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Black choreographer reveals long-standing racial inequities on Broadway

“We are not looking for empathy. We are not victims. We are only asking for humanity and equality.”
Image: Warren Adams
Choreographer Warren Adams attends the Broadway opening night for "Motown: The Musical" at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 14, 2013 in New York City.Michael Stewart / WireImage - Getty Images file

As demonstrators across the United States demand justice for the in-custody death of George Floyd, choreographer Warren Adams challenged Broadway to confront its own racism and address how it has treated black creative artists in the past.

In a letter addressed to Broadway on Instagram, Adams says the industry has been plagued with another disease alongside the coronavirus: racism. “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,” Adams said Monday.

When Broadway returns, however, black artists will not continue to wear those masks, he said. “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.”

A native of South Africa, Adams is known for choreographing Broadway’s “Motown the Musical,” as well as the plays, “All the Natalie Portmans” and “How I Learned to Drive.” He has also served as an adjunct professor in the drama departments at Princeton University and New York University.

Adams further demanded that Broadway implement “real change” and not create the “illusion of inclusion” by fulfilling racial quotas.

“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,” he added.

“It is the perfect time to recalibrate, since ALL we have is time.”