by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Students at Columbia College are upset that white students were cast in the roles of Latino and Palestinian characters in a play — even though no Palestinian students auditioned.
The play, called HOME/LAND, is about the “the stories of Latinx and Palestinian immigration to America” and is “based on interviews with Chicago-based immigrants,” according to an article in The Chronicle, the school’s student newspaper.
The news source reports that the play’s (black) director, Theater Department associate professor Catherine Slade, ignored students’ issues with white actors being cast in Latino and Palestinian roles, made insensitive racial statements during production, and tried to change the script in ways that some felt perpetuated stereotypes about immigrants.
“From the get-go, it felt disrespectful,” Assistant Stage Manager Amy Gerwert-Valdez told The Chronicle. “It got to a place where nobody felt safe; no one was comfortable with her.” …
… I truly believe that at least one of these students’ complaints — that white actors were cast to play Palestinian characters — to be completely absurd. Yes, it would obviously be better to give Palestinian students the opportunity to play Palestinian characters, but seeing as no Palestinian students tried out, what was Slade supposed to do? Summon a genie and wish for some of them to try out? Cancel the production altogether? Honestly, I am very unclear about what exactly they would have wished for her to have done in this case.