Knowing a woman’s mind & spirit had been allowed me, with dance I discovered my body more intimately than I had imagined possible. With the acceptance of the ethnicity of my thighs & backside, came a clearer understanding of my voice as a woman & as a poet. The freedom to move in space, to demand of my own sweat a perfection that could continually be approached, though never known, waz poem to me, my body & mind ellipsing, probably for the first time in my life.
— Ntozake Shange
THE FREEDOM TO MOVE IN SPACE IS POEM.
April 4th, 2011 / 7:45 am
In their song “Hahahaha jk,” Das Racist proclaims, “We’re not racist: We love white people!”
[Sorry, I wanted to find a video of a live performance, but YouTube is sometimes inadequate. At least you can listen the song?]
I love Das Racist. They are smart and clever and funny and their lyrics are just plain fantastic. But that one line, it sticks with me. Partially because it’s true, partially because it speaks to racial issues in a very pointed and problematic way.
Imagine if Eminem had a lyric like: I’m not racist, I love black people. How many people would be pissed? (Come on. It’s not like we don’t all know it’s true!) But because Das Racist has at their easy disposal the “race” card, it’s not only funny, it comes to embody a certain degree of truth.
As a woman of color, I can say: I’m not racist, I love white people. No one would call me racist, at least not to my face.
It is difficult to talk about race and stressful and awkward and exhausting. To my mind, one of the reasons these conversations are so difficult, particularly between white people and people of color, is because, so often, white people question concerns raised as if the question is not “how do we solve this problem,” but rather, “does this problem exist.” This is not a debate about whether there are racial and class (and gender and sexuality) disparities in publishing. These disparities exist whether you (choose to) see them or not. Instead these kinds of discussions are intended to function like a magnifying glass on a problem so big it should not require a magnifying glass.
And yet, the magnifying glass is clearly needed.