Harvard Hosts a Shakespearean Extravaganza — but Only for Black People

(AP Photo/Steve Karnowski)

For those in Boston keen to catch a show, a Shakespearean spectacular could be in your future.

Such may not be the case, however, if you’re wrapped in insufficient skin.


On Friday, October 29th, Harvard University is hosting an adaptation of Macbeth.

But it’s no normal showing: The philosophical foray into ambition and its wake will be open only to those of a darker shade.

From the advertisement:


Black Out Performance

We have designated this performance to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members.

If you’re non-black but would like to show support, you can do that by not showing up:

For our non-Black allies, we appreciate your support in making this a completely Black-identifying evening. We invite you to join us at another performance during the run.

Shakespeare and racial ramifications are making headlines as of late. On October 11th, I covered the story of a University of Michigan professor who’d escaped Communist China only to be canceled at an American college.

His crime: showing the 1965 film rendition of Othello.

Unfortunately for 65-year-old Bright Sheng — a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist — they didn’t quite have the same sensibilities toward “blackface” 56 years ago:

As for Harvard’s Macbeth in Stride, the “dazzling theatrical event” “examines what it means to be an ambitious Black woman through the lens of one of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters.”


So describes the school’s American Repertory Theater (A.R.T).

And the play’s got plenty of pizazz:

[T]he production uses pop, rock, gospel, and R&B to trace the fatalistic arc of Lady Macbeth while lifting up contemporary Black female power, femininity, and desire.

Still, not everyone’s elated over the segregated situation.

As noted by The College Fix, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has called for such separation to cease.

FIRE flamed the production for violating the law:

As an integral part of Harvard, the American Repertory Theater is subject to the university’s legal obligations and policies. Under federal law, excluding university students, faculty, and staff from educational enrichment opportunities based on race is forbidden. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids all institutions receiving federal financial assistance, whether public or private, from discriminating “on the ground of race, color, or national origin.” Colleges and universities like Harvard that accept payments from students who receive federal financial aid are covered by Title VI. Massachusetts law also bars discrimination based on race in places of public accommodation, defined as “any place…which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.” This includes performance spaces such as theaters.


A.R.T.’s site says it’s “dedicated to making a welcoming and accessible space for people of any identity, background, or ability.”

“Hosting a racially segregated performance where people with the wrong racial background are specifically told that they are not welcome,” FIRE insists, “flies directly in the face of that commitment.”

Well, perhaps the participants are simply wanting to feel “safe” — that seems to be the lingo (and the idea) of the day.

Or maybe it’s all in the name of that other heavily hailed virtue — inclusion.

I believe there was a time in America when the populace, generally, felt safe — not because we were separated, but due to us being together.

Glancing at the past few years, it appears our institutions aim to undo all that.

We’re headed back toward the days of different lunch counters.

There’s even new nomenclature for dividing us by whites and nonwhites — “people of color” are increasingly distinguished from the Caucasian class.

In doing that, it seems to me we’re sowing seeds of destructive distrust.


At the very least, unity won’t be on the rise.

There is but one flag that flies for our country.

Will multiple banners one day blow in the breeze, covering color-coded contingents?

One should do just fine — we are, after all, all Americans.

I would hope everyone could agree on that.

Either way, if you’re hankering for some spirited Shakespeare — and if your epidermis will allow — check out Macbeth in Stride.

And don’t forget the password; from the ad:

Please enter promo code BLACKOUT or another promo code to access this performance.



See more pieces from me:

High School’s Halftime Gets Souped-up With Something Far More Fabulous

Winds of Change Bring a VP of ‘Humanism, Equity and Antiracism’ to an American Medical School

Rutgers Professor Identifies America’s Enemy: White Mothers, and Not the ‘Mom’ Kind

Find all my RedState work here.

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