Tuesday, December 14, 2004
racist pom squad = bigettes?
so i get this call today from a woman in a southern illinois town who has just started a dance team and would like to try entering them in the hip hop category at one of my dance competitions. she was, on the whole, very unfamiliar with competition jargon, which i was happy to elucidate, but she still seemed apprehensive. i explained that, sans school-affiliation, she would need to enter our all star division. i cut her off at the pass by clarifying that "all star" doesn't equal "more advanced" -- all star is basically comprised of teams backed by private organizations like dance studios and gymnastic gyms instead of schools. even after all this thorough, patient explanation, she says, "oooh! all star! that sounds so scary!" that should have been my first indication of what was to come.
"well, there is an earlier event in belleville on january 9 that you might want to..." i started to offer, hoping she might come and at least watch this earlier event to see how a competition works.
"ooh," she murmured, "i bet they have a lot of rhythm over there. it's dark over there."
astounded, i politely offered, "i beg your pardon?"
"you know that area... they have a lot of dark skinned girls there, right? i bet they're real good at hip hop there." she explained.
unbeknownst to her, i choreograph for the team in belleville and have been for five years now. not that it's worth anything, but initial thought was that i hope i'm there to see the surprise register on her face when she sees twelve white jazzerinas take the floor. they aren't even hip-hoppy or "wiggerish" [hate that term] type girls either. probably their least strongest suit is hip hop.
aside from that, i was completely amazed that this woman actually said this racist statement... out loud! to me! on the phone! after telling me her name and school and everything! i'm guessing she assumed i was white, or at least certainly not black. i'm sure it never crossed her mind that i might be some other minority -- heavens no, not with such an anglo last name. maybe where she is, there aren't any other minorities. i can't believe that people think like this and have no qualms about saying it out loud to another person they don't even know.
what if they are all african american? that means they're automatically great at hip hop? that they'll be an unbeatable force against the legions of wide-eyed white pom pon girls because of course white girls can't move like that? they couldn't kick ass in high kick or lyrical? who thinks like this in 2004?!
i have black friends who are the most amazing jazz dancers regardless of where they grew up. i have known black dance instructors who have preferred to teach pom over hip hop because they're more comfortable with the style. scariest for this woman, i also know black girls with anglo names who have no racially distinguishing vocal traits. it could have been one of them on the phone instead of me, for all she knows. whoops-an-effing-daisy.
hope i don't get dooced for this.
Posted by P at 10:48 PM