Things That Matter

A White Woman Is Going Viral For Saying That Broadway’s ‘Slave Play’ Is Racist Against White People

Black playwright Jeremy O. Harris’ buzzworthy Slave Play, has been both revered and abhorred by audience members. The show has received much critical acclaim after opening a month ago but a recent tirade, caught on camera, of an audience member alleging the play was racist against white people shows just how uncomfortable stories about anti-blackness and white supremacy make viewers. The broadway comedy tells the story of three interracial couples during the Antebellum-era who use slave role-playing as sexual therapy. 

Harris believes the white woman’s rant, which lasted several minutes, was merely life imitating art. The video of the woman’s confrontation went viral. Many people dismissed her expletive-filled rant as “white fragility,” according to the Washington Post. 

Harris shared the video on his own Twitter account.

Harris and an actor sat down for a Q&A after a show. That’s when the white woman got up from her seat and began shouting. She asked how the play wasn’t “racist against white people?” She claimed that there was “a whole bunch of stuff about how white people don’t get how racist they are,” in the video. 

The audience begins to murmur but Harris explains that the play is about eight people and can’t reflect every single person. He told her it was all a metaphor, and if she isn’t like the white characters in his play then good. 

“I never once said that you as a white woman were not a marginalized person,” Harris responds. “But if you heard that in my play, I don’t know what to tell you. Perhaps read it or see it again.”

Harris joked that she gave the audience an amazing second play. Despite grumbles, the woman persistently tried to yell her point until finally storming out of the theater. The audience applauded her departure. 

“The plays shows the unconscious ways that white people take up space, that they don’t leave open for black people,” Harris told The Washington Post. “This play doesn’t necessarily have to be about her … but she did just create her own character.”

Twitter users continued to point out the irony in the woman’s behavior. 

“My fave part of this is that she’s standing up to yell in a theatre about her white oppression. It’s my favorite because 1: oppressed people don’t get to do that. A black man would’ve been arrested for this behavior or worse,” one user wrote on Twitter. “2: she’s sitting in a seat a black person wouldn’t have been able to sit in half a century ago.”

Harris told the Washington Post he didn’t want to be dismissive of the woman, instead, he’d rather engage in a conversation with her. 

“It would have been hypocritical of me as someone who said from the beginning, I wanted this to be a play that sparked conversations,” he told The Washington Post.

Many people thought it was outrageous that the woman’s complaint was that white people were portrayed sympathetically in a play about slavery in the Antebellum era. 

“A play about slavery, and her complaint is that HER experience wasn’t represented? Makes me ashamed to be a white woman,” another user tweeted. 

Slave Play has received criticism from white and black audience members alike. 

There is currently a Change.org petition with over 6,000 signatures to shut down the broadway show. The creator of the petition claims it is anti-black. However, by her own admission the sentiment comes from the predominantly white audience’s reactions to what was in it.

“This past Saturday I attended Slave Play for the 8 pm showing. I wanted to verbalize that this was one of the most disrespectful displays of anti-Black sentiment disguised as art that I have ever seen,” the petition reads. “As a Black woman, I was terribly offended and traumatized by the graphic imagery mixed with laughter from a predominantly white audience.”

Broadway audiences tend to be largely white due to the high cost of tickets. Slave Play hosted a “Black Out” night where discounted tickets were provided to a black audience of 800 — a rarity in broadway. 

“We can succumb to a fear-based culture really easily, especially when bad people are in charge. That’s when we should be the loudest and the most individualistic because that’s the only way to actually combat fascism,” Harris told The Guardian of some of his black critics. “When I speak to artists – especially artists from oppressed groups – I see them necessitating this self-censorship. And I’m like: “No, be free! The only time you can be free in this world is when you’re writing.”

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

Entertainment

Broadway’s ‘Frozen’ Is Getting A New Elsa And Ciara Renée Will Be Playing The Beloved Character

ciararenee8 / Instagram

What do Idina Menzel, Caissie Levy, and Caroline Bowman have in common? They’re all Broadway actresses that have portrayed Elsa from “Frozen.” They also happen to be all white. Well, that’s all about to change!

Afro-Latina actress Ciara Renée will be playing the role of Elsa in “Frozen” on Broadway.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Frozen made its Broadway debut in 2018 and was played by Caissie Levy. Idina Menzel was the voice of Elsa in the animated film. Now, an Afro-Latina has scored the coveted role. 

Renée will be playing Elsa, and McKenzie Kurtz will be making her Broadway debut as Anna. Renée and McKenzie will take over the roles. Caissie Levy and Patti Murin end their run as Elsa and Anna respectively on Feb. 16. Renée was previously in the Broadway show “Big Fish” as the Witch as well as “Pippin.”

“Here it is! It’s official! I’m joining the cast of @frozenbroadway as Elsa alongside this bright new star, @mckenziekurtz! And I am incredibly grateful! This is an opportunity to expand minds, open hearts, and empower folks with the power of LOVE! I can’t wait to get started!”

While we’re still getting to know the 29-year-old, we are learning so much about this extraordinary actress who is pretty amazing at showing her biggest supporters lots of love in return.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

Renée, who is half Black and half Puerto Rican, thanked her friends, family, and supporters by giving them exact instructions on what to do when they come to see her show on Broadway. 

“I just want to extend my heartfelt gratitude for all the support and love I received yesterday. It was honestly overwhelming. Thank you, thank you,” Renée said in a video on her Insta-story. “I am so thrilled to be playing Elsa.” 

“But I wanted to set down some ground rules about people coming to see the show,” she said. “I am always so grateful when people come to see the show, people I know, people I don’t. But it isn’t my favorite thing to know when you’re coming. So, if you’re someone I know well, and we have each other’s phone number and you live in New York City, please do not tell me when you’re coming. Please come and text me at intermission or at the end of the show, which is preferred, and I will make sure to put your name on the list. I will check it right after the show.”

She also gave instructions to those she doesn’t know all that well. “If we don’t know each other well or talk super often or you’re from out of town, please do let me know when you’re coming because I want to make sure that I get to see you. For everybody else, I will 100 percent do my very best to Stage Door [where actors meet fans after the show as they exit the theater] as much as humanly possible. I know people come from all over the world to see Broadway and I want to be there as much as I can. If I am not there, please know it’s for a reason. I may not be feeling well, or something is pulling me away, I don’t know what it is, but I will always do my best to Stage Door because I love meeting you all and I am so honored that you would come to see our shows.”

We just love how precise and in control she is about meeting friends and fans. That kind of gratitude will definitely take her far in Broadway and Hollywood. 

Aside from her work on the stage, Renée has also appeared in several television shows.

Credit: ciararenee8 / Instagram

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native and 2013 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University has appeared in Facebook Watch’s series “Strangers,” Netflix’s “Master of None,” CBS’s “Big Bang Theory,” and on the CW’s superhero series “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Arrow,” and “Flash.”

If you haven’t heard Renée’s stellar voice, here’s a clip of the actress singing Demi Lovato’s “Stone Cold.”

Congrats on this new role, Ciara! We can’t wait to see her show on Broadway! Will you be going?

READ: The New Cinderella Remake Tapped Camila Cabello To Play The Princess And Billy Porter To Be The Fabulous Godmother

Here’s Why Pinterest And The Knot Are Finally Prohibiting Slave Plantation Wedding Content From Their Sites

Things That Matter

Here’s Why Pinterest And The Knot Are Finally Prohibiting Slave Plantation Wedding Content From Their Sites

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Pinterest and the Knot Worldwide are two of the largest online wedding planning platforms in the United States. The two organizations are implementing new policies so that some content related to slave plantation weddings can no longer be promoted on the websites, according to BuzzFeed News.

The two companies are taking two different approaches to moderating how former plantations market themselves on the services. While the Knot Worldwide is policing certain language, Pinterest is taking things further by restricting some content altogether. 

The Knot Worldwide thinks language is the source of the issue.

“We want to make sure we’re serving all our couples and that they don’t feel in any way discriminated against,” chief marketing officer of the Knot Worldwide, which owns the Knot and WeddingWire, Dhanusha Sivajee told BuzzFeed News.

Content that glorifies the history of former Southern slave plantations, which are quite often used as wedding venues, will be prohibited. The way these regulations will be enforced is by reviewing the language used to describe these historical locations of mass abuse and white supremacy. 

Plantations will still be allowed on the Knot and WeddingWire, but vendors cannot refer to them as “elegant” or “charming” because people were once forced into labor, banned from literacy, and beaten to name a few of the horrors that regularly occurred on such properties. 

The new language guidelines refer to all wedding venues because some former plantations have tried to move away from that legacy in name.

“You can imagine there could be former plantations that maybe have changed their names to manors or farms,” Sivajee said. 

Pinterest is taking a more hardline approach on plantation weddings. 

The content on Pinterest is user-generated and the platform is essentially used as a search engine to find inspiration. A company spokesperson told BuzzFeed that it is working with Google to de-index searches for plantation weddings. 

When users try to find plantation wedding content it will no longer turn up and if such content does appear, users will see an advisory that the content may violate the terms of use. Pinterest will not allow plantation weddings to be promoted through their advertisement service either. 

“Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things,” a Pinterest spokesperson told BuzzFeed News. “We are working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them.”

A civil rights advocacy group, Color of Change, is largely responsible for these new policies. 

“The decision to glorify plantations as nostalgic sites of celebration is not an empowering one for the Black women and justice-minded people who use your site,” the organization wrote to the Knot. 

The Knot Worldwide says they are working closely with Color of Change to determine the best course of action with the new guidelines which will be rolled out in the coming weeks. 

“Plantations are physical reminders of one of the most horrific human rights abuses the world has ever seen,” the letter said. “The wedding industry routinely denies the violent conditions Black people faced under chattel slavery by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry.”

Slave plantations were able to “rebrand” themselves as romantic venues.

Celebrities (and people who don’t care about slavery) like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds notoriously wed at Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina. In 2018, the couple was called out of for their wedding again six years later. In Marie Claire’s coverage of the backlash, journalist Pippa Nerada wrote, “Boone Hall Plantation, South Carolina, is an (admittedly beautiful) house that was, like most of its kind, built by slaves.” 

Plantations weren’t merely built by slaves, they were where those slaves were tortured and raped, but it appears even reporters must insert that such locations are “admittedly beautiful.” 

Arisa Hatch, VP of Color of Change, says the organization is trying to uncover, “all the different ways that the wedding industry is disrespecting black folks by romanticizing … forced labor camps that brutalized millions of slaves.”

These attitudes that celebrate the Antebellum era come in the wake of tourists complaining that plantation tours, which allow visitors to view plantations for historical purposes, focus too much on slavery or don’t portray white people nicely enough

Margaret Biser, who worked as a plantation tour guide wrote in Vox that people would ask if slaves got paid, try to shut down conversations about slavery, tried to get her to admit that slavery wasn’t that bad, tried to assert that slaveowners housed slaves out of benevolence, and asked if slaves were loyal to their masters.

“All the misconceptions discussed here serve to prop up one overarching and incorrect belief: that slavery wasn’t really all that bad,” Biser wrote. “And if even slavery was supposedly benign, then how bad can the struggles faced by modern-day people of color really be?”