California State University, Long Beach: Censorship of Play Satirizing Racial Stereotypes


California State University - Long Beach

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Case Overview


On August 22, 2016, California State University, Long Beach, cancelled a September 29 performance of the play N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK (N*W*C*) due to apparent opposition to its deliberately provocative content. The satirical play is performed by Asian American, Hispanic American, and African American actors who share personal narratives about how the construct of race shapes personal identity while mocking stereotypes and racial slurs that perpetuate social injustice. In protest of the cancellation, Michele Roberge resigned from her role as executive director of the Richard & Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center, where the play was scheduled to be performed. On September 23, 2016, FIRE, along with the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF), sent a letter to CSULB reminding the administration of its duty to protect artistic expression and asking the university to reverse the play’s cancellation. CSULB did not respond to the coalition’s letter.