Dec 07

Why Would White People Care about This?

by Pia Wilson | 12/07/2020 8:45AM | Racial Justice

Pia Wilson

Pia Wilson

Pia Wilson is a writer. Her plays have been developed and produced in theaters domestically and abroad. In television, she is developing projects with Sony and ABC Studios and has worked as a writer on National Geographic’s forthcoming Genius: Aretha limited series and BET’s Sacrifice.

Pia’s post was originally published as part of a Los Angeles Times piece edited by Ashley Lee, “
40 Black playwrights on the theater industry’s insidious racism”. We are grateful to Pia and to Ashley for allowing us to share the piece with our commu

I was working with a theater’s public relations representative to put together a press release for my show. Upon discussing the themes of the play, she asked me, point blank, “Why would white people care about that?” I’m rarely flabbergasted, but I was on that day. Worse, I was diminished as an artist.

I told her that stories featuring Black people can be universal, and that people of color have been going to all-white shows for decades without anyone questioning if those stories were universal from their points of view. She dutifully wrote down what I said, but none of it wound up in the press release.

White people are so centered in American theater that this woman really thought she had asked a reasonable question. It made me sad when I realized that at least she asked this question to my face, whereas literary managers probably asked themselves this same question whenever they read my work. To really make a change — and to survive —American theater is going to have to put more BIPOC in the decision-making process.

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