I went to a Jazz Festival recently, a very popular one in my state called the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival which is four days long. I went on Friday and despite these two incidents I did have a good time. I am not a fan of public drunkenness and a drunk guy fell on the side of me and dented and eventually broke my chair when I tried to fix the arm. The other incident that occurred I was quite taken aback by.
A white girl was going around dancing and coming up to other Black girls trying to twerk on them saying “hey girlfriend” and trying to be “hip and in with the Black people.” I don’t know if she was drunk of what but when she came up to me and did that I was highly offended.
- We are strangers. I have no issue with people of whatever race attending festivals that may have a cultural majority minority but I do take issue with someone thinking they can just come up and dance on anyone without consent. I don’t care that we’re both girls, I don’t want anyone, guy or girl, Black, White or otherwise, coming up to me out of no where and twerking on me. I don’t know if she was drunk or sober but I was definitely annoyed and felt that my space was invaded and disrespected.
- Why did she assume I was going to twerk along with her? I hate the stereotype that all Black girls twerk on command. I am not a performer nor am I here for anyone’s entertainment, let alone some drunk White girl’s. I did not appreciate it in the least. Would she have done that at a White party with White people? I don’t know, but for whatever reason she did it I didn’t like it one bit. There are Black people who don’t feel public twerking is appropriate and I am one of those people. I personally think that’s a trashy low-class thing to do and I am not alone in that.
- I don’t like when people try to act out of character to try to fit in minority spaces. True, I don’t know this girl. Maybe she authentically likes to twerk on random strangers and that’s just how she operates but personally I don’t think that’s an ok thing to do. Secondly she is a White girl doing this in a predominantly Black space. It’s not a good look. It’s like me going into a predominantly Latino space, screaming “Arriba!” at the top of my lungs and trying to salsa dance on people. I’m not saying I cannot participate in cultural dances, but there’s a difference between acting a fool with strangers vs. dancing with friends you already know or asking to dance with someone who may or may not want to dance.
It has just happened too often that I see some White attendees at festivals act this way. They take this opportunity to try to show how “stereotypically Black” they are by showing of dance moves that are in reality quite mediocre and invading people’s private spaces by acting as if they are close family member or best buddies. Even Black people don’t usually just run up on one another like that when we’re strangers. Even if it were Black person to Black person I would look at anyone funny trying to dance up on me that I don’t know talking about c’mon girlfriend! Ewe! No! Get away from me!
If I come off as stuck up or a stick in the mud I don’t care because everyone’s space and consent should be respected. I’m not a touchy feely person in the first place. I like to have a certain amount of space between me and people I don’t know. If I had a white bestie and I actually did do those kinds of dances then maybe I could and would dance that way with her because I would know her and know that she respected me.
So all I’m saying is PSA please don’t come to cultural festivals, get inebriated or soberly act a fool around minorities simply because you’re in their space and it’s a party doesn’t mean there is suddenly a pass to act like “you’re cool and hip and in with the Blacks and Latinos.” I just don’t like that attitude at all. Respect the space. There are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed. I’m not saying we can’t be friends. I’m not saying that cultural festivals cannot be attended or enjoyed by White people but what I am saying is don’t assume that everyone there is going to dance and don’t come up in someone’s space, touch on them and goad them to dance on command. I am not here for anyone’s exotic entertainment.