What would you say about an employer who not only paid people of one race less than another, but did so as part of an explicit policy? It would probably be an outrage — unless, of course, that inequality could reasonably be construed as “intersectional” in nature.
And that’s why a New York City-based play that’s currently casting on a theater-employment website — and which openly stated that people of color would receive a bigger stipend than whites — hasn’t received much media attention, despite the fact that the practice is blatantly illegal.
The ad, placed on Backstage, was first cited by The Daily Wire’s Frank Camp. He redacted the name of the play and the playwright, but a Google search of the relevant language shows the article clearly refers to “Excavation” by E. Wray. The “Excavation” ad, with slight alterations, can still be found on the website.
In that ad, Wray notes that “I am a 29-year-old white, trans, & neuro-divergent theatre artist from East Tennessee. I grew up with a super-granma who imparted me with story after story about my Appalachian ancestors.”
In “Excavation,” Wray writes, “I turn to Gigi’s stories to try to understand more about intergenerational trauma and to search for the healing potential of properly grieving what has been buried, passed down, and repeated in my family. Once I begin digging, however, I end up in a much bigger confrontation with my settler-colonizer ancestors.”
Under the hiring section for “stage manager (staff/crew),” the ad mentions that “If you’re interested, please email a resume … and tell us a little bit about yourself and why you’re interested in working on this project. If you’re white, we’d also love to hear a little bit about what accountability to people of color within a creative process means to you.”
As of now, the ad currently reads that it “(p)ays a small stipend (minimum $150) for the spring workshop period.”
However, Camp noted the original text was much different: “Pays a small stipend (minimum $150) for the spring workshop period,” it read. “Due to the content of this particular project, resources are being allocated in favor of POC collaborators. This means that POC artists will receive a larger stipend than the white artists working on this project.”
Under the “rehearsal” and “compensation” sections, Camp wrote, the original ad also noted there would be a mandatory workshop on race for white people.
“Please note we are working on organizing a short (3 – 4 hour) anti-racism training for the creative team and ensemble in April – to help us address power dynamics and reduce harm within the creative process,” the text noted. “This training will be open to all ensemble members and creative team members, but will be mandatory only for white ensemble/creatives.”
Camp noted that “(o)n or around April 1,” the ad was altered to remove the part about paying employees of different races differently.
Apparently, that alteration wasn’t done with the playwright’s permission: Camp reported that when he reached out with a question about it, the author sounded surprised: “What do you mean about the compensation part changing?”
In a second email, the playwright wrote, “Just checked it – I think Backstage must have taken out the part about paying people of color a higher stipend. But that hasn’t changed!”
And that could present a huge legal problem.
“Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law said that although she doesn’t know ‘what justification’ the authors of the casting call ‘present or have for paying different races differently, if the payment tiers are based only on race, it would not be legal,'” Camp reported.
According to Camp, Bartholet also said that in regard to the training, it “would be illegal to require one race and not another to go through the anti-racism training if based only on race.”
John Donohue of Stanford Law also said that neither paying races differently or requiring one race to undergo training would be legal under federal employment law, according to Camp.
When Camp wrote back to the playwright noting that two professors thought that the advertised racial employment policies were likely against the law, he received no response.
Now, this is a small play written by someone I’ve never heard of that’ll probably receive most of its attention through articles like these.
However, that’s kind of the point. If this had been almost any other combination of races, you would expect larger media outlets to pick it up. As of right now, the Daily Wire has been the only large publication that’s even noted the legal issues here.
This is racism, plain and simple. But in the liberal mind, apparently, it’s tolerable racism since it’s racism against the perceived oppressor.
Therefore, it’s not going to see any wider coverage — and we wouldn’t be surprised if these illegal employment practices are going to continue.
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