I need to get this off my chest. So if there’s anything pissing you off, please hang out with me in this corner of the internet!
I’m seeing Smart People, an off-Broady show over the weekend, and I’m really excited about it. The cast includes Mahershala Ali, Tessa Thompson, and my beloved Joshua Jackson. It was written by Lydia Diamond, a Black woman, and is being directed by Kenny Leon, a Black man.
I was telling my (white) roommate about it, and here’s how it went as soon as she heard “play about race:”
Her: Joshua Jackson shouldn’t be in this.
(Comments like that annoy the shit out of me. I think it’s different from saying “I’d be more interested in a play that only has POC.” It especially annoyed me because she had never even heard of this play before I’d mentioned it.)
Me: I don’t think that’s true. From what I know about the play it’s probably trying to shed light on whiteness as a category, not accept it as the “default.”
Her: There still shouldn’t be a white man in it. He shouldn’t be talking about race.
Me: You have thoughts about race. You talk about race a lot.
Her: Well if the character was a white woman it would be better.
(Because white women are always a great source on race. Like in this instance, where my white roommate was talking down to me about the play I wanted to see. For the record, I’m mixed race.)
Her contd: And there’s only one woman in it. That’s shitty.
Me: There are two women in it. There’s one white man, the other 3 characters are all POC and 2 are women. I didn’t mention the other actress because I’m not familiar with any of her other work.
Her: Well you didn’t say that.
(Like it’s my fault she jumped to conclusions.)
This happens periodically. I’ll be interested in a film or book or whatever, and she’ll kind of try to lecture me if she finds something objectionable about it. Again, if something isn’t for you, fine, but NOBODY IS ASKING YOU TO CONSUME MY MEDIA CHOICES. It’s super fucking irritating to have someone telling you your choices are bad based on snap judgements (this hilariously also happened with Jane the Virgin. She was convinced it was going to be a really crude sexist show objectifying the character) and also super fucking irritating to have someone try to holier than thou you when you’re just trying to appreciate and enjoy something goddamnit!
Also, I’m completely willing to concede that including a white dude in this play might be BS, but I’d like to see the play and make an informed decision.