Press: Dancing toward diversity: Louisville Ballet raises its barre

By Erica Rucker for LEO Weekly

March 21,2018

“You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought. Many times the tone just simply says, ‘I do not feel you belong here.’” —Singer Solange Knowles

It was a cold September evening in 2014 when I walked into the “Studio Connections” performance at the Louisville Ballet building on Main Street. My friend Cole and I made a bougie decision to go to the ballet. Cole had a friend who danced with the company, and we wanted to see her perform.

Being “bougie” for us often meant going somewhere, eating, drinking or being in a space that is reserved for privilege — spaces that are, at the same time, historically white.

There is something about being black in white spaces. It’s not that my presence isn’t allowed or even not desired. It’s just that these places, by design, were not created with the person of color in mind.

When black women walk into places that are not traditionally ours — rock concerts, operas or ballets — we are acutely aware of our otherness. We know that the white people in the room, even subconsciously, see us and register that we are out of place. Often without knowing they are displaying their latent biases, they smile and nod. They speak or welcome you. They don’t mean harm, but they realize, as do you, that you are black in a white space. They do not speak and welcome each other in the same way.

They already know they belong.

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