Sign language interpreter Keith Wann, 53, had joined the production staff for an upcoming “The Lion King on Broadway” 25th-anniversary special. However, Wann says the production team recently fired him.
What did he do? What did he not do? According to Wann, he was fired for being white.
Wann filed a federal discrimination lawsuit last week against Theatre Development Fund – which staffs Broadway shows with American Sign Language interpreters — and the director of its accessibility programs, Lisa Carling.
Carling urged Wann and another recently fired staffer, Christina Mosleh, to “back out” of the show to create room for more black sign-language interpreters, according to the lawsuit.
“With great embarrassment and apologies, I’m asking you both to please back out of interpreting the show for us on Sunday, April 24. I don’t see any other way out of this. It seems like the best solution,” Carling wrote in an email to the two white sign language interpreters, reports the New York Post.
To be fair, it appears Carling is only a stooge. The Post report obtained another email revealing that Shelly Guy, the director of ASL for “The Lion King,” tasked Carling with dismissing “all non-black interpreters.”
“Keith Wann, though an amazing ASL performer, is not a black person and therefore should not be representing Lion King,” Guy wrote to Carling.
Translation: He’s good. But he’s white. So bury him.
And Carling did. The ASL fired both Wann and Mosleh when they refused to resign on account of their white skin tones.
Fired for being white. Damn them for being born that way.
“To me, just seeing that discrimination, it doesn’t matter if I’m white or black,” said Wann. “This is blatant and I would just hope that other people who have also experienced this would step forward.”
An organization leader sending emails to an underling to order the removal of employees on the basis of their skin color would be a significant story in any sane society. It’s both racist and illegal. Yet in our society, the supposedly “anti-racist” corporate news outlets — CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and the New York Times –have not bothered to cover the story.
There’s a great reluctance to oppose a racist policy that demands only black staffers, which Shelly Guy revealed is the ASL edict for hiring interpreters. And such cowardice helps normalize said racism.
“If you insert a different color, if you insert a different race, it is wrong. You are not allowed to fire somebody because of that reason,” Wann told Fox News on Monday.
More casualties of the “anti-racist” movement. #WhiteSignLanguageInterpretersDontMatter.