Anthony Lennon is the latest White person to identify as Black, lying about his heritage to win a grant intended for artists of color.
The Independent reports Lennon knows he is genetically White, saying in 1990, “My parents are white and so are their parents, and so are their parents, and so are their parents.” However, he also identifies as a “born-again African” because “Everybody on the planet is African. It’s your choice as to whether you accept it.”
Lennon also claims to have “gone through the struggles of a Black man” because of his hair texture and high cheekbones.
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon: my genes are white but I’m black
“A theatre director who has won funds meant for ‘people of colour’ has admitted his parents and grandparents were all white.”
This man has taken up so much space in the theatre world.https://t.co/G4Ew6iQeVc
— Ronke Lawal (@ronkelawal) November 4, 2018
The theater director applied for the Arts Council England grant, a paid two-year fellowship for artists of color worth more than $500,000. Lennon registered as a person of mixed heritage, going on to win the grant.
Stage actor Luke Elliott was reportedly “fuming” that Lennon was “taking up the little resources” awarded to Black thespians. The Arts Council England, however, is sticking by its decision, partially because a Black-led theater Lennon works for, Talawa, backed him.
“As an artist of mixed heritage he is not only eligible for the position, but his experience, work and achievements make him an exceptional person for the role,” the organization said in a statement. “Talawa raised their wish to support Anthony with us. In responding we took into account the law in relation to race and ethnicity. This is a very unusual case and we do not think it undermines the support we provide to black and minority ethnic people within the theatre sector.”