. He is at work on his New York Times’ column. Calls in his black maid, Betsy. She’s about fifty-five. Slender. Wears church hats on Sunday. Has a son and daughter in college. She and her husband, a parking lot attendant, saved money to send them there. Favorite dessert is sweet potato pie. Her favorite song is “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” sung by Aretha Franklin.)

Kristof: Betsy, would you come in here a minute?

Betsy: (She’s waxing the kitchen floor. Rises. Exasperated.)

What he want now? I bet I know. (Enters his study.) Yes, Mr. Kristof.

Kristof: As you know, Betsy, I have been traveling around the world in my quest to save humanity. Giving my advice to the poor on how they can take responsibility for their actions. As when I told the men in the Congo that they can improve the lives of their wives and children by refraining from whoring, drinking and smoking. For my advice I often get called sanctimonious, haughty and callous.

Betsy: They wrong. You a good man, Mr. Kristof.

Kristof: Today I’ve decided to teach my fellow whites about how to relate to black people. Don’t you think that’s noble? Aren’t they lucky?

Betsy:  (Talking to herself) White people? His hair is nappier than mine.

(Talking to Kristof) I have to finish waxing the kitchen floor Mr. Kristof. Why did you call me?

Kristof: Oh, of course. In my effort to educate white people, I wanted to ask you a question?

Betsy: Here he go again.

Kristof: Do you think that race relations have improved in forty years?

Betsy: (My sister’s son is in prison for possessing one stick of marijuana. My brother’s home was foreclosed. My neighborhood has been taken over by these young white people. They don’t clean up their dogs’ poop. If I tell him what he want to hear, maybe I can get back to work). I think things have definitely improved. Why twenty years ago us maids had to run and catch the sundown bus back home or get arrested. It looked like the Olympics. I’d be all out of breath. Now I can drive my car up here.

Kristof: Thank you Betsy I just have a couple of more questions. Then you can return to your chores.

( Instead of returning to her chores, BETSY sticks her chin out folds her arms and puts her foot down.)

Betsy: Mr. Kristof!

Krisftof: Yes, Betsy.

Betsy: Whenever you write about colored people, you always be saying that your black frins say this and your black frins told you that. Mr. Kristof I’m the black frin you be referring to in your columns. My daughter who is in college say that you and Mr. Roth should pay me a- a- a consultant’s fee. Mr. Roth even made me a character in one of his novels where the man axed the maid’s feelings about Black Studies. I told Mr. Roth that we’d run out of milk. He said that the maid, who was me, said that Black History is like sour milk. I don’t want to have to be like the maid in The Help. The white girl what wrote it kept all the money and didn’t give the colored maid nothin’. I ain’t no fool, Mr. Kristof.

Kristof: Now Betsy. What gave you that idea? Why I’m the friend of minorities. I’m always defending them against Rev. David Brooks who believes that black people are vulgar. He tries to give black people moral lessons too, but he’s a little heavy handed. He doesn’t have my charm. Why…why I even married a minority.

(BETSY removes her apron and gloves puts on her coat and scarf.)

Kristof: Betsy where are you going? You’re supposed to work until five.

Betsy: I’m going to Manhattan. Get me a job with The New York Times.

Kristof: But…but… You didn’t graduate from Harvard.

Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch.  He can be reached at IshmaelReed.org.

© 2014 by Ishmael Reed

 

 

More articles by:

Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
Nyla Ali Khan
Spectacles of the Demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh and the Revocation of the Autonomous Status of Kashmir
Stansfield Smith
Celebrating 50 Years of Venceremos Brigade solidarity with the Cuban Revolution
Tim Butterworth
Socialism Made America Great
Nick Licata
Profiles in Courage: the Tories Have It, the Republicans Don’t
Abel Prieto
Cubanness and Cuban Identity: the Importance of Fernando Ortiz
Robert Koehler
Altruists of the World Unite!
Mel Gurtov
Farewell, John Bolton
Weekend Edition
September 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Age of Constitutional Coups
Rob Urie
Bernie Sanders and the Realignment of the American Left
Anthony DiMaggio
Teaching the “War on Terror”: Lessons for Contemporary Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: They Are the Walrus
T.J. Coles
Jeremy Corbyn: Electoral “Chicken” or Political Mastermind?
Joseph Natoli
The Vox Populi
Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Pirates of Gibraltar
John Feffer
Hong Kong and the Future of China
David Rosen
The Likely End to Roe v. Wade?
Ishmael Reed
When You Mess With Creation Myths, the Knives Come Out
Michael Hudson
Break Up the Democratic Party?
Paul Tritschler
What If This is as Good as It Gets?
Jonah Raskin
Uncensored Tony Serra: Consummate Criminal Defense Lawyer
Ryan Gunderson
Here’s to the Last Philosophes, the Frankfurt School
Michael T. Klare
The Pompeo Doctrine: How to Seize the Arctic’s Resources, Now Accessible Due to Climate Change (Just Don’t Mention Those Words!)
Luke O'Neil
I Would Want To Drink Their Blood: God Will Punish Them
Louis Proyect
The Intellectual Development of Karl Marx
Tom Clifford
How China Sees the World
Kelsey Hawkins-Johnson – Negin Owliaei
Who’s Burning the Amazon?
Yasin Khan
Rideshare Drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
Ralph Nader
Big Business Lies Taught a Watchful Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Sacking of John Bolton
Andrea Maki
Wild Love Preserve Founder: Our Path Forward
Jeremy Kuzmarov
The War in Eastern Ukraine May be Coming to an End But Do Any Americans Care?
Tim Davis – Stan Grier
Protect the Sacred Grizzly Bear, Follow Those Who Know Grandmother Earth
Clark T. Scott
Super-Delegated and Relegated
Jim Britell
Lessons From America’s Greatest Grassroots Campaigns 
Howie Hawkins
Workers Need More Rights and Economic Democracy
Ramzy Baroud
‘Justice is Indivisible’: Screams of Israa Ghrayeb Should Be Our Wake-up Call
Jill Richardson
It’s Not About Your Straws and Your Light Bulbs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail