The New York Times: Racism and theatre, then and now
Posted by: AnObserver 08:01 pm EDT 11/05/22

Here's a portion of an opinion piece in the NYT by a BLACK writer, John McWhorter. I can't put the link, but if you want to find it, it's from November 1 and its title is the title of this post. You may need to read the entire article for the penultimate paragraph to make sense.

He mentions the "movement" that calls itself We See You, White American Theatre.

"I see you, too, white theater. You’ve made a lot of progress since the 1980s. You are not at the end of your road to enlightenment. But the idea that in 2022 nonwhite theater performers are mired in a sociologically clueless profession racially abusing them at every turn is a melodramatic exaggeration, and I know plenty of theater performers of color who agree with me.

The issue with all of these cases is that the claims of racism are, quite simply, forced. It almost seems as if the claimants are seeking something to be indignant about, out of a sense that this makes them progressive, morally advanced people. But it is unclear what purpose this kind of performative and circular hypersensitivity serves.

To look upon these new claims with skepticism is not about being in denial about racism but about assessing Black people with common sense, assuming that we are, or at least should be, as capable of acknowledging progress and making intelligent distinctions as anyone else.

To wit: These days, the Black kid sitting in the wings for no reason but his skin color should call out the racism. Sometimes I wish I had said something back in the 1980s. But here and now: non-Black people of color mad that they weren’t consulted about Black American slavery? Calling it racist that a white actor is reluctant to snarl a slur too crisply? Calling it an affront to mental health to have white bigots use the N-word in a play about the Freedom Riders?

Folks, this is less antiracism than performance. The people indulging in it would serve themselves and all of us better by channeling the performative impulse into their work."

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