A New York City play called Excavation was seeking talent to star in the project, but the descriptions were discriminatory against whites, with the theater company openly stating that they would be paying whites less than “POCs” (or people of color) and that anyone who was white that signed up to be a part of the project would have to go through mandatory diversity training. However, after some ample backlash and a proper lesson in anti-discrimination laws, the company recanted their pay and training discrimination against whites.
The initial casting call was made over on Backstage.com, with the writer describing the play as follows…
“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, 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.
“This project looks at how the stories we tell (and the stories we don’t tell) shape our understandings of ourselves and the world we live in. Working within Appalachian story-telling forms, I look at how my predominately white family has used stories to obscure our roles in the history and persistence of colonization, and to deny culpability. But I also go to these same forms, these same stories, these same practices, to ask how these traditions could be transformed and used in the service of decolonizing, and in dismantling white supremacy. “
If the description didn’t give away the creators’ racism against whites, the payment and diversity training surely did.
While the current page on Backstage doesn’t feature the blurbs, the original listing did. In fact, in an archive from March 30th, 2019 it stated…
“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. This training will be open to all ensemble members and creative team members, but will be mandatory only for white ensemble/creatives.”
If you attempt to search for the archives containing that blurb, they’ve been removed from Google or it will auto-redirect away from that page while attempting to view it. Thankfully it was possible to capture the link and archive the source to prove that the page did in fact state that white staff would have to go through a mandatory training for Leftist agitprop about “power dynamics” and “anti-racism”.
A separate blurb stated that non-whites would receive higher pay than whites…
“Pays a small stipend (minimum $150) for the spring workshop period. 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.”
The Daily Caller proceeded to reach out to the staff for the Excavation play to ask about the stipend, especially after the part about higher pay for non-whites was removed. According to the site, the playwright responded stating…
“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!”
Doing due diligence, Daily Caller reached out to law scholars to find out if pay based on race was illegal, and Professor Elizabeth Bartholet of Harvard Law responded, saying…
“[…] if the payment tiers are based only on race, it would not be legal.
“[…] would be illegal to require one race and not another to go through the anti-racism training if based only on race.”
This was reiterated by Professor John Donohue of Stanford Law, who the Daily Caller also contacted to find out if this form of pay discrepancy and anti-racism training based on race was legal. Professor Donohue simply stated…
“Not allowed under federal employment discrimination law (and presumably state anti-discrimination law as well).”
The Daily Caller then reached back out to the playwrights, and asked them if they would be maintaining the race-based pay and training, but according to the article the creators of the play did not get back with them.
As pointed out by the article, after the exchange, on April 5th, 2019, the Backstage listing had the anti-racism workshop and training section removed. The compensation and contract details also lists $150 for the spring workshop period, but there’s no mention of race-based pay preference.
Rehearsals are set to take place between April and May, with a showing scheduled for June.