Gloria T. Hull
Sometime around the 1920s, the multitalented black woman writer Alice Dunbar-Nelson scripted a three-act play called Gone White. 1 The hero is Allan Franklin Cordell, a fair-skinned, light-haired young black man who graduated at the head of his civil engineering class but is not employed because of his race. The heroine is Anna Martin, his beautiful brown- complexioned sweetheart, who has sacrificed her life to caring for a cranky old grandmother and a crippled orphan nephew. At great pain to herself, Anna cruelly spurns Allan and sends him off to success passing as a white man in the white world. When they chance to meet one night years later-- after her wearing life of poverty and his of ease as a Rotarian businessman-- their old love flares and they decide to finally be together, leaving behind her husband and responsibilities, his wife, wealth, and standing. In the sobering next day's lights, however, Allan instead proposes that they should simply ignore "conventions, man-made laws" and "love" each other. Anna snaps to fury in the longest speech of the play:
You are offering me the position of your mistress. You are giving me the wonderful opportunity of having a secret liaison with you. You love me, but you love your position in the world of white men more. . . . You would keep your white wife, and all that that means, for respectability's sake--but you would have a romance, a liaison with the brown woman whom you love, after dark. No Negro could stoop so low as to take on such degraded ideals of so-called racial purity. And this is the moral deterioration to which you have brought your whole race. White Man! Go on back to your white gods! Lowest and vilest of scum. White Man! Go Back!