Cancel "A New American Opera: Emmett Till" at John Jay College

Cancel "A New American Opera: Emmett Till" at John Jay College

15,388 have signed. Let’s get to 25,000!
Petition to
President Karol Mason John Jay College

Why this petition matters

Started by Mya Bishop

A white playwright, Clare Coss, has decided to write an opera about the tragic torture and murder of Emmett Till to be shown at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College. 

The play will center a fictional white school teacher named Roanne Taylor, who was supposedly "progressive" and "against Jim Crow and racial inequality."

Clare Coss has creatively centered her white guilt by using this play to make the racially motivated brutal torture and murder of a 14-year-old child about her white self and her white feelings. 

Telling the story from the perspective of a fictional progressive white woman shows that Clare Coss is more concerned with showing the audience that "not all white people are bad" than she is with the ongoing fight for racial justice.

Even after facing mass criticism from the Black community, she has not called off her disgraceful play.

Tickets from this play range from 20 to 1000 dollars, allowing for profit to be made from the tragic torture and murder of a child whose perpetrators still haven't faced any consequences.

Of course, if any profit were to be made, it would only be appropriate for that profit to be given to the family of Emmett Till. However, even if the profit was turned over to them, it wouldn't make the play any less disrespectful.

Adding to the issues with the play, Emmett Till is set to be portrayed by Robert Mack, an adult tenor. This decision exacerbates the adultification of Black children which has historically led to their brutalization.

If we are going to tell the story of Emmett Till, it should only be from a Black perspective, a Black writer, and permission and approval from Till's family.

Clare Coss is out of line for taking it upon herself to turn Black trauma into entertainment and for exploiting a Black tragedy to propel her career and relieve her of her guilt about her whiteness.

Stand with me urging John Jay College to cancel this play from premiering on March 23rd and its encore performance on March 24th. 

John Jay College brands itself as a "social justice school" and its community as "fierce advocates for justice." It's decision to welcome or cancel this play will determine how true that is.

15,388 have signed. Let’s get to 25,000!