ST. LOUIS — His peculiar interaction with a white student questioning if he would be considered Black by joining an all-Black student organization on Webster University’s campus inspired Travis Haughton’s current work, “Black Card.”
The event occurred during Haughton’s freshman year at Webster. He was heavily involved with the Association for African American Collegians, and was so immersed with the organization that many students assumed he was a board member. That wasn’t the case, he was just a member.
One day, an unknown white student approached him with curiosity about joining the organization, but his way of doing it was rather odd. He posed the question, “If I join, does that mean I’m Black?”
Then, a not so vocal Haughton was naturally taken aback by his comment. Instead of handling the matter himself, he raised the concern to board members.
“I had to go back to the board members and get them to talk to him,” Haughton said. “So I don’t know what happened after that.”
One thing Haughton does know is that the strange interaction could make an interesting concept for a feature film.
“The whole point of the story is that this white person wants to join the Black Student Union to become Black, but in reality this person can’t be Black ‘cause obviously you’re not Black and you won’t ever be Black.” Haughton said.
In a script writing class at Webster, Haughton started developing the storyline behind his comedic feature “Black Card.” However, instead of using himself and his white male counterpart as the film’s muses, he incorporated a Black woman and white woman as leads.
“I was like this would be a dope idea and I could add some twists and turns into it of course to make it into an interesting story,” Haughton said.
“I decided to write it from the female’s perspective versus male because of movies that are already out and you see more women appropriating the culture than men.”
His senior year was the time he planned on executing it, but when the COVID-19 pandemic came into play, he realized that wasn’t feasible.
Now a Webster graduate, Haughton is transitioning his feature film script into a television series. He plans to release a proof of concept, (a promo or trailer of the series) next month to get people engaged before it releases potentially at the end of this year.
“I thought it would be dope to change it into a TV show because I can develop the characters more, and develop the story more than with a feature film where people will watch it and leave. I want you to go through the journey with each and every one of the characters, even the white character who is the main one.”
Although the series discusses the controversy and severity surrounding the misappropriation of Black culture, he wants it to make people laugh while also educating them.
Without revealing too much of the series’ synopsis, Haughton said a “Black Card” constitution comes into play with the plot, where comedic steps are implemented to demonstrate how one can get involved with the Black community.
“The Black Student Union plays a game on the white girl and tells her how she can be Black,” Haughton said. “She has to go to a Black church, a Black cookout and each time she finishes one of the steps she levels up to the next constitution.”
The major word of advice Haughton gives to white people curious about Black culture is to do their research and ask questions.
“A lot of people just see somebody doing something, but they don’t know what it means,” Haughton said.
“Do your research and also ask questions. You can’t just go into doing something and not know what you’re getting yourself into. Then, the next thing you know you get posted on The Shade Room ‘cause you’re appropriating the culture and not realizing what you’re wearing, what it means.”
Haughton said he wants his audience to look at his project as a ‘Black Mean Girls.’ He wants it to differentiate the difference between appropriating the culture versus appreciating it.
“This is my story to tell and I just wanna make sure I tell it in my perspective and people can take it however they want to take it,” Haughton said.
“But at the end of the day I’m educating and I want you to know that there’s a difference between appropriating the culture and appreciating the culture.”
Stay updated on Haughton’s productions via his website, www.atravisproduction.com or follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/taughtbyt/.