More than 300 theater artists - black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) - published a letter addressed to “White American Theater” decrying racial injustice in their industry online on Monday.
The letter begins with "We see you. We have always seen you. We have watched you pretend not to see us." It addresses concerns about nonprofit organizations, labor unions, and programming within the theater industry; “We have watched you program play after play, written, directed, cast, choreographed, designed, acted, dramaturged and produced by your rosters of white theatermakers for white audiences."
With Broadway and most other American theatres closed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement comes while most theater artists are unemployed. It also comes at a time of unrest within the United States following the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd. As the discussion of racism within the United States has intensified, many black theater artists have taken to social media to describe their experiences of racism. The letter continues, "You are all a part of this house of cards built on white fragility and supremacy and this is a house that will not stand.”
In conclusion, there is a call to action; "This ends TODAY" demanding for a more equitable and safe space for all BIPOC inside of American Theatre. "We See You, White American Theater," has been signed by Cynthia Erivo, Viola Davis, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lynn Nottage, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lauren Yee, Leslie Odom Jr., Lindsay Mendez, Leah C Gardiner, Katori Hall, Eden Espinosa, Ruthie Ann Miles, Issa Rae, Jacob Padrón, and Liesl Tommy, and more.
Sign the petition at Change.org and read the full statement at weseeyouwat.com.