“Racism has been stealing our dreams, choking our stories, looting our talent and then discarding us when we are no longer valued.” said Matthews in a video shared to Twitter on Monday.
The actor and writer continued to call out directors, choreographers, agents, stage managers, casting directors, press teams and reviewers in the industry who are “pretending to be allies,” stating, “that is why Broadway is racist.” Matthews said he was “triggered” after watching the viral video of a White woman, Amy Cooper, calling the cops on a Black man, Christian Cooper, after he asked her to follow the Central Park’s dog leashing rules.
Floyd’s death sparked a rise in Black Lives Matter protests last week. People around the country are taking action and showing solidarity with the movement by speaking out against racism and police brutality.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda apologized for not showing his support towards the Black Lives Matter movement sooner.
“I’m sorry for not pushing harder and faster and speaking those truths under the Hamilton banner,” said Miranda. “While we live in a country where black people are under attack by emboldened white supremacy, police brutality and centuries of systemic anti-black racism, it’s up to us in words and deeds to stand up for our fellow citizens, it’s up to us to do the work to be better allies and have each other’s backs.”
Along with the tweet, Miranda provided links to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP and the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
On Saturday, Morrisseau posted on Facebook to share her thoughts on the recent protests, writing “When we mourn corporations that are on fire, we have to ask ourselves – do said corporations mourn the daily fires that plague us on the streets? On our jobs? When we sacrifice our health during a pandemic to ensure that their economic bottom line is reached?”
“It’s time to get educated,” said Broadway actor Dante White in a video shared to Twitter on Sunday. “It’s time to learn, it’s time to watch the documentaries, read the articles and understand the history, understand the rage, understand why we are where we are right now. Silence is not an option.”
In a post to the Broadway and the theatre communities, stage manager Cody Renard Richard shared his experience with racism throughout his career: “I’m exhausted. I’m tired of walking out of the room when I feel uncomfortable because of you. I’m tired of laughing awkwardly when your racist jokes aren’t funny. I’m tired of having to defend MY skin color, just to make YOU feel better. I’m so tired and I simply won’t stand for it anymore,” wrote Richard.
The Twitter account for Broadway’s “Tina” put out a statement encouraging other theater companies to “act, listen and create systemic change” for Black members.
Director, choreographer and producer Warren Adams took to Instagram to make it clear the theatre “will not go back to normal.” “We will not walk through rooms holding our breath and wear those masks anymore,” wrote Adams. “We are not looking for empathy. We are not victims. We are only asking for humanity and equality.”
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Dear #Broadway, The #Covid virus came, and it stopped everything. Our initial response was fear and terror because of all the uncertainty. But then, another virus reared its ugly head, that virus called #RACISM. It is an ever present #virus, one that moves through every space of our ecosystem by slithering like an invisible snake. The truth is, we all know that it is invisible ONLY to those who choose not to see it. Right now, we all have to wear #masks because of the #Coronavirus, but the reality is, your #black members have been wearing masks for a very long time; out of fear of rocking the boat, and to make sure you are comfortable. But here's the thing, when we come back to the theatre, the place we all love most, WE will not go back to normal. We will not walk through rooms holding our breath and wear those masks anymore. We are not looking for #empathy. We are not #victims. We are only asking for #humanity and #equality. Some of you chose to express your heartache this past weekend. It was very touching… no, see, I just did it again. I wore the mask. Let me try that again. Some of you expressed your heartache this weekend after the Black Broadway community demanded it of you. The words you wrote were very powerful and we thank you for it. But, those are only words. Your actions regarding this matter is what will really count. When you have an all white producing team, #CHANGE IT. When you have an all white creative team, CHANGE IT. When you have an all white staff at your organisation, CHANGE IT. When you have an all white board, CHANGE IT. When you're pitching a narrative steeped in ethnic culture with an ALL #WHITE TEAM – DON'T! JUST DON'T. When you have an only white ANYTHING, CHANGE IT. And by CHANGE IT, we don't mean adding one of us so that it ticks a box. We are talking about REAL CHANGE. Not, THE ILLUSION OF INCLUSION. This narrative includes the equality struggle for our #LATIN, #ASIAN, #NATIVE & #MIDDLEEASTERN brothers and sisters as well. (Message continued below)
In an op-ed written in the Burton Wire, president of the Black Theatre Association Dr. Monica Ndounou called out White theaters for their silence during this time: “It is hard not to notice how white theaters profit from staging Black death and trauma but say nothing in response to anti-Black violence like the lynching of George Floyd and multiple attacks against Black people during a global pandemic that is ravaging Black and Brown communities,” wrote Ndounou. “The silence over the past several weeks speaks volumes on the need for safe spaces to tell our stories.”
Activist Keelay Gipson took to Instagram to tell theater leaders that they need to hire more Black and Brown staff members.