Texas Wesleyan University’s theater program has suspended production of a play after students of color criticized its inclusion of racial slurs, The New York Times reported. The play, Down in Mississippi, is about registering Black voters in the American South in the 1960s and includes a scene in which a white person repeatedly uses a derogatory term to refer to Black people. Playwright Carlyle Brown, a Black man, said he included the slur to maintain historical accuracy, rather than censor the past for the audience’s comfort.
The complaints reportedly originated with two students, a Latinx woman and a Black woman who were not affiliated with the show. In a listening session with campus administrators, Black students said they worried that the use of the slur would exacerbate existing racial disparities on campus. The theater department first considered moving the play to a local theater that produces works about African American experiences, but it eventually decided to shut down the production after students involved indicated they were uncomfortable with the material.