I’d like to dedicate this post to all my black American sisters who defy the stereotype.
Cue: Spice Girls “If You Can’t Dance”
I think one of the most overlooked tragedies of stereotyping people by race is the stress that it causes those of us who do not entirely fit the mold. There are so many things that black people are supposed to do that I don’t really do…and for the most part I am fine with that. See, growing up with the “Cosby Show” made it socially acceptable for me not to completely fulfill certain stereotypes. However, there was one stereotype that the Cosby show did not exclude me from…
DANCING! Before middle school the idea of my inability to dance never crossed my mind. I mean I was in dance class (ballet and tap) so I mean I could dance but I would soon learn I couldn’t DANCE.
I wasn’t trying to twerk it in middle school but I did sign up for step team. It was here that I should have seen the first sign! It was painful…I was the last one to learn any of the complex steps. The other girls kept telling me just to listen to the rhythm but I just couldn’t figure it out. By the time our step show came around, I only mastered one of the steps…so that was the only I did and I had to sit on the sideline and watch as the other girls all stomped for their lives as the rest of the school yelled “Alright!” “Get it, girls” and “I see you!”
I eventually lived down that disappointment mostly because in between I was able to move to a new town and start over. In my teen years I found myself locked in my room practicing my dance skills. Songs like “Back that a$$ up” and “Whistle while you twerk” were popular and I needed to make sure that I was on point. It was during this time in my bedroom that I realized that my aspirations of dancing like a video girl would never come to fruition. I just didn’t have it.
How in the world was I supposed to go through life as a black girl who couldn’t dance? Not only that, how am I half African without rhythm…how did the ancestors completely skip out of blessing me with the dancing ability? In college I first thought the best way to avoid facing the embarrassment of my reality was to avoid going out all together. And when I did eventually go out…it was mostly “just for the atmosphere.” If I guy asked me to dance, I would mostly decline and I know for that fact there are a lot of guys who assume that I am probably some stuck up girl that wouldn’t give them the time of day but I couldn’t bring myself to say “Oh, I’m really bad at dancing let’s just have a drink.” That would be like admitting that I can’t tie my shoe!
And for the most part I’ve learned to deal. I’ve learned that there are other black girls just like me. Often times we go out together dance in our rhythmless uncoordinated ways and enjoy ourselves. There are times when we see white girls getting it in and we do feel a pang of jealousy. I mean yeah…we were told that dancing was a right that we were entitled to by birth but somehow that was completely snatched from us!