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Playing with fire: A theater company’s floated idea to see a play — charging whites higher ticket prices — is asking for trouble

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 2/7/2020 Daily News Editorial Board

The city’s human rights law bars discrimination in public accommodations, such as restaurants, stores, hospitals, museums and theaters.

A small Bedford-Stuyvesant theater called Jack, which beginning next week will stage a play about Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings (who also bore several of Jefferson’s children) named “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever,” plans to charge patrons who identify as white $22. Those who identify as people of color will pay $15.

This is plainly discrimination based on race that must be stamped out forthwith by city investigators.

Credit the folks at the theater company for devising a clever gimmick to draw easily distracted New Yorkers’ attention and the bigger problem of racial economic inequity; we sure took the bait.

And tip the hat for them wrapping their clearly illegal scheme in a patina of choice. Leadership at Jack says that the pricing is based not on how someone looks, but the ethnicity with which they identify.

Clearly the point being made is that black Americans have suffered over the generations from chattel slavery, Jim Crow and all manner of other racist abuses. In that context, a seven-dollar difference feels like a small private gesture toward something more sweeping and systemic, like reparations delivered by the government.

But the city’s economy is not a thought experiment. It is a place where small injustices ignored can quickly become troubling precedent.

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