solange opens up about being a person of color in “predominantly white spaces” in a new essay
The singer asks why her friends and family continue to be treated with suspicion and disrespect.
Following a confrontation between herself, her son, her husband and four "older white women" at a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans, Solange Knowles has published an essay examining the hostility she faces in predominantly white spaces. The singer was at the show with her family when the women, who were seated behind her, told her to sit down. Solange pointed out that she was simply dancing at an electronic concert — a very reasonable thing to do — and declined to sit. The women continued to tell her to move, and eventually threw pieces of lime at her.
After documenting the altercation on Twitter, Solange used it as a chance to discuss how people of color can feel unsafe in white spaces. Tweeting, "We are 4 of about 20 black concertgoers out 1500 here. 4 out of maaaybbe 20 out of 1500," she continued, "I'm just going to share my experience...So that maybe someone will understand, why many of us don't feel safe...in many white spaces...We don't 'bring the drama'....Fix yourself."
The next day, the singer continued the discussion on her site, Saint Heron, in a piece titled "And Do You Belong? I Do." She wrote "You realize that you never called these women racists, but people will continuously put those words in your mouth. What you did indeed say is, 'This is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominantly white spaces,' and you still stand true to that."
Looking beyond the event, she examines wider experiences where she and her friends have faced racial slurs, were targeted by police and security, assumed to be sex-workers, had their hair touched by white strangers, and were generally made to feel unwelcome.
At the conclusion of the essay she surmised that the biggest payback she could have was to just keep dancing with her family, enjoy this time with people she loved, and remind herself, "We belong. We belong. We belong." Read the whole essay here.
Text Wendy Syfret
Image via Instagram