The Women of Brewster Place (1989 TV Movie)
Etta Mae: [re babies] All yours. Built-in heartache for the next twenty years!
Mattie Michael: [reprovingly] Etta...
Etta Mae: Now me, when I want ready-made trouble, I dig up a handsome man. No diapers to change, and I walk when I'm ready.
Mattie Michael: [referring to Etta's Mae's flirtation with Reverend Woods] If you had batted your eyelashes any faster, we'd have had a dust storm up in there.
Etta Mae: You said you wanted me to meet some nice men. Well, I met one.
Mattie Michael: Etta, I meant a man who'd be serious about settling down with you. Why, you're going on like a schoolgirl. Can't you see what he's got in mind?
Etta Mae: [in a cold yet angry tone] The only thing I see is that you're telling me I'm not good enough for a man like that. Oh, no, not Etta Johnson. No upstanding decent man could ever see anything in her but a quick good time. Well, I'll tell you something Mattie Michael. I've always traveled first class, maybe not in the way you'd approve of with all your fine Christian principles, but it's done all right by me. And I'm gonna keep top drawer till I leave this earth. Don't you think I got a mirror? Each year there's a new line to cover. I lay down with this body and get up with it every morning. And each morning it cries for just a little more rest than it did the day before. Well, I'm finally gonna get that rest and it's going to be with a man like Reverend Woods. And you and the rest of those slack-mouthed gossips be damned! They'll be humming a different tune when I show up there the wife of a big preacher. I've always known what they say about me behind my back, but I never thought you were right in there with them.
Mattie Michael: [Etta Mae flirtatiously accepts an invitation to dance] Woman, you better stay here and act your age.
Etta Mae: Ooh, I'm acting it. 35!
Mattie Michael: Hm! You've got regrets older than that.
Mattie Michael: Ciel, I promise you, if you leave this world, it'll be over my dead body!
Mattie Michael: Ain't that the story. Colored folks try to do a little something, somebody come along and throw up a wall.
Kiswana: Well, why don't you do something about it?
Mattie Michael: What I'm supposed to do? I could tear down this wall with my bare hands; they'd just send somebody in the next day to put it up again.
Kiswana: But at least you would have done something!
Mattie Michael: Ain't no use. You're young. You'll see what I mean.
Kiswana: No, I won't. That's the difference between you and me.
Ciel: [while sobbing intensely] I ain't got nothing to live for, Mattie!
Mattie Michael: [wraps arms around Ciel] That ain't true, baby. You got youself. You got yourself.
Theresa: Lorraine, you're a lesbian. Do you understand that word? A butch, a dyke, a lesbo, all those things that kid was shouting. Yes, I heard him! And you can run in all the basements in the world, and it won't change that, so why don't you accept it?
Lorraine: [angrily] I have accepted it! I've accepted it all my life, and it's nothing I'm ashamed of. I lost a father because I refused to be ashamed of it, but it doesn't make me different from anyone else in the world!
Theresa: It makes you damned different!
Lorraine: [jerking open bottom drawer of her dresser and pulling out her underwear] Do you see this? There are two things that have been constant in my life since I was sixteen years old: beige bras and oatmeal. The day before I first fell in love with a woman, I got up, had oatmeal for breakfast, and put on a beige bra. I was no different the day before or after that happened, Tee.
Theresa: And what did you do when you went to school that next day, Lorraine? Did you stand around the gym locker and swap stories with the other girls about this new love in your life, huh? While they were bragging about their boyfriends and the fifty dozen ways they had lost their virginity, did you jump in and say, 'Oh, but you should have seen the one I gave it up to last night?' Huh? Did you? Did you?
[grabbing Lorraine's underwear]
Theresa: You with your beige bras and oatmeal! Why didn't you stand in that locker room and pass around a picture of this great love in your life?
Lorraine: [quietly] Because they wouldn't have understood.
Theresa: That's right! There go your precious 'theys' again. They wouldn't undertand, not in Detroit, not on Brewster Place, not anywhere! And as long as they own the whole damn world, it's them and us, Sister! Them and us. And that spells different!
Fannie Michael: [having grabbed a shotgun after witnessing her husband beat Mattie] So help me Jesus, Sam! Hit my child again, and I'll meet you soul in hell!
Kiswana: Melanie, what help are you going to be to these people on Brewster while you're living hand-to-mouth on file-clerk jobs waiting for a revolution? You're wasting your talents, child.
Mrs. Browne: Well, I don't think they're being wasted. At least I'm here in day-to-day contact with my people. What good would I be after four or five years of a lot of white brainwashing in some phony, prestige institution, huh? I'd be like you and Daddy and those other educated blacks sitting over there in Linden Hills with a terminal case of middle-class amnesia.
Mrs. Browne: You don't have to live in a slum to be concerned about social conditions, Melanie. Your father and I have been charter members of the NAACP for the last twenty-five years.
Kiswana: [rolling her eyes] Oh, God! THAT'S being concerned? That middle-of-the-road, Uncle Tom dumping ground for Black Republicans!
Mrs. Browne: You can sneer all you want, young lady, but that organization has been working for black people since the turn of the century, and it's still working for them. Where are all those radical groups of yours that were going to put a Cadillac in every garage and Dick Gregory in the White House? I'll tell you where. They burned themselves out because they wanted too much too fast. Their goals weren't grounded in reality. And that's always been your problem.
Kiswana: What do you mean, my problem? I know exactly what I'm about.
Mrs. Browne: No, you don't. You constantly live in a fantasy world, always going to extremes, turning butterflies into eagles, and life isn't about that. It's accepting what is and working from that. Lord, I remember how worried you had me, putting all that lacquered hair spray on your head. I thought you were going to get lung cancer, trying to be what you're not.
Kiswana: [in a frustrated tone] Oh, God, I can't take this anymore. Trying to be something I'm not, trying to be something I'm not, Mama? Trying to be proud of my heritage and the fact that I was of African descent. If that's being what I'm not then I say fine. But I'd rather be dead than be like you: a white man nigger who's ashamed of being black!
Mrs. Browne: [grabs Kiswana and stares into her eyes, speaking fiercely] My grandmother was a full-blooded Iroquois, and my grandfather a free black from a long line of journeymen who had lived in Connecticut since the establishment of the colonies. And my father was a Bajan who came to this country as a cabin boy on a merchant mariner.
Kiswana: [quietly] I know all that.
Mrs. Browne: [squeezing Kiswana even tighter] Then, know this. I am alive because of the blood of proud people who never scraped or begged or apologized for what they were. They lived asking for only one thing of this world: to be allowed to be. And I learned through the blood of these people that black isn't beautiful and it isn't ugly; black is! It's not kinky hair and it's not straight hair; it just is. It broke my heart when you changed your name. I gave you my grandmother name, a woman who bore nine children and educated them all, who held off six white men with a shotgun when they tried to drag one of her sons to jail for 'not knowing his place.' Yet you needed to reach into an African dictionary to make you proud. When I brought my babies home from the hospital, my ebony son and my golden daughter, I swore before whatever gods would listen, those of my mother's people or those of my father's people, that I would use everything I had and could ever get to see that my children were prepared to meet this world on its own terms, so that on one could sell them short and make them ashamed of what they were or how they looked, whatever they were or however they looked. And Melanie, that's not being white or red or black. That's being a mother.
Kiswana: [while examining one of Cora Lee's children, who has just injured himself] There's a big knot coming up on the side of his head; maybe we should take him...
Cora Lee: It'll go down.
[after seeing the expression on Kiswana's face]
Cora Lee: Look, if I ran to the hospital every time one of these kids bumps their heads or scrapes their knee, I'd spend the rest of my life in those emergency rooms.
Mattie Michael: [rocking in a chair and sewing] So, trusting you stay out of jail, what you intend to do now?
Etta Mae: I guess I could get a couple thousand for the car. That'll tide me over until my next... business opportunity comes along.
Mattie Michael: You and your business opportunities. Why don't you just settle down and get yourself a regular job?
Etta Mae: A job doing what? What kind of experience I got? Nothing that's gonna get me a regular job.
Mattie Michael: You don't know that.
Etta Mae: I do know it. And why're you on me?
[Goes over to where Mattie is and takes a drink]
Etta Mae: I ain't heard nothin' about you working.
Mattie Michael: Child, what'd I got to work for? Them days is behind me.
Etta Mae: Oh, Mattie. I don't need no job.
[Sits down in a chair beside Mattie]
Etta Mae: What I need is to find me a good man and live quietly in my old age.
Mattie Michael: Uh huh. So where you planning on finding a "good man"?
Etta Mae: That's the part I gotta figure out
[They giggle a little]
Etta Mae: Problem is, only decent men are either dead or waiting to be born.
Mattie Michael: Why don't you go to meeting with me tonight?
Etta Mae: What you gonna do? Pray me up a man?
Mattie Michael: There's a few decent, civil-minded men in our church. Widowers and such.
[Mattie gets up and walks across the room]
Mattie Michael: Beside, a little prayer wouldn't hurt your soul a bit.
Etta Mae: I'll thank you to leave my soul out of this.
[Mattie faces her]
Etta Mae: Besides, if your church got all those fine, decent men, how come you ain't snapped one yet?
Mattie Michael: Child, I done banked them fires a long time ago, seeing as how you still keeping up steam.