The mask that is white privilege prevents most of the fair-skinned from experiencing what it’s like to be seen as different because of the color of your skin. I’ll admit that I’m likely writing this from a place of my own naïve bubble and lack of true understanding, so I won’t try to go there. I will share what I learned through the lens of dance, when yesterday I had the opportunity of being the only white woman at a wedding with over 200 guests (from what I could tell).
The wedding ceremony was beautiful. I was in awe of the praise-dance that kicked off the ceremony. The young dancer did an expressive, fluid, uplifting lyrical dance with moments of Afro-Cuban influence. I felt a true coming together of the bride and groom’s families as the reverend read passionately from scripture and the singer pierced hearts with her soulful vocals. The spirit was present, and you could feel it. Can I get an amen!?
As the reception began, the DJ kicked off with the popular hip-hop line dance (awkwardly attempted at most weddings), “the wobble.” As I hopped up to join the guests flocking to the floor, I noticed some surprised faces, and then surprised voices as I joined the pulsating groove. “Okay, baby!” I heard one woman exclaim.
Later, a friend at the wedding caught me staring fixatedly at a male guest doing a Charleston-like move, and he said, “I think you want to start a dance off.” No permission needed, I was off. I jumped in and gave 'em my best Roger Rabbit eighties move and was blown away when a crowd of guests swarmed around my competi-mate and I, whooping and hollering, with camera flashes flying. Please enjoy the below video of this moment.
Over the course of the evening, I made lots of new friends on the dance floor. I felt accepted and warmed. One woman asked me, “Do you even know this song?” “No,” I admitted, sheepishly. “I just love to dance.”
Reflecting on what I felt and experienced at the wedding made me think about what the dance floor offers when it comes to diversity. It’s not that when you enter the dance floor, that the color of your skin, your gender identity, or your age disappear, it’s that it comes out more fully and in the most beautiful way. Dance really is for everyone. From the married couple of more than 45 years who could only hold hands and sway as one of them was in a wheel chair, to the excited children who scurried past the feet of adults twice their height, dance is for all. It is a meeting ground and a safe space for expressing our true selves. It is a place where we can recognize one another for what we bring on all levels. And the dance that results is beautiful.
How can we offer the space that the dance floor brings to the conversation about diversity and inclusion? What if we honored each other at work and in life with the same whooping and excitement that comes from seeing and feeling each other through movement?