It's Time to Listen: Black Dancers and Their Experiences in Swing & Blues [Op-ed]

I'm having a hard time knowing what to write about this recent wave of blog posts and conversations going on about the experience of Black dancers in the lindy hop and blues dance communities. A part of me wants to put them all into tidy boxes and come up with clean solutions and ways forward. A part of me wants to argue and fight about it.

But wiser people have convinced that first we all need to get better at listening to each other, really understanding each other. So that's what I'm doing. Along the way, I'm realizing that I'm not as great a listener as I thought I was. 

Because if we are going to address the complex issue of Black inclusion in lindy hop, we are first going to have to really understand what that problem is. And there is no better way to do that than to listen to Black folk in our communities about what they've experienced and felt. 

So I'm asking everyone to do what I'm doing -- read these difficult and painful stories from our fellow dancers, take them to heart, and sit with them for awhile. It won't feel great. Then again, if it's hard for me to read about it, how much harder must it have been for that person to experience it and then have the courage to write about it? By reading and reflecting, we'll be honoring and learning from another person's experience and perspective, which is the beginning of finding a shared path forward.

With all of that, here are links to recent blog and Facebook posts from Black dancers. I urge you to read and consider them all:

Other Links

  • Bobby White's podcast "Swungover" featured a conversation with Black dancers including Darold Alexander, Latasha Barnes, James Agena Georges, Javier Johnson, Breonna Jordan, Mikayla Pryor, and Radeena Stuckey. 
  • Gert Lush Fuse created this helpful Facebook post that compiles many other blog posts, links and resources called  "Blackness, Whiteness and Blues Dancing".

This is of course just the beginning of the conversation. Are there Black dancers in your scene? Talk with them about these posts and conversations. Listen to them.

Are there other posts that have valuable things to teach us? Please share them in the comments.

And as always, personal attacks and intolerant language will not be tolerated.

UPDATE 1/25/18: Added Facebook post by Rehema Trimiew

UPDATE 1/27/18: Added Facebook post by Angel Sheniev Cadenza

UPDATE 1/31/18: Added Facebook post "Blackness, Whiteness and Blues Dancing"