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Let’s Get Specific.

Lately I have been feeling a little irked by hearing POC being talked about in a general fashion.

For those who don’t know, POC stands for people of color. This term is used to encompass non-white people, and is often used in contexts that show the systematic racism that non-white people face.

The area that has been on my mind lately in terms of generalizing POC experiences is in theatre. I have been thinking a lot about casting and producing shows, as someone who will be entering the world as a young theatre professional soon. I have been finding that there has been a change in certain companies and directors wanting to put POC in shows (which is good!). Although the desire to cast POC in a show, I feel a little dissatisfied with the generalness of wanting a POC. This bothers me because there isn’t a singular POC experience. When I think about the unifying factor for POC, I find it to be is combating white supremacy, and even that feels like such a broad idea. POC all face white supremacy and the feeling of otherness differently.

Also I feel the desire for wanting a POC in a show feels like a half formed thought to me. Why do you want that POC in your cast? What part of their identity are you interested in exploring? Class? Gender? LGBT? Age? Profession? Ableism? Inner City? Suburbs? Education? Mixed Race? Colorism? What does the POC you want to cast look like? Tall or short? Dark or light? White passing? Curly hair? Straight hair? Permed hair? (And these are only some question. The idea of someone putting a POC on stage for the sake of putting a POC on stage doesn’t feel right to me. Let’s get specific about our choices.

I don’t necessarily think every show requires a long, in-depth conversation about why a POC actor is being put in a show, but I do believe there must be an acknowledgment of the person that is being put on stage. There must be an acknowledgment of the unique experiences and individuality of the POC actor in front of you.

My fear is that the nuances of POC experiences will be lost and not recognized. I don’t want the acknowledgment of POC to become general. My experience as a black woman is far different from other POC, even from other black people. Acknowledging individual stories of POC is important. Let’s not use broad strokes when discussing POC experience, and instead focus on the many distinctive aspects of POC culture.

One comment on “Let’s Get Specific.

  1. […] on HowlRound that echoes a lot of the points that I was making in my previous blog post, “Let’s Get Specific,” that I would like to revisit and be in dialogue with. Many times, I have internally felt a […]

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