Home News White hatred on full display: ‘The Unbearable Whiteness of Ballet’

White hatred on full display: ‘The Unbearable Whiteness of Ballet’

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Oh really? An entire article, and a lot of outraged readers, based on 7 words uttered by one white imbecile at one event a long time ago. This is how racial tensions are ginned up by the media.

Marie Claire (a liberal rag):

In an exclusive excerpt from her new book Turning Pointe, contributing editor Chloe Angyal lays out the ways that white supremacy is embedded in ballet’s most basic foundations.

Wilmara Manuel and her 11-year-old daughter, Sasha, were at the world finals of a ballet competition, the Youth America Grand Prix, in 2015 when it happened. Shortly before the competition began, the young dancers were on the performance stage with their parents, warming up and preparing to dance the solos they’d been rehearsing for months.

As Wilmara, who is Black and originally from Haiti, and Sasha, who is biracial, stood there, a young white dancer looked around the stage, checking out the competition. “And her eyes land on Sasha,” Wilmara remembers, “and I saw her look [Sasha] up and down, and then look at her mom.

“And her mom said, ‘Don’t worry. They’re never really good anyway.’ ”

Wilmara did her best to contain her shock. Sasha didn’t hear what the white mom had said, and Wilmara wasn’t about to tell her, because “that’s not the thing I want to discuss 10 minutes before she takes the stage.” But Sasha could sense that something was amiss. “Just the look on my face, she was like, ‘What? What happened? What did she say?’ ” Wilmara brushed her daughter off.

Don’t worry. They’re never really good anyway. An entire worldview of white resentment of Black progress and excellence passed quietly from mother to child in just seven words.

That white mother could not fathom that Sasha, a biracial child with a Black mother, might be really good—as in very good, or truly good—at a traditionally white art form at which her child was presumably also quite proficient. She could not imagine that Sasha might deserve to be at that competition, might have qualified on her merit—her talent and skill and persistence—rather than because of what she might consider a misguided or even unjust attempt to diversify ballet by lowering standards. They’re not really good, but they are allowed to be here. In this space that is rightfully yours, in this art form that is rightfully yours. They’re never as good as the white girls, a sweeping generalization that grants no individuality, no humanity, to any nonwhite dancer. They’re all the same, and they never deserve to be here. But don’t worry. Your excellence is a given. You belong here, while their presence is conditional or even ill-gotten.

Sasha grew up in a suburb of Indianapolis and is now 16. She trains at the Royal Ballet School in London, an exclusive training ground that serves as a feeder school for the Royal Ballet. It’s widely acknowledged to be one of the best ballet schools in the world.

Wilmara says that people often express their surprise at the quality of Sasha’s training and technique. “Oh wow, you’re really good,” Wilmara says by way of example. “Where do you train? Have you been dancing for a long time?” She says that while she tries to give these white people the benefit of the doubt, she knows what they usually mean, and she’d prefer they just come out and say it: “I’m surprised you’re that good. You’re Black and you’re dancing and you’re good.”

Now that Sasha is a little older, Wilmara talks to her about the racist assumptions embedded in those surprised comments. “You know she’s asking because she doesn’t think a person of your color can do this,” she’s told Sasha, who now “gets it when she hears that tone of voice.”

More at Marie Claire

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