Friends, we live in dangerous times. With Fascism stirring both home and abroad, to be a marginalized person in the year 2023 is to know a daily struggle just to survive. Yet even in these trying times, we find ourselves not only surviving, but thriving. We’ve survived police brutality and Proud Boy riots. We’ve fought back a fascistic presidency and his white supremacist Supreme Court. We’ve went from the back rooms to the board rooms, and from boonies to the movies. Everywhere you look, you see the crowds of grinding, surviving, marginalized warriors.
How have we managed to get this far? Not with the help of any white people, but with our own unique power: an ear for rhythm and hips for dance.
White Supremacy, with its starched and buttoned up nature, simply recoils at the sounds and zesty flavor of black and brown bodies moving to the beat of a tune. Much like their repulsion towards spicy food, dance is seasoning for the eyes that white people just can’t stand. Looking at our culture, you couldn’t be blamed for missing this phenomenon. From Jazz to Call and Response, white people have cannibalized the cultural tendencies of marginalized persons to express their souls, twisting them into monstrosities and calling it their own. How they managed to pervert the sultry tunes of Miles Davis into the genre known as “Nu-Metal”, I will never understand. And while a penchant for music is well known in the Black community, most miss the all important sister to this foundational artform – dance.
White people, before they learned to dance themselves, feared the sight of Brown bodies. The Infamous Wounded Knee Massacre was prompted in response to the Native’s powerful Ghost Dance, a religious exercise meant to call forth the Great Spirit to destroy the white settlers who had invaded their lands. Black Slaves fought back against their white masters with their satirical Cake Walks, meant to mock the ridiculously robotic movements of European “dance”, to great effect. It wasn’t until the 1930s, when modern capitalism first realized it could exploit the natural rhythmic abilities of the Black and Indigenous peoples for profit, as well as to enrich their own barren culture.
Today we still see the same white resistance to the power of dance, and the effects it has on stopping White Supremacy in it’s tracks. The Summer of 2020 saw the George Floyd protests fill the streets of America with laughter, music and dancing, which the police and neo-nazis responded to with violent force. The modern resurgence of Trans culture and their electric performances enrapture young audiences, and deal striking blows to toxic patriarchal masculinity that pervades our country. Now, more than ever, the power of dance is needed. Disabused of the white notion that only violence can protect you, the Black and Brown bodies of this nation need to band together and break our chains like we always have: Through Dance.