Okay did you ever see that Dave Chappelle episode where he does this faux Def Poetry Jam skit, playing little bongo type drums & says in a lyrical way "white people go like this." "Black people go like that." Well I had my own moment of stereotyping at a reggae show I went to on Thursday night.
My partner & I got to the show right in time for the Roots Revolution set which was opening for Rootz Underground. After getting my usual mineral water with lime I looked about the room & noticed the large number of white folks there dancing kinda, well, hippy style. I don't know what else to call it other than a lot of flowing arms & spacey body language. And in my judgemental mind I thought "white people seem to like reggae, while dancing like their high." And as the room filled with more people the majority seemed to become not just pseudo hippie whites but a lot of baseball cap backwards frat boy looking dudes & their chicks. I know I live in the whitest city in America but this was a still a surprise.
As I watched folks dance I saw a few brown folks who danced no better than the assumed frats & hippies & it occurred to me that I had been clearly having what I like to call an inner racial dialogue. Deciding without much proof that some folks do one thing and some other folks do something else. And if anyone ever said such things to me out loud I'd call them on it & say they sounded prejudiced. And yet here I was, in my head, doing the same damn thing. And the truth is at a reggae show you're lucky if 2 people out of 50 look really cool dancing. Reggae is not about looking cool anyway & so it shouldn't really matter. In fact it's one of the things I like about the music. So here I was thinking that Blacks should dance more "naturally" to the music when the reality is there was one Black dude who danced in a exuberant yet stylish manner & there was one white dude who did the same.
This type of self-talk is pretty common so I'm not going to beat myself up for it. My guess is we all do it no matter how much anti-racism work we do. Those thoughts sneak in like an unexpected rash and the only way to get rid of them is to acknowledge them & remember they are not the truth. Those thoughts are there to simply make us feel scared, not a part of, or teach us that no one is immune to judgement and that by working through the poopy thoughts we can feel even closer to ourselves & others.
After I realized what I had been thinking I was able to forgive myself and let go. Some of us dance well or not, regardless of race. In the end it matters nil. What matters is how much fun we have. We let go of what anyone else is or is not doing and just enjoy ourselves. When I don't worry as a multiracial person, queer person, female or sober person, how I appear, I am free. And by my example others may feel more free too. We all dance together smiling & connected to something much greater, no matter how we look. This is a lesson that must be repeated over & over in various forms, sometimes daily. But it's worth is to be truly happy!
"You´re a shinig star, no matter who you are. Shining bright to see, what you can truly be. That you can truly be." Earth Wind & Fire