Solange Knowles pens a lengthy essay about race, belonging & Kraftwerk

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I liked the interesting conversation around the Solange Knowles post on Sunday. Solange tweeted about her experience as one of only a handful of African-American people at a NOLA Kraftwerk concert. She told her experience of being told to sit down (not asked) and having a lime thrown at her by white concertgoers. The response to Solange’s tweets was both troubling and affirming – many people “get it” and understood that she was telling her story, her experience of feeling unsafe in the “white space” of a Kraftwerk concert. Some people did not get it and simply doubted that an African-American woman would comprehend racism or racist acts against her. No one made the claim that Solange is a saint, but many of us took her story at face value, and at least some people (hopefully) learned that we should listen to the stories told by people of color. Racism exists. People act with implicit or explicit racism all the time. It was amazing to see some people simply question the very idea that a black woman would recognize racism for what it was.

Anyway, after the tweets and the aftermath of the tweets, Solange wrote a lengthy essay for Saint Heron. I would recommend that everyone read this piece, even though the format (it’s all center-aligned) is THE WORST. But it’s a well-written piece and it’s about a lot more than Solange experiencing one racist act at a Kraftwerk concert. It’s about how society at large refuses to even acknowledge and affirm that yes, there is racism. Solange writes about inclusion, and the implication of so many racist acts: “I do not feel you belong here.” The piece is too long to do extensive excerpts, but here’s part of the essay, in which she talks about what happened once they arrived at the concert hall:

Imagine, although the kids are interested, they are still 11, unfamiliar, and would rather be spending their Friday night differently. You and your husband are always talking to your son about expansion and being open to other things and experiences, so you guys make the Kraftwerk concert a family Friday night. You get there about 10 minutes late, but lucky for you, as soon as you walk to your box seats, the song that you just played for your son in the car is on! It’s a song his uncle sampled, “The Hall of Mirrors.” You haven’t even sat down yet because you just walked to your seat and you’re so excited to dance to this DANCE MUSIC SONG.

Simultaneously, a much older black venue attendant comes over to your son and his friend and yells “No electronic cigarettes allowed, you need to stop doing that now!” You are too into the groove and let your husband handle it and tell the attendant that the children are 11 years old, and it’s actually the two grown white men in front of you guys who were smoking them. You are annoyed and feel it’s extremely problematic that someone would challenge their innocence, but determined to stay positive and your husband has handled this accordingly.

About 20 seconds later, you hear women yell aggressively, “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now” from the box behind you. You want to be considerate, however, they were not at all considerate with their tone, their choice of words, or the fact that you just walked in and seem to be enjoying yourself. You are also confused as to what show you went to. This is a band that were pioneers of electronic and dance music. Surely the audience is going to expect you to dance at some point. You were planning on sitting down after this song, as long as it wasn’t one of the four songs that you really connect with and plan on getting down to.

You feel something heavy hit you on the back of your shoulder, but consider that you are imagining things because well….certainly a stranger would not have the audacity. Moments later, you feel something again, this time smaller, less heavy, and your son and his friend tell you those ladies just hit you with a lime. You look down only to see the half eaten lime on the ground below you.

You inhale deeply. Your husband calmly asks the group of women did they just throw trash at you. One woman says, “I just want to make it clear, I was not the one who yelled those horrible, nasty, things at you.” Loud enough for you to hear.

[From Saint Heron]

Yeah. I’m glad Solange is talking about this, and it’s interesting that this has become a flash-point for a larger conversation about racism and the experiential stories of African-Americans and people of color. This essay should be a must-read for all people, although I know it won’t be. People will still go on, second-guessing these experiences and playing point-counterpoint like “racism” is some far-flung concept in a debate hall rather than something that actually happens to millions of people every day.

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128 Responses to “Solange Knowles pens a lengthy essay about race, belonging & Kraftwerk”

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  1. QQ says:

    Go. Off Solo! what she speaks to is not rare, is something I’ve personally lived all my life both here and in My Country( as a middle class family in a nice area) , I’ve seen and heard the switch go off, Shoot I Go to Miami and see LATINOS (model Minority White passing Cubanos) do it to me, and often the only thing that saves me is me speaking their language and quickly disabusing them of what is about to start being said

    Is ridiculous she had to break this down in such detail because her initial experience or whatever wasn’t credible enough or because she is “difficult” or whatever the F*ck some of you guys were trying to imply but believe me this happens DAILY

    • Babyswans says:

      I truly wish I could say I was surprised by your experience with Latinos, but I’m not. People assume that the word Latino or Hispanic implies of mixed heritage (mulatto, mestizo, etc.-I’m using historical terms because I’m a Latin American Studies professor) and that we are all POC, when in fact that’s not the definition of either word, which often means that when we come across racial discrimination from another Latino (especially in the USA) it offends us at a deeper level than from a non Latino (because we are “the same”, when in fact being a white Latino means you have privilege that non white Latinos do not have). The other side of the argument is that white Latinos argue that they suffer discrimination and a lack of understanding about the diversity of their country, which to a certain degree is true (ex: You’re Puerto Rican? But you don’t “look” Puerto Rican!). Again, while trivial compared to actual true racism can still effect the psyche and cause you to have a chip on your shoulder (but again NOT comparable) . What I’m trying to say is that I’m sorry. We are some of the most racist people out there. I’ve always said this. No amount of studying or reading of historical texts or literature taught me this. Personal experience did:

      My white Cuban grandmother, shocked: Wow. “They” drive BMW’s too. (The “they” being a Black man getting into his car.)

      Me: Yeah. Amazing huh? But you know what’s even more amazing? Some gringo is looking into this BMW and thinking the same thing about you.

      *crickets*

      • QQ says:

        Come THRU Babyswans you KNOW exactly what i’m talking about!!! I’m expecting a BOMB Afrolatina necklace in the mail which i intend to wear til it falls off but its a long way to have come to radical self love the way our own countrymen do us( not that much different than the African American experience with about 60% more Pelo Malo Pelo Bueno talk and “Bettering the race” from people that look like you as well… I often say I learned to love myself from my Black People in this country

      • “My white Cuban grandmother, shocked: Wow. “They” drive BMW’s too. (The “they” being a Black man getting into his car.)

        Me: Yeah. Amazing huh? But you know what’s even more amazing? Some gringo is looking into this BMW and thinking the same thing about you.

        *crickets*”

        Oh damn, lmao. Granny didn’t have nothing to say about that huh?

    • JustCrimmles says:

      Speaking to her even having to explain further, just because she’s seen as/is “difficult,” doesn’t mean her feelings on what happened, TO HER, are invalid. Not sure why that is such a hard concept to grasp. (Ok, maybe I do get why it is, some people choose not to think in terms of “these horrible things we like to think no longer happen, still happen, every minute of every day.” Selective, willful ignorance.)

      As for the lime thrower(s), who the hell does that?! Are you a toddler in the throes of a tantrum? No? Then keep your edibles on your person, please and thanks.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        I want to know who the hell eats limes at concerts?

        Agree with you to the letter. And Solange’s experiences are HERS. Throwing doubt at those experiences doesn’t make them go away or make them never have happened. And her past behavior doesn’t nullify her experiences.

    • INeedANap says:

      My parents are Cuban and currently living in Miami. They’ve only ever lived in Cuba or Miami. I currently live in Boston, and have lived in DC, Tucson, and Seattle. They get it now but when they first started visiting me they were SHOCKED and APPALLED that randos were treating my parents differently when they spoke Spanish, or had to reveal their very Latino last name. Or that folks who were racist against black people also hated Latinos, even “nice, educated white Latinos” like my parents.

      My mom once asked me — “but don’t you clarify to them that you’re white? That you can trace your roots to Spain?”

      I tell her: 1) they don’t care. They see us as one big brown blob. 2) I have no interest clarifying anything for anyone who espouses bigotry.

      It’s been a rough ride.

      • Justjj says:

        I witnessed this kind of racism living in Mexico where white skin and blue eyes are still treasured and again being in Asia where literally every beauty product that exists is about whiter skin and larger eyes. Lots of racism in Asia too. As a white person, it was very surreal especially because I have black hair and dark eyes and less than bleached white skin, I still felt like an observer of this phenomenon most of the time and had many moments in Mexico where I did not feel “white” enough. White supremacy is so gross, one of the (the?) most monstrous and destructive forces on the planet, and it’s everywhere. Even at a Kraftwerk concert! I’m hoping the more it gets called out the less and less acceptable it will be. Good for Solange. Shut those people up. Decolonizing our minds is so much harder than it sounds.

  2. Erma Gerd says:

    Ugh people can be so awful. I feel for her.

  3. And that is the minority experience in America.

    I’m trying to be open. I want to belong. I want to believe things have evolved and I will be part of that evolution but even in this crowd of intellectuals, of open minds, I am still an other. Outsider. Judged more harshly for what others do freely. Treated more callously where a please and a smile would be offered to others. I don’t feel safe not because I think you will hurt me, but because I think you all will not help me. Whateve comes. Be it someonee engaging me in racist speech or actions or even mocking or laughing at me under their breath. Throwing more things at me? I don’t know, but when that time comes I fear I will be faced with dozens of similar unfamiliar faces of apathy or worse enjoyment and scorn and I do not feel safe.

    People brought up everything in that last post regarding Solange including asking how and why she’d feel unsafe. Well this is the thing. Large crowds of angry or apathetic white people haven’t exactly had a track record of protecting and respecting blacks. She doesn’t have to feel she’ll get in a fight to feel unsafe, she can simply feel that a moment of enjoyment she hoped to have will also be stolen from her and while others go home to shrug and laugh about that annoying angry black woman who dared to inconvenience them in anyway that experience will cut into Solange’s heart to leave a scar matched by a dozen others of when you had your joy stolen from you simply because of your skin tone.

    Not only to be stolen but to be treated with disbelief and denial when you attempt to share that pain. You feel unsafe, alone, bitter and most of all hardened. You will feel your otherness settle into every aspect of your life till you are the angry black woman who doesn’t have the patience for anything from anyone anymore.

    • Nicole says:

      And I’m crying. You express yourself beautifully, even if th e subject is not.

    • Babalon says:

      This. This is why I have never in my life gone to a concert for a ‘white’ performer. It’s a shame, but I’m not safe in those spaces.

      Thank you so much for this post. You’re always on it.

    • Neelyo says:

      I’ve avoided sports bars my entire life because of the underlying danger of being surrounded by primarily white, hetero males who are drinking.

    • MC2 says:

      One of things that you pointed out that I think people just.don’t.get is that white people can be scary. I am white and grew up in a predominately white city and I bristled when I read the headline yesterday that she felt unsafe in a “white space”. My gut was wtf?! How is a “white space” unsafe?! But then my mind caught up with my stupid lizard brain (this happens quicker & quicker with practice) and told myself to shut up & listen to her story.

      I don’t get that white areas can be scary because I’ve never been scared in one but then I thought about male spaces- ohhh…I’ve been scared in those. Men are not inherently scary on their own but I walked into a bar once and there were just two groups of men looking at me, it was really quite, during the day and I had flashback of the movie with Jodie Foster, paid my tab & ran like the wind. If one of them had thrown a lime at me, I would have screamed, pissed my pants and bolted out the back door. The way men look at you sometimes can scare the hell out of you…..I get that. And my husband doesn’t. He doesn’t fully understand how a look can make you realize that they are predatory & eyeing you and he knows it so he trusts me to tell him when that is happening. And I don’t know the racist look from a white person because I’ve never had to deal with it so I’ll trust poc to tell ME when it’s happening- not ME telling THEM.

      • Yes! I think that’s what the point of these discussions are, to open our minds and consider the circumstances others are putting forward.

        Spaces where a threat can be posed automatically become scarier and if you have had an inner knowledge that there IS a threat and that horrible things HAVE happened to people in those same spaces then you can’t help but feel unsafe.

        I wish more people would examine past the initial but reaction like you did because I think they’d be able to see with compassion that people aren’t trying to offend them but just be honest.

  4. sanders says:

    Kaiser, Thank you so much for making this space for us to to talk about racism. I initially came to this site because I love star gossip. To then discover that this site intermixes star gossip with broader political/societal issues was the absolute best.

    I really appreciated some of the thoughtful analysis of racism from many of the celebitchy women of colour who posted on yesterday’s Solange story. So glad there is a critical mass of poc who get it on here! Also appreciate the white women who get intersectionality, makes me hopeful.

    • Naya says:

      This. Theres something to be said of safe spaces online too. People like to say we shouldnt pay attention to the crap we see peole post online but how can you not? When I watch a sweet facebook video starring a black baby and every comment underneath is just racist scum, I cant shake that off. These are people I may well end up sitting next to at a concert or a plane and they are telling me they loathe a baby for her skin color. Of course it affects how I navigate the world. I find myself constantly measuring whether I am dealing with an ally or someone soaked in prejudice. And then I have to be careful not to confirm all those horrible things I see typed on the internet about my people. Reading those unfiltered thoughts online can make life friggin hard especially when I remember that this is probably closer to their real feelings than anything they say to my face. Anyway, now I can count on three fingers the sites I read comments on and one of them was recently shut down by a man who hates the idea that people like me might actually find online spaces that dont routinely leave us feeling like shit.

  5. Marty says:

    Ok story time. I’m Afro-Latina but I look more Hispanic, my best friend is a dark-skinned black woman, and she LOVES country music. A few years ago she was able to drag me to the Houston rodeo to see a country act. I had my hair the color it is in my avi, my friend had box braids at the time. When we sat down, we were literally the only two PoC in our whole section. Right off the bat we got looks and stares. Both of us had to be on our best behavior, it was never said, we just both just knew. Those people didn’t want us in their space already and we knew we couldn’t call anymore attention to ourselves.

    I felt supremely uncomfortable throughout the whole show, especially as the people around us started drinking more. This is what it’s like for many PoC. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

    • “Both of us had to be on our best behavior, it was never said, we just both just knew. Those people didn’t want us in their space already and we knew we couldn’t call anymore attention to ourselves.”

      That encapsulates it perfectly. Also makes me think of a joke a friend told me, and this was in HS, in being part of a Carribean band and playing in the Deep South.

      She essentially said when she entered the auditorium she casually asked how many black people would be there and the person arranging it said, “Oh about 20 or 30″ and as she started to play and watched the audience fill up…she realized THE BAND had been included in that woman’s estimate. Yep! She and her bandmates too were on their best behavior.

      • QQ says:

        YEESSS I know what you mean, you know you are sticking out for whatever reason ( be it you decided to travel, enjoy a concert/opera/some non stereotypical version of whatever it is that’s expected of you) and people are looking at you as though you don’t belong here and I’m watching you, and i’m “letting you” cook until/unless etc etc

        **Short story time about the earliest time we didn’t “belong” in a space growing up : we did Ballet in Grade school , the teacher never ever put us on anything, she even put the deaf child in as a:cutesy thing” , you see this was school aged nutcracker and other corny productions like so, all inclusive, it wasn’t a matter of good or bad ( we had been training for years/did school theater/choir etc ) so much as she told my mom – they last time she finally had her fill, she had come to the U.S. on a trip and bought us pointe shoes, that is how hard we were practicing/how long – “they just won’t look uniform like the other girls, you know how it is” That was the last time we attended ballet, teacher contacted us once more to ask if we’d be interested in Donating/letting her buy the shoes, we all kindly declined

      • MC2 says:

        This reminded me of an older black man that I knew years ago when I worked at a coffee shop. He would never buy coffee but always pull out his WAD of cash and put a bill in my tip jar. I worried about him because it is a city and he was frail so showing off his cash was not smart. But he told me once that he was a musician (trumpet) and, back in the day, he would play in the all white clubs and they would cheer him & holler but when it was over he had to leave out the back door. He felt really special when they would allow him to drink a beer……Damn that man put a little sliver in my little 19-yr-old white woman heart that day.

    • Amber says:

      That’s awful! I know it must those experiences every single day that add up. Walking on eggshells supposedly for people who do not fully respect POC. I can see where the hurt and anger stems from. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a white girl who only recently opened her eyes and I know it’s not POC’s responsibly to teach me or show me what’s wrong with America, but it’s stories like this that first alerted me to these issues.

    • Sasha says:

      It works the other way too, though. I don’t know how much can be inferred from it.
      I had two similar experiences.

      Once I was in Washington D.C. and I stopped by at a store on my way to a hotel to buy some food. Everyone in the store was black. And everyone turned and watched me with unsmiling, hard stares. Some more overtly than others. It was very scary.

      Another time I was visiting South Chicago, my friend just bought a condo there. It was MLK’s day, there were a lot of people out celebrating. And they were all black. And the same thing happened – they all watched me, unsmiling.

      • Marty says:

        Ok, but do I really have to explain the historical difference of minorities not feeling safe in white spaces? Because it’s one hell of a difference.

      • Amber says:

        I’ve experienced that too, but it didn’t have institutionalized consequences as the reverse. I didn’t walk into a Hispanic party and feel targeted. Unwelcome, weary, yes. But it was probably bc they were questioning my being there.

      • HH says:

        OK. And let me ask, do you only have these TWO experiences? Is your life FILLED with such experiences? Minorities HAVE to move in white spaces ALL the time. Clearly, it works the other way. Just as, for example when foreigners visit other countries, they also get noticed. The issue is minorities are made to feel like they don’t belong in their own countries, in their own neighborhoods, at their own jobs, at their own schools (and the list could go on), DAY IN AND DAY OUT. And when we do things to mitigate such experiences, we get called “reverse racists” because we have Black colleges; or Ebony magazine; or BET. But then we get called “anti-patriotic” when we protest for the right to BE INCLUDED.

      • Sasha says:

        “OK. And let me ask, do you only have these TWO experiences? Is your life FILLED with such experiences?”

        These are the only times (in the US specifically) I found myself exclusively in another race space as you put it, and both times I felt like I was in danger. This never happened to me anywhere else.

        And I can see how it would be horrifying to go through such experience every day. But other countries are not like this. There is something very wrong in the race relationships in the US, so much open anger on all sides. There is no presumption of innocence. As a foreigner I was completely unprepared for it.

  6. Maude says:

    Meanwhile, at a Brian Wilson show in Atlanta this past weekend, I watched the same exact thing go down in front of me. But this time it was an old white lady physically poking the white people standing in front of her to try to get them to sit down. Was she in the wrong? Of course. This happens at basically ever show ever in the history of music.

    People who regularly attend concerts – ever see someone who is sitting on someone else’s shoulders get booed or have things thrown at them? If you haven’t, you haven’t been to very many shows.

    If someone is standing up in front of a cranky person who is sitting down, people will yell, poke, throw things etc. Is it right? No. But I would also reject the idea this is a race problem.

    • Kitten says:

      No, obviously the examples you listed were not due to racism, but that says nothing about Solange’s experience as a black woman in a primarily white venue. It’s just not our place to question her perception or her experience and the fact that she felt obligated to write a detailed essay because a bunch of people didn’t believe her is the problem here. Because as white people, we seem to think that because it has happened to us before that it can’t be racism when it happens to a black person. Sorry but that is entirely untrue. It should be obvious by now but the American black experience is not equal to the American white experience, therefor social situations such as the one Solange described cannot be seen as interchangeable.

      And I would say the same if it was a man telling a woman that she isn’t experiencing sexism. We KNOW what sexism feels like, we KNOW when we’re being treated differently due to our gender and it’s patronizing as hell to be told that we’re just imagining it. We don’t need others invalidating our experiences or telling us that we don’t see what is plain as day.

      • Monie says:

        +1000. Thanks, Kitten!

      • Maude says:

        Except it does happen, routinely, everywhere no matter what color you are and who you’re with in a concert environment. I am not denying racism exists, because of course it does. I do think that calling something racism that is pretty run of the mill concert-related rudeness is damaging to teaching moments about actual racism that happens. I have worked in the music industry and have been to literally thousands of shows. I have seen racism occur at shows. I have seen and have experienced sexual harassment at shows. Saying you had something thrown at you when you were standing in front of people who were sitting just doesn’t equate to racism to me because it happens at essentially every show. Whether it be someone standing and people behind them sitting or it be someone sitting on someone’s shoulders.

        Also, this is not uniquely a concert experience. The same thing happens at sporting events or anywhere where there are large groups of people who are trying to focus on one area.

        Is it right? No. Is it common? Absolutely.

        People can be jerks. And people who are sitting in box seats who get angry because there are people who stand in front of them because people can be jerks. Literal fights break out because of this every single day. It is stupid, but it is reality.

        Additionally, your assumption of “we as white people” is fairly telling.

      • Flowerchild says:

        @Maude

        It is NOT your please to decide when someone experiences racism or when actual racism that happen. Do you not see the entitlement in your comment or are you blinded by it.

        Are you saying that Solange and other on this post are stupid ??? and don’t know the difference between when someone being a jerk and when someone being a racist jerk.

      • Nicole says:

        You are completely on point. I’ll never forget taking 2 of my male friends that were POC and went to public school, oh the shame!, to a predominantly white ‘private school’ party. Those guys were always assholes, but to see how they looked at us and started throwing stuff and hurling insults, made me sick. We left quickly and I stopped being friends with my long time best friend after that. Now she is married to the main asshole!

      • Scotchy says:

        I am a woman of colour, a beige mixie woman of colour. I grew up in small towns full first nations people and white people. I was the odd man out and have throughout my life been subjected to racism, in all of its ignorant glory.
        I go to many different concerts.Most of the concerts I go to are full of white people. I am a person that sits down and I buy my tickets in the sit down section so that I can watch a show without having to stand.
        I am not negating her experience but the situation is heavily one sided.
        Here are some ways in which she as a concert go-er was inconsiderate of the people around here:

        1. she showed up late
        2. was in a seated section at a 3D show in which people were wearing glasses and wanted to be able to see
        3. she was standing and dancing blocking the view. Those women were immature jerks for not asking her politely and throwing a lime, but whose to say she would have actually listened AND whose to say someone else didn’t actually try and approach her and ask her to sit down. We don’t know because we weren’t there.

        If someone showed up late and was dancing and standing right in front of me I would ask them to sit down regardless of their race.
        As much as I don’t want to admit this, back in my drinking days, I was pretty confrontational and if that person didn’t respond to my polite request I would have thrown an ice cube and yelled.
        Me the woman of colour would have if I was drunk and frustrated behaved immaturely.

        I can’t help but feel like those white women were drinking and were a holes and would have been a holes regardless of what race the late comer that was dancing in a sit down section is.

        I don’t think their actions were as racially charged as her article stipulates.
        I think due to the constant attacks like of communal respect we are very aware racist intonations and actions. .. I say this as someone who is of colour and lives in America and has been down south.. I get it, I feel, it’s everywhere…
        This just seems overblown.. NOT her feelings, just the circumstance feels like a stretch..

        Feel free to inter web yell at me..

    • M says:

      Yes! I was just going to say I see this at concerts and sporting events where people stand and the people behind them are sitting and yell etc… It can get quite heated. Never noticed it to be race-related

    • Iknowwhatboyslike says:

      This is the problem: I fundamentally hate it when people try to equivocate and deminish a black person’s experience with racism to “run-of-the-mill” crap that happens to everyone. Yes, run-of-the-mill concert related rudness and incidences happen all the time to everyone. No one is debating that. But here is the thing you have to ask yourself: would that lady have thrown a lime at Solange if she were white? or would she have asked her politely to sit down because she cannot see? It’s the intent behind this woman’s rudeness that left Solange feeling as if this attack was not “run-of-the-mill”. There was something malicious about their motivation that left her feeling as if she and her family were somewhere they don’t belong. It’s not my place nor yours to say that Solange should just shut-up and stop thinking everything is race related. I wasn’t there and neither were you. But something affected her so much that she felt as if race had something to do with it.

      I have been in experiences where there was no overt racism; no one called me the -N-word and no one told me to leave. However, their looks or their lack of acknowledgement (depending on the venue) have left me feeling unwelcomed – again, as if I had no right to be in their space. A lot of white Americans cannot understand this because they have the priviledge to go anywhere and their presence are not questioned. There aren’t broad assumptions about them and their respectability as people. Yes, we aren’t being lynched and they are anti-discrimination laws on the books, but let’s stop acting as if racism -wether overt or not – is doesn’t. It pains me that for anyone to call racism what it is, it has be this over the top, Donald Sterling form of racism.

      • Maude says:

        If you read through my previous posts, you would see that yes, I know someone would throw fruit at a white person in Solange’s position because it happens every single day. I have seen food, water bottles (full and empty), shoes, sunglasses, etc thrown at people. So, yes, I 100% know rude people throw stuff at people of any race that is standing in front of them.

        Solange has her experience, and I have mine. Everyone’s experience is valid. Maybe it was racism, but maybe it wasn’t. She works in music and there is no way she hasn’t seen this in action in her time in music. When evaluating a situation, I like to use critical thinking to determine my own beliefs, rather than just riding a wave of anger.

        I read her statement, and while it is entirely possible there was a racial element, I also read something that is entirely common. To be honest, she sounded entitled, from my perspective. She showed up late to box seats, which is her prerogative, and is mad someone (rudely) threw something at her for standing while people were sitting behind her.

        As I have stated several times, rude people WILL lay hands/yell at/throw stuff at people who stand in front of them at concerts and sporting events. I watched an old white lady push the white people in front of her at a concert this past weekend. I have seen white people throw bottles of water (and sometimes urine) at white girls sitting on white guy’s shoulders. I saw a black guy throw a beer at a white girl sitting on someone’s shoulders.

        Jerks at concerts have no specific race. It is universal.

      • O_o_odesa says:

        It comes down to how she FELT in a white space. Yes, white space is an uncomfortable word and I bristled when I first read it too,
        But white privilege means I’ll never have that experience. It doesn’t matter if the people there were racist of not. It matters that people have been racist in the past and those experiences, cumulated, made the concert uncomfortable for her.

        That’s something I will never truly understand, because even when i am the minority in the room, I am the white minority, and that comes with privilege. That’s where EMPATHY comes in.

    • MC2 says:

      I posted this yesterday but you gave examples of instances where we can definitely say that racism was not a motivating factor in the act or treatment since both people were white but that does not mean that you can suddenly say that proves that Solange’s experience did not have a racial element. It’s not fair for white people to try and credit or discredit her story based on their experiences because we have not dealt with implicit racism on a daily basis- what’s so hard about this to get?! You do not know her experience so rather then trying to make it yours, just listen.

      She felt uncomfortable in an environment where she stuck out like a sore thumb and then she was treated poorly and she is sharing how that made her feel and the race competent to it. Jesus people- try having some compassion! If you waked into an arena full of all men at a sporting event and men started eyeing you, telling you what to do and then throwing things at you and do you think you’d would feel welcome & just shrug and say “maybe it was because I was a woman, but maybe not…..”

      • Maude says:

        You’re right, I have no compassion. I have called the person who threw fruit a jerk numerous times, but I am without compassion. I said it was wrong numerous times, but I have no compassion.

        Thank you for clearing that up for me. I really see myself clearly now.

        Also, I have had things thrown on me multiple times at sporting events. I have never assumed it was because I am a woman. The only time I am sure they meant to hit me was because I was wearing the jersey of the visiting team. The other incidents I just happened to be in the line of fire. People at events can be jerks.

      • MC2 says:

        Maude- I believe you took my comment way too personal……but I do think that a lot of these comments (not the people- the comments since I do not know the people) lack in compassion & some people are not even trying to relate to what this woman is talking about. And it was frustrating me so sorry if I came across too strong. But you missed my point about being in an all male space- not the sports part. I thought women (I know I do) could all relate to the part about the potential to be uncomfortable as a minority in a space filled with the majority, ie- being the only woman in an all male space and how that might feel uncomfortable or like you were being singled out for the thing that made you different but I guess not. Shrug.

    • Shirleygail says:

      Maude, I have to admit, there was a part of me that thought: She arrived late; she certainly wasn’t very courteous to other concert go-ers or the band right there. She made a spectacle of herself standing and dancing when no one else was, and she interfered with other’s right to enjoy the concert. Whilst it would have been better had an usher asked her to sit so those behind her could continue enjoying the show, and NO ONE SHOULD HAVE FRUIT THROWN AT THEM, it kind of bugs me that it’s instantly racism. Yes, it exists. Humans being humans, it will likely always exist, though I wish with my whole heart it didn’t. That we were above this kind of crap. But sadly we’re not. Still and all, it does occur to me…who is acting entitled? Solange seems to have started with ‘i’m a victim’ .. and MAYBE she was, but MAYBE she wasn’t. Maybe someone just got fed up with another person’s rudeness…..

      • Maude says:

        This is my line of thinking – maybe it was, but maybe it wasn’t. This is just such a common occurrence at shows, and it is awful. It is like the lights go out at a show and everyone suddenly thinks they can throw stuff at strangers.

        I don’t know if it was racism, but I do know this is a common rude occurrence at shows. Racism is a massive and real problem, but when people who question racism read something like this, they can rationalize and say ‘that happens to everyone’, and I think that damages actual chances to have conversations to eradicate racism. Just my take.

      • Scotchy says:

        This is my line of thinking too!! It’s nice to not be alone..

    • Annetommy says:

      Three shallow comments on a deep subject
      -Maybe the old lady at the Brian Wilson concert found it difficult to stand for any length of time. Never assume that someone can stand.
      - I recently saw Brian Wilson do the whole of Pet Sounds in concert, it was great, with Matt Jardine outstanding in the band.
      -I like Solange’s red dress in the pics.

  7. BeBea says:

    I understood what she was saying the first time, from my POV, if she hadn’t ignored those ladies and the situation had turn into more who would have looked like the bad guy? Sometimes because of the stereotypes that are place on women of color it’s like we are walking on egg shells and not allowed to be free to ” dance at a concert with out kids”. No one wants to be on guard all the time. So yes dealing with people who are being idiots can turn into something about race really quickly.

  8. Jean Grey says:

    I’ve said this on here before, but for the sake of perspective, here it is again. I am a mixed race Puerto Rican born and raised in urban, pre-hipster Brooklyn. People will tell you I am really good at looking at every side of the coin, but im also great at playing Devil’s Advocate. I also don’t carry an ounce of White Guilt

    I realize that I have a very unique experience from growing up in the Melting Pot, so my first reaction to Solo’s tweets were, well maybe they weren’t racist and they were just telling you to have a seat cuz you’re blocking them. Again, being from NYC, someone saying this with a rude and nasty attitude is par for the course out here so I wouldn’t have thought it anthying of it beyond just being rude. (Yes, including the lime throwing). I’ve seen worse.

    But then I remembered this is Louisiana. And I remember how it felt going down South and how people, specifically White people in places like Birmingham, Virginia, Mississippi, etc are still on another level down there. Many still not far removed from the Segregation era and Confederate flag waving days and I said to myself. Well, she does have a point. And I can understand where she is coming from. And I say this as a more fair-skinned Latina, that I too have perceived the sometimes subtle nuances of being a minority anywhere outside of the Tri-State are. We can’t tell her what to feel or how to react. Yes, it may not have been racist (only those women know for sure) and some may say that it’s Solange’s problem on how she reacts to it, but she has a right to feel the way she does and tell her story. I have no qualms about her using her platform to tell it.

    • Freddy Spaghetti says:

      As someone who lived in the south for decades, there is certainly racism. But I have lived in Philadelphia for a little over a year and it’s the most racist place I’ve ever seen or been. It’s appalling and depressing.

      • Whatwhatnot says:

        I’ve only passed through Philly but have been in other parts of PA. Outside of places like Allentown (which has a big Puerto Rican population), I’ve felt the stares, judgement etc, especially when I’m with my dad who is ethnically Latino and racially Native American and African, so he sticks out more than I do. I notice it a lot more when I’m around him.

  9. SunnyD says:

    The most concerning thing reading the comments recently in race issues was both sides of the coin, black and white discrediting mix people of color. You’re not black enough to be black, not white enough to be white, too dark to be Asian. Discrimination is not just white vs. Black. At this point it’s devolved into ‘sticking to your kind’ or people of color judging other minorities based on race just as harshly as they are judged for their own without the responsibility.

    There will be no race solution until we realize whites are not the only people being racist anymore.

    Its concerning to not know what race myself and my children are ALLOWED to be since we have been rejected because we aren’t black enough, white enough, Asian enough and can’t possibly understand because of the color of our skin.

    If you discriminate based on race you are a racist. It doesn’t matter the color of your skin it’s the voice of your thoughts and actions. Racism has no color.

    • ellemc says:

      From a huffpo article on reverse racism:

      Some people simplify racism as one group not liking another, and think “racist” and “prejudiced” are interchangeable. But racism is a concept that operates on both an individual and institutional level.

      At its core, racism is a system in which a dominant race benefits off the oppression of others — whether they want to or not. We don’t live in a society where every racial group has equal power, status, and opportunity. Yes, white people all over the world and throughout history have experienced atrocities like slavery and persecution. But in the very specific context of American history, white people have not been enslaved, colonized, or forced to segregate on the scale that black people have. They do not face housing or job discrimination, police brutality, poverty, or incarceration at the level that black people do. This is not to say that they do not experience things like poverty and police brutality at all. But again, not on the same scale — not even close. That is the reality of racism.

      • SunnyD says:

        So yet another person not seeing their own racism by telling me my point about being shunned by all 3 ethnic groups I belong to.

        Of course I don’t understand racism because I’m only half black. I’ll let you know how much that 1/4 ever helps me or my kids. Not accepting that racial tensions come from all angles and even within ones own race is why nothing is getting solved.

    • ellemc says:

      I guess I am trying to argue that people who say that racism has no color need to think about 1) the privilege whiteness confers on a global scale, and 2) the difference between racism (which is often institutional) and prejudice. Everyone can be prejudiced, yes. But white people have privileges black people do not, just based on institutional racism. It happens in the courthouse, it happens when cops pull us over, the neighborhoods we live in, being more likely to get in trouble with authority when there is an argument (i.e. Male POCs get expelled from school, white ones suspended) -maybe even at a concert…

      • SunnyD says:

        Then you tell me what happens if you educate all the whites on the planet about race and you still have blacks favoring light skin, my own half Chinese mother sighing at how ‘nothing’ I look. How people constantly ask my kids ‘what are you?’ A question never asked by whites but rather minorities looking to see where to put us.

        You can’t say one discrimination is worse that another and you can’t globally blame it on white people. You can’t change the colour you were born and you can’t change the past. The only way to get through this is to remove all the chips from our shoulders and stop trying to make one racism worse than another, because at the end if the day you are only perpetuating the sickening cycle.

    • Scotchy says:

      I too am a beige mixie and we get it from all sides us mixes. They want to claim us when we excel then discredit us if we don’t fall into line usually with whichever part of our mix is more obvious…

      It’s all around.. my take, let’s all mix it up and make this planet beige, beige beautiful beige :)

  10. Brittney B. says:

    The fact that her child and his friend were automatically associated with the electronic cigarettes… reminds me much too much of Tamir and Trayvon. We have a serious social problem with viewing black male bodies as older, stronger, more likely to break the rules/law.

    And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg with this story. I’m glad another woman defended her loudly in the moment… but also sad that for many, her story will be more legitimate because a white woman thought it was offensive too.

  11. Sixer says:

    I saw some comments at the end of yesterday’s thread suggesting that some posters were thinking of taking a break from the site because it’s all so exhausting, patiently explaining this stuff over and over again. Can I just say?

    PLEASE DON’T.

    Some of us are listening. I don’t often say much on these threads because I am on the other side of a big pond and don’t always get all the shades of meaning in everything. But I read everything religiously and I do take enormous value from it.

    • Kitten says:

      Right on.

    • SilverUnicorn says:

      Sixer… we’re getting our fair share of xenophobia and racism here (although unrelated from mass oppression and systemic slavery as it is in USA), it has been especially evident since Brexit.
      I’ve been told to go home, threatened and insulted since the referendum and I just tick the ‘other white’ box in the race part on questionnaires or application forms. I’ve not seen an Asian or POC around in months, I guess they don’t feel safe out and about?
      I don’t feel safe either and I don’t go around much on my own without my ‘clearly 100% British’ husband.
      Considering Britons are attacking Poles out of spite and xenophobia, I cannot even fathom what it means to be a POC in USA these days.
      My heart goes out to them and yes I totally believe Solange about the overt racism at the concert.

      • Sixer says:

        I’m sad, Silver. Both generally and that anyone would make you feel like that. It’s the same house , racism – only the shade of the front door is different in different countries.

        One of the reasons I don’t always say much on these threads. I kinda don’t want to derail the conversation with our own tales of woe.

        But a Polish man was recently murdered in the UK post-Brexit. Apparently, for speaking Polish in public. This is where we are. And it is not a good place. It doesn’t matter if it’s just the horrible few or if they have been stoked beyond reason by a vile section of the tabloid press. It’s for EVERYONE to put right. Not to go about saying but this but that, as some are doing here with this incident with Solange.

    • MC2 says:

      I wish this site had a way to upvote…..when I saw the comments yesterday my head just about exploded and so I wish there was a way to see that other people were connecting & understanding certain posts even though they were commenting.

  12. Greenieweenie says:

    When it comes to identity, you get to decide who you are. One thing I can’t stand is when people try to tell you where you’re from or what your nationality is (if you’re the kind of person from nowhere in particular). Who and what we see in ourselves has so much to do with our relationship to the world around us. So you can be a minority in a collection of minorities and feel very much at home. Or you can be a minority surrounded by white people who don’t share a common culture, and still feel like part a diverse group.

    Or you can be a minority surrounded by a relatively homogenous, strong, white majority culture and always feel like an outsider. The funny thing is this doesn’t always have to do with race. You can be non-white and still identify with that culture. Or you can be white, but an outsider. The point really is about belonging. And the first step to belonging is insiders not defining the identity of outsiders. That’s exactly what those white women were doing, whether they realized it or not. They saw black–different–and they decided outsider. ITA with Solange; the best response is to insist that you belong and that they will not command the space.

  13. Josefina says:

    It just boggled my mind how illogical people were in their denial of racism. You read about something in a gossip blog, and you understand the situation better than the woman it happened to? Girl. Even when you leave the racial aspect out – that just makes no sense.

    • teacakes says:

      And this is not the first time either – remember the first post about Zendaya and the rude Vons store clerk? Everyone doubted her because “why would the clerk throw her wallet at her, why would they even have it in the first place?” (to check ID).

  14. Crox says:

    How is not thinking this particular incident was racist denying racism all-together? There’s way too many racism around, I know that. But this case – nah, I don’t see it. I’ve been on too many ruined concerts to buy that.

    I’m glad she expended the story. The first example with the cigarettes is indeed awful. So is the Twitter reaction she got afterwards (discussed before). But the rest, she was also guilty here, no matter how you try to spin the story. It was a sit-down concert, not a dance-type concert. She acted inappropriately and disturbed the experience of others. If she can’t acknowledge that, then there’s no hope for her to understand what went wrong. While the motive of the women could be racial, there is nothing there to point to that.

    “This is a band that were pioneers of electronic and dance music. Surely the audience is going to expect you to dance at some point. You were planning on sitting down after this song, as long as it wasn’t one of the four songs that you really connect with and plan on getting down to.”

    Sorry, but no. I headbang on The Ring Cycle at home. I don’t do it in a concert venue. If I did, I’d be kicked out. That’s what she doesn’t seem to grasp with her “surely the audience is expected to dance”. Not necessarily, it depends heavily on the venue and the crowd. As for the rest of this quote – the audience members behind her couldn’t possibly know she was planning to sit down after that one song. All they knew is that they can’t see because of her.

    • Amber says:

      Just no. It’s everything in context. She did not say it was overt racism, although the one ladies comments implied it was. This was a racially charged interaction in the context of an already racially charged evening. Just because it wasnt overt doesn’t make it less so. Please try your best to see that.

      • Crox says:

        Oh I’m trying, but I’m far from being there.

        The direct quote she provided is “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now”. That’s rude, but not racist. And if her description of the event is correct, also understandable, because she was ruining somebody’s evening. I’m a frequent concert goer (of a very different style of music). I can completely understand how somebody can destroy another person’s experience by behaving unconventionally. If a person at a sit-down event would stand up and block my view, I’d ask them to sit down too. Nicely. That usually works, so I have no idea what I’d do if they kept standing, but I’m sure I would have done something.

        As for racially charged evening … The person who commented on cigarettes was not the same person who yelled at her. She might feel targeted for her race because of the first incident which wasn’t her fault, and she can definitely argue racism for that. And I do understand how she could then feel less comfortable. But that still doesn’t make the second incident racist. They are two separate events.

        The apology of the third lady doesn’t indicate anything in particular. Only that she did not do or say that and she doesn’t want people to think she did. That’s fair.

      • Amber says:

        I’m glad! 4 months ago I would been right alongside you with this.

        Put yourself in her shoes. Not just in that moment, but all of the time. You know that feeling when you’re not welcome so every interaction is tainted with it?

        I can speak to this only as a woman in a male dominated industry, where things get mansplained to me or subtle sexual undertones are in daily conversations or I’m complimented for “not being a typical emotional woman”. I get paid less than my male counterpart who does not have a degree and has less experience.

        You know when someone doesn’t like you without them saying it. That’s what solange was trying to say. She experiences t all of the time. She knows what it is and how it feels.

        Keep reading and talking; it will click! I promise.

      • Crox says:

        Trust me, I get all that. That’s why I am not speaking about her in general nor about her whole evening, just that one incident. I know it sounds awful, but it still looks to me that she just cannot admit she did something wrong too.

        IF the woman who called her and threw that lime was racist, that is a different issue and I can completely see that as a possibility. Would she react the same way if Solange was white? We’ll never know. However the way Solange herself described the situation, it sounds like the major issue was with her blocking the woman’s view. Even the fact how she tries to defend her standing up points to that. Racism could play a part, sure, but her behaviour seems to play the bigger one.

      • Sixer says:

        Crox – but this incident doesn’t even hinge on whether or not the women who threw lime were being intentionally racist and Solange is explicit about that. That’s the whole point! This is the experience of a woman living in a society that has a big problem with racism. This is the narrative I took from Solange’s essay:

        Black woman has lifelong history of racist microaggression incidents.
        Black woman goes to mostly white event so immediately feels other.
        Black woman’s children are wrongly racially profiled by staff.
        Black woman dances.
        Black woman is aggressively rebuked and has trash thrown at her.
        Black woman writes about this experience.
        Black woman experiences racist backlash.
        Black woman is sick to the teeth of living in a society with a racism problem.

        What did you take from this essay, other than an impulse parse every phrase in order to find something you can doubt?

      • Crox says:

        Sixer – I got mostly what you’ve written there, the only difference is that, explicitly with the dancing bit, she did something extremely inappropriate and when she experienced consequences, she refused to admit her own fault too, demonstrated by her defending that behaviour in the essay.

        I am not talking about her life-experience, just this one incident, because this was the one she brought up as an example of racism. She singled it out first, not me. I do understand she feels society being racist. I just think she used a bad example to point it out. The cigarettes incident would be a better one.

      • Sixer says:

        But you are still missing the point, Crox. She is giving the whole evening as an illustration of what it is like to be a black woman in a racist society. For all we know, the women were being deliberately racist. For all we know, the women are racists who don’t think they are racists and because they actually are racists responded more aggressively than they would have responded to a white person. For all we know, the women are not racist at all and just didn’t like her standing up and dancing.

        IT’S NOT ABOUT THAT.

        It’s you making it about that, not Solange. And, by making it about that, you are refusing to hear the experience of a black woman in a racist society. Which, if you are living in a racist society and would prefer not to be, as I’m sure is the place you see yourself as coming from, should be your priority. Just, for heavens sakes, HEAR this woman.

      • Crox says:

        I always side-eye a story if examples are bad, that’s just my thing. I get what she’s trying to say and I believe she’s feeling all that. But that’s not enough for me if the story SHE HERSELF provided paints her as the one in the wrong. If anything, it has the opposite effect on me, and that’s more worrisome.

      • MC2 says:

        Sixer- preach! “But you are still missing the point, Crox. She is giving the whole evening as an illustration of what it is like to be a black woman in a racist society” YES!

        Crox- It is not about S being the bad one and not about the lime throwing on it’s own. It’s in the larger context here. How she felt walking into a place in the south in USA and being one of few black people & how she was treated. It is about the implicit racism that exists & how that makes people feel. If you don’t know what that might be like then just listen rather then trying to ‘decide’ what is the truth. The truth doesn’t really matter and no video will get to the point we are trying to get at. It is about the way it FELT to be black in the venue, that night, for her.

        I posted this above but I have thought about how I would feel being in an all male venue and the things that could happen that would dictate how I felt but you’d never be able to ‘prove’ on camera or call out the smoking gun. I’ve had men treat me in the most sexist ways but there is no obvious statement or action to call out……but he knew & I knew. And having someone doubt that experience or ask for the receipts can really suck. I have had a man make me scared and when someone asked “well- what exactly did he say that scared you? What exactly did he do?” and it would be impossible to explain.

        The other day a man mentioned to me walking around my city late at night and where did I walk to when I’m by myself at night and I looked at him and laughed “Dude- I don’t get to walk around my city late at night by myself.” It didn’t dawn on him because that is not his experience. Once I explained it he said “oh- I get it! Bummer!” And I don’t think of the fact that I am in an all white venue and how that makes a POC feel because it doesn’t affect me like it does them and I have never been the victim of racism like they have.

        Solange isn’t asking for the lime thrower to get arrested- she is just asking for us to hear a frustrating experience that she had being her and that a lot of other people can relate to. If you can’t relate to it, then just listen rather then trying to discredit it.

      • Crox says:

        MC2 – All of you are repeating the same thing. And I will repeat too: I cannot take her as seriously as I should, because the one direct proof she gives is, in my opinion, weak. And if the evidence is bad, I will not immediately support their claim. It’s as simple as that.

        That’s not negating racism, nor terrible experiences POC go through every day, nor fear of white spaces nor wish to fit in. All these problems are real as hell. But when it comes to Solange in particular and her Kraftwerk evening, with this example she just looks like a guilt-shifter. So yeah – no.

    • Josefina says:

      Revolutionary idea: Maybe Solange was being obnoxious AND the other audiece members were being racist.

      Rude and obnoxious black people are black too. And as such they can be victims of racism. One thing doesnt nullify the other.

      And ultimately… You were not there. You just read about it in a gossip blog. You dont even have the other side of the story. You’re in no position to tell her what actually went down.

      • Crox says:

        “Revolutionary idea: Maybe Solange was being obnoxious AND the other audiece members were being racist.”

        Completely possible. Not indicated here, tho.

        “Rude and obnoxious black people are black too. And as such they can be victims of racism.”

        Again, I agree. But rude and obnoxious people can be confronted about their behaviour regardless of their skin colour, too. When you have another factor present, you cannot assume it’s just the other thing.

        And I’m not telling HER anything. I’m writing in comments on a gossip blog.

      • Josefina says:

        You notice you’re basing all of this off a GOSSIP BLOG? That’s a more unreliable source than flappin wikipedia. You’re not telling her what happened but you’re telling us her version of the story is not true, even though you werent there.

        Im not the most racially sensitive or socially concious user here. Like, at all. But I wont pretend to understand a situation better than the people who lived it.

        What’s so wrong with her accusing others of racism? Its not like she’s asking for her money back or anything. She’s not suing. She just shared her experience and people feel the need to discredit it. Why? Why do you need to defend that lime thrower? Im seriously asking.

      • Crox says:

        “You’re not telling her what happened but you’re telling us her version of the story is not true, even though you werent there.”

        I’m not *telling* you anything, I am only explaining why I think she might have misinterpreted a piece there. It’s an opinion of mine, based on my experience with obnoxious concert goers, I’m not claiming this is the case. As you said, I was not there.

        And here’s the reason why I think “you only read one side of the story” doesn’t work here as an excuse:
        If this was a third party report, I’d agree with you, because sure, somebody uninvolved cannot speak for a third person.
        If this was a two-party report, where each side told a slightly different version, I’d agree with you again – you hear two truths, each a bit skewed, and the truth is normally somewhere in the middle.
        But this is a one-party report of a person directly involved. She has all the means of telling the story the way she wants it. And I believe her that this is how it went down, and I believe her that she felt the incident was connected to race. I believe all that. What I don’t necessarily believe (not saying it’s not true, only that it might not be, because there are more factors involved) is that Solange nailed that woman’s motivation.

        Because Solange behaving inappropriately could have been a contributing factor too. The one the was actually addressed by that woman. Or do we disagree here too?

        That’s it.
        And it’s not meant to negate her experience as a whole.

    • Trixie says:

      “As for the rest of this quote – the audience members behind her couldn’t possibly know she was planning to sit down after that one song. All they knew is that they can’t see because of her.”

      That’s true. There is no way anyone around Solange would be able to know her intentions. I understand why the women would tell her to sit down since she was blocking their view (in the box seats! they paid for) and they didn’t know if she was ever going to stop. But that doesn’t excuse lime-throwing. There is never a reason to turn violent on someone.

      • Crox says:

        I agree nobody should throw things at anyone. I am not defending abuse, only questioning Solange’s interpretation of a stranger’s motivation.

  15. Trixie says:

    I believe Solange’s version of events happened the way she perceived them to happen – like, this is what she observed, heard, and saw.

    But might it be possible that the women had asked politely at first but because the music was loud Solange didn’t hear them, and then the women got pissed thinking Solange was ignoring them, and that’s when they got rude?

    Just a thought. Not trying to defend against lime-throwing because OMG those people should have been kicked out for that.

  16. Solcy says:

    She is exactly right! As a Dominican woman, who some people confuse as white I don’t see it as often as I do when I’m with my darker skinned mother. I fully understand that not everyone is blatantly racist but it is important for white people to realize that most acts of racism are not blatant. Majority of the times it is very subtle, even subconscious…but it is still racism! When people of color tell you their encounters with racism we are not telling you “you suck, and you are racist” we are just saying “hey, this happened to me and it made me feel this way. I hope that if you ever find yourself in this situation, in whatever capacity you realize what is happening and hopefully be a helpful ally”. Also, if you are one of the people who is subconsciously racist, maybe reading about it will help you see what the other side of that conversation feels like and hopefully you would at least think twice before doing it again. When you read these stories, just listen. We can see, hear and feel racism when we encounter it. Don’t discredit our intelligence by trying to rationalize it for us. Majority of the time, we rationalize it ourselves. When we speak out, it is 99% of the time because we have reached a breaking point.

  17. Lala says:

    It’s not just a particular experience that she described. It’s this ever present free floating hostility that just adds up. You can’t always scale things up and point finger at something but please stop minimizing and all together discrediting people’s experiences. If she felt unwelcomed and unwanted is it that damn hard to believe her???

  18. Melody says:

    Great essay – she is astute and avoids overstatements which raise defenses and tempt pushback rather than listening. I hope she writes more.

  19. Greenieweenie says:

    Also people who don’t get this should spend time in a (diverse) classroom of middle schoolers. You will see differences in how the kids are treated–who is praised, who is held accountable. You can see some kids internalize the treatment and other kids fight back. You see them reaching and trying on different identities as if there were an unspoken ranking (there is). You can also see the socioeconomic problems writ large, across the whole school, by race: who is coming to school hungry; who is passing out in class or bruised; who wears the same clothes every day; who has behavior problems; who is 13 years old and has a butterfly tattooed on her arm.

    I think if your understanding of racism is n-word deep (“no racial epithets were hurled so it can’t be racism!” even though it sounds like slurs were used), you desperately need to get out more.

  20. Sarah says:

    Where things like this are concerned, the opinions of white people are irrelevant. I could care less what you perceive or want to grasp at straws to explain away those women behaviors. I just no longer care what any of you think about our encounters. Keep your discrediting of our experiences to your circle of white people and leave us the hell alone. I’m a fairly happy go lucky black woman but when it comes to whitesplaining, I’m over it. I’ll just place you in the “dead to me” pile and move on. Not all white people are as condescending as some of you so I still have hope. Not much hope but there’s still some left before I read twitter and realize it’s time to become antisocial.

  21. me says:

    As a person of color I always feel a responsibility to always be on my “best behavior”. It sucks always having to worry about representing your entire race wherever you go. God forbid you go somewhere and someone else of your race is making a fool of themselves…you tend to want to hide and feel embarrassed. It sucks because I highly doubt white people feel this. Or am I wrong?

    • Greenieweenie says:

      Religion can work this way. If you’re lucky enough to be raised in a religious sect that requires you to wear your faith.

    • Kat says:

      White people in Europe feel like this about people of their own nationality making fools of themselves. In Germany we have a nice word for it “Fremdschämen”, which is feeling shame because of someone else’s behaviour.

    • Amber says:

      I feel that way about women too!!! I was in a meeting where a frustrated woman started to cry. I thought Omgosh, she’s making me look bad by extension bc she is confirming what men think. My boss wisened me up and said no. He told me that if those men generalized her behavior to me, then they were in the wrong and I didn’t have to prove anything or apologize.

    • I Choose Me says:

      You are not wrong.

      I remember a comment about Leslie Jones on another thread. Another POC was criticizing her for being, in the commenter’s opinion, stereo-typically black. She is not demure. She is not quiet. She is loud and enthusiastic and unapologetically herself but some of us as black people have been conditioned to view this as wrong. Because we’ve had to be better, more polite, not disruptive, to be humble and above all not to show off or show out. Else we discredit our entire race. It’s pernicious and festering; yet another symptom of the disease that is racism.

      Also, I’ve experienced micro-aggression in my own home. I used to belong to the LDS church way back when. I had one missionary boy react with disbelief that I’d read all those books when he saw my book shelf. I live in the Caribbean and I think they were expecting us all to be poor and uneducated (and thus easily led). I also used to work front desk in a hotel for a few years and during that time experienced and saw far too many instances of racism both overt and subtle to name.

      I believe her.

    • kay says:

      As a 3rd generation white Canadian, living on unceded first nations territory, I will tell you: yes. THIS white person feels saddened and embarrassed and ashamed of how other white people behave and think, quite often…starting with my family, and ending with a lot of my fellow generational immigrants.
      I am an earthling first and a human woman second and a north American third, and THAT is the basis of how I interact with all the other humans around me.
      I do not and will not discount the perspective or experiences of those who are not me, because I have not walked in my shoes.
      I can and will ask questions, I can and will try to find ways to see through others eyes and the times I can’t..well, I remember that just because I can’t doesn’t mean it isn’t or cannot be.

    • Fiorella says:

      Not really … But when I realize I’ve acted innapropriately I feel mortified. Honestly it would be nice if everyone wanted to be on their best behaviour for society and not because they’d be perpetuating any stereotypes. My hippy parents never taught me to be considerate of others (in the small basic ways) and I was also isolated in many ways.. I learned a lot from my husband. His mom missed a lot of other things but she’s manipulative so in general she is good at making other people feel comfy and he picked up on that and often corrects me (after the fact.) and I always feel really embarrassed because it’s rude and makes be look low class or dumb for my age. (Being totally candid here, no offense intended with the “low class” phrasing.) I’m sorry that racism casts such a shadow that you experience that. May I ask what you would do differently or what you sometimes want to do but don’t, due to wanting to be on your best behaviour? I also lived in France and found them stricter on public norms, and I thought it seemed good for society, compared to North America.

  22. Blaire Carter says:

    You know what–as a half black half white woman, it’s been bothering me up until this article how I am perceived and how much as an American, I wish I could be white just so I can have that amazing sigh of relief on a daily basis like, “Thank God I’m at least white”. Well I just had it as a woman of color *le sigh* because I realize that I could die right now. We are all are at death’s door. It doesn’t care what color you are..it’s coming for you. Oh god that sounds so simplistic and morbid but it personally gave me that sigh of relief.

    I’m sitting here trying to recapture the feeling, to put it into words but it was so brief that words cannot describe it. I felt alive. I felt race-less. I felt like a being that will one day die.

  23. eto says:

    Yesterday’s Solange post was a mess as well as Zendaya’s post. It was actually kind of shocking to see a site full of generally progressive minded folks take such archaic stances on racism. Funny enough, I think it was also an example of how uncomfortable it can be as one of the few POC people in a majority white space. Props to the ladies who stuck it out in those comment threads.

    • sanders says:

      It’s less than thrilling to see posts from white women who totally get sexism in all its nuances but completely miss the same in how we experience racism.
      I ignore those comments because I don’t think they advance the plot, move as forward in any way.
      Still, there is enough intelligent and thoughtful poc on here that we can push back and contest those backward ideas just by talking to each other about our experiences as well as sharing our analysis about the dynamics of racism. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about disputing these clueless comments. I actually think it’s a waste of energy though it’s easy to get sucked into it.
      And most importantly, the site administrators continue to frame these discussions in an anti-racist vein. That’s why I keep reading and commenting.

      • Kat says:

        As a woman there are times when I am sure the treatment of my person was sexist. But I also know that in other instances it’s not as clear and it might just be my perception. For example: old guy yelling at me in the street for a minor infraction (or so he thinks). I feel he’s sexist and that he wouldn’t dare yell at a man the same way he’s yelling at me. I think he believes I’m an easy target because I am woman and not trained and strong enough to fight back. But I don’t know whether that is really true. He might. Or he might not. He’s gone and I will never know.

        There are definite instances of sexism, racism etc. and there are ambiguous situations. In the concert context, I know that I myself would get super angry if anyone did what Solange was doing right in front of me regardless of their race or gender. So I tend to give the benefit of the doubt here. It’s not really anti racist to call someone’s actions racist only because of their perceived race. That said I do think Solange has circumstantial reason to perceive that incident as racist, whether it was our not. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  24. Helena says:

    It seems like Solange was unlucky to meet some rude people at the concert. But she made it about race, sure

  25. Kat says:

    Coming in late, then dancing in front of others when everyone else is already seated just seems extremely rude and entitled. I am not surprised she got rude replies to that, even though throwing stuff certainly is over the top.

    From an outside view the severity of the reaction to their behaviour could have been racially motivated or it could not have been, we’ll probably never know for sure.

    Regardless of the actual motivation behind it, there are reasons why she perceived it as racially motivated: previous experience, societal climate etc. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think it’s that important for the discussion what the actual motivation behind this incidence was, when racial discrimination clearly is so rampant that poc can’t help but feel targeted.

  26. Tash says:

    Hmm, I read the whole essay and I’m baffled why people still don’t see this as an example of blatant bigotry. Yes, maybe some people look at Solange & her fam arriving late and dancing as rude but it doesn’t excuse what happened next ->
    “You inhale deeply. Your husband calmly asks the group of women did they just throw trash at you. One woman says, ‘I just want to make it clear, I was not the one who yelled those horrible, nasty, things at you.””

  27. Juluho says:

    Living near ATL it’s easy for me to see racism is real, I wonder why it’s so difficult for so many? Willfully looking away? Insulated communities? It must be the latter? Because even in a white community you have to see the news right? See things like the police officer that brutally knocked down a AA girl at a pool party? Or the school guard who attacked that AA girl in class to get her out of her desk? How do you miss that if its not willfully looking away?

    On a lighter note, I CANNOT BELIEVE she didn’t use this moment to say “Stop interrupting my grinding”; because ‘Sorry’ is on repeat in my car and I feel like it’s an appropriate response to everything.

  28. Colette says:

    I read Solange piece last night and I posted on the other Solange post this morning my experience this morning.I am staying at a hotel and was mistaken for a housekeeper.I was asked when I could clean another guest’s room.This his happened literally dozens and dozens of times before.This time was a little different because although I am usually dressed in black or white and black.Today I was wearing a pink silk blouse and black pants.What is it about me they would give someone the impression that I was a housekeeper not a hotel guest(or I didn’t belong)?

    This is my frustration of knowing my family has been in this country for over 300 years and yet some people treat me like I’m a visitor.One of the tweets Solange got said, “Go back to Africa” it always makes me chuckle when people whose families have lived in this country one hundred or two hundred years tell others whose families who have been here longer to”Go Back to Africa”. Also when I hear,”We are going to take America Back”,take it back from who,the people who built it.? I don’t have time to discuss my thoughts on Christopher Columbus,The Pilgrims,Native Americans,etc.

    I don’t expect everyone to understand but try to listen and not just hear.Your opinion is not my reality.

  29. Littlestar says:

    I hear what she’s saying about the disbelief of total strangers behaving towards you like that. A couple of years ago I was in a sports bar and in order to exit I had to cross a crowded dance floor. As I passed through the crowd I passed in front of a white woman, this apparently upset her. She began following me through the crowd while tapping on my should shouting “you’re a f***ing Chicana aren’t you?” repeatedly. I kept walking and walked out of the place, she stopped following me near the exit. I had no reaction because I couldn’t even process what was happening as it happened, just disbelief. It wasn’t until I got into the car and started telling my friend what happened that it really hit me.

    • Six of Nine says:

      Complaining about somebody blocking your view at a concert is a legitimate demand.
      Calling somebody swearwords or harassing them is at least a criminal offense.

  30. BeepBoop says:

    POC and I went to the Kraftwerk show in MD, the show has a lot of 3-D elements so it’s just not an audio experience but a visual one too (you even get Kraftwerk branded 3-D glasses) and all the songs were being accompanied by their own videos. So Solange was being pretty terrible to the people around her.

  31. original kay says:

    So, Ive waited all day to see whether or not I should comment on this thread. I thought long and hard about comments yesterday and my own contribution to the topic, thought whether or not I had something constructive to say.

    I decided I do. I direct my comments to those saying “it’s jerk behaviour, it happens at concerts, it happens in large crowds, it’s not racist, it’s just asshats” because that is exactly what I said yesterday. Go look, mine is the first comment on the thread. I said those things.

    Then some people posted, and some I dismissed, and then I kept reading. 2 posts stood out. Shambles being the first. The 2nd I don’t recall the poster of, which is too bad. Go read Shambles post, you’ll find it posted under mine first post, in the OT. She basically said “just listen”. Listen to what, I wondered. I am listening? I’m reading, I’m here, I’m listening. Only, I was not. I was reacting, in my head, I was mentally talking back to each poster trying to clarify my position. I wasn’t listening at all.

    The 2nd post said something like this: If you have never had to wonder, even for a moment, if the way you are being treated, looked at, or spoken to, was because of the colour of your skin, sit down. Just sit down. And listen.

    Don’t think. Don’t react. Don’t try to make sense of it, to relate to it, to justify your responses to it. Clear your mind, and read it. Just listen.

    So I apologize to those who showed me my own white privilege yesterday. I’m sorry. I am listening. <3

    • Wow. That took a lot of dignity and courage. I genuinely want to say I’m impressed and grateful that other’s words reached you and I hope in these discussions you come to see things from that outside perspective that you had been refuting before.

    • Greenieweenie says:

      I think the world would be a fundamentally better place if we looked for the humanity in everyone. So when we encounter a situation that doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, we don’t react to it. Instead, we ask questions and try to piece together the logic of the situation. If you have ever lived in a country very different from your own, this will be second nature as you have no choice. But white culture in America generally does not do this. The US is about the melting pot: come to US, learn about US, join US.

      Imagine if all the naysayers really worked at understanding how their daily lives might be different if they were a different race. The only way to navigate that is to ask people who look non-white about their life experiences. That requires seeing the humanity in them–seeing that their life experience is just as valuable and as worthy of attention and as nuanced and complex as yours. It could have been yours, with the toss of a coin. I really think if we recognized ourselves in the Syrian refugee, the Chinese peasant, the Communist Party member, the fascist, the white supremacist, the white establishment, the black athlete or president–we would understand the world better. We wouldn’t be so afraid of what we aren’t familiar with because we would understand that it’s just us under different circumstances. So to me, denial or an unwillingness to listen and learn from others is absolutely a form of racism/classism/sexism. One major evil in this world is ideology, and it’s no accident that ideology listens to no one.

      Sorry, rambling thoughts. Basically, I have been shocked many times by the pernicious ways we dehumanize others. And I think the cure is to humanize–to see ourselves in others. That cannot happen absent a willingness to listen and think deeply. Empathy is everything.

  32. Kate says:

    She was being exceptionally rude (as freakin always) and she got called out on it.

    Seriously, she arrived majorly late (the song she came in on is played about a third into the show, it’s not like she was 5 minutes late). That by itself is shocking behaviour, if she wasn’t a celeb I doubt she’d have even gotten in. She chose to buy seats in the one area that denotes seated seats at almost all concerts, rather than floor tickets. She walks in with a group and immediately starts dancing, even though a quick glance at the seating arrangements and the videos playing should have told her that was so not the place and that she’d be completely blocking people. The Kraftwerk 3D concert is extremely visual, if your view is blocked you’re missing the main point of the show. It’s the same as someone wandering into a movie 30 minutes late and deciding to stand in the seats right in front of you. Except you paid hundreds of dollars to see this movie and you can’t just go again another night because the movies only playing tonight. No one would put up with that.

    At the Kraftwerk 3D concerts I’ve been to people got kicked out for standing and blocking other people. It’s treated like theatre or opera, not a run of the mill concert. Solange just got told to sit down and she got lucky frankly. Those women could have found an usher and got her thrown out within 2 minutes of arriving.

  33. MidnightGirl says:

    I’m not denying there could be racism involved in what happened. But I really wonder why no one has just wondered if Solange was simply blocking someone’s view and those white ladies would have been upset with anyone doing that, not just a black woman. Like maybe she was actually being kind of rude blocking someone’s view. Obviously no one else was standing and dancing as she said, so if she was the only one standing she definitely would have been in the way. I don’t think this is a racial issue, I think she was probably just being rude and didn’t realize she was in the way and the women she was blocking, who happened to be white just handled it the wrong way, too aggressively and she assumed it was racially driven instead of driven by her own inconsiderate actions. I think it’s racist on white people to assume their actions are racially motivated when that situation would probably annoy any race of human.

    • Six of Nine says:

      Excellent comment!

      I admit that I have been accidentally and unintentionally rude, too, and I had never ment to do that. I was embarrassed and I was honestly sorry and I excused and tried to make up for it and that was it then. (The thing was that I forgot to open a non-automatic door for a lady with a baby stroller. I am still sorry).

      Did Solange excuse for blocking the view? Does she even acknowledge that she might have been rude? Does she try to understand that perhaps she was seated in a no-dancing section instead of a dancing-section?

      I honestly just see a social misunderstanding here and I honestly see no fairness in how Solange handles this.

  34. Rivkah says:

    I am a POC and I don’t have “ancestry-given rhythm”. In fact, I can’t dance to save my life. Blame my deficient motor skills.

  35. Tia says:

    Another possible example of ‘but no one said anything about his skin colour’, UK Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah gets told to go to the back of an airline boarding line coming back from Rio, apparently on the basis that as a Black man he couldn’t possibly have a business class ticket (that’s certainly his wife’s view of things). Delta airlines is ‘investigating’.

  36. Mieke says:

    ESSAY ALERT

    I believe strongly that people who want to explain situations like these as non-racist, are people who cannot believe racism in that form actually still exists. Because they would not act like that in one way or another. If you are white and someone defines her surroundings as white, you feel like she’s addressing you. Now if you don’t have a cell inside your body believing PoC are any less than “whites”, you feel like you need to defend yourself. So in essence this is not a bad thing, it’s actually somewhat of a good sign, it means many people feel that everyone is equal. Does it really matter why they feel we’re all equal? I don’t think so. Is it OK to believe racism doesn’t exist because you are not like that or haven’t experienced it in one way or another. NO!

    What is important is that racist people are also plain a**holes. Nothing other than an all too familiar feeling can be evidence of the racial factor involved (well and the fact one of the women blaming the others of using some horrible expressions). And that’s what makes it so hard. No hard evidence. No contract stating; all my a**holery was based on racist thoughts in my mind, please sign here if you agree.

    And in the end, does it matter? A**holes are a**holes. If you’re a PoC, they will be stupid enough to project some superiority complex only proving their own insecurity and bigot minds. But racism is also a self-perpetuating problem; if you keep on blaming others in situations where racism is actually not happening but you’re still dealing with a jerk.

    It’s as if it’s an excuse for a certain group of stupid people: “Poor uneducated person can’t help being a bigot with all the racism in this country”. Now if you just call it what it is, throwing trash at someone and calling them names is unwanted behavior that needs to stop, then you don’t address people that have nothing to do with this (and don’t have enough experience with racism to understand it actually still happens).

    And you know what? The history of slavery in the US is very unique; many rich “Western” countries practiced slavery, but most of them kept it outside their homeland. Take The Netherlands; a small group of business minded people (I say this with the uttermost disgust that I can find in my mind) felt it was OK to “buy” and abduct large groups of people, with every disregard to their health and safety to a place on the other side of the world and turn them into slaves, because the indigenous people were not up to. Right. Mind boggling. But, the only thing that actually physically return to the Netherlands was money and spices and other supplies.

    There was no daily twitter feed with witty comments about what was happening, most people were not aware in detail what horrifying facts were taking place to make this country grow. Even the rich people, who might even know a lot of details were not confronted with the daily lives of these mistreated people.

    And just like many of us today look the other way when it comes to child labor in third world countries and animal abuse on large farms; in those days that’s exactly what people did, even if they knew about the practices. They might rejected the idea and not stand behind it themselves, but, since it’s so far away, you might as well enjoy the riches that come from it.
    - Great sale at H&M, right? –

    Does that justify slavery? Hell no. Did it ingrain that PoC are lesser people. Also not. Luckily. So no racists in The Netherlands then? Of course there are. Small minded people are everywhere. But these bigots aim their arrows mostly at other groups at this point.

    Now the US was a different story; people were used as slaves in “plain sight”. It was part of daily live. This normalized the idea of dehumanizing a person and this is ingrained so deeply in culture, that some people actually still think skin color is still an important factor to judge people by (in stead of, say, tossing trash at people or displaying small minded behavior like judging someone on a random characteristic).

    Now even in the US this mindset is starting to change, but awareness that racism still exists in is crucial. That still doesn’t mean you can call out every white person for feeling superior. This is as racist as it can be. It’s even counter-effective, because you are judging people who might not be aware, but also have no racist ideas, for something they are not guilty of. Not helping. Uninformed does not equal bad intent.

    And don’t get me started on, well whites imported and held slaves and slaves were all PoC. Then I have a favorite fact to share; a wonderful opera singer here in Amsterdam found out that she was descending on one side of the family from Africans that sold slaves and on the other side of the family from people who were mostly sold as slaves. F*ck that. How does she feel about it? Should she have an internal struggle about this, or embrace the fact the awful behavior of one side of the family has been eliminated?

    We today can be descendants of anyone. We can’t use our heritage to be treated better and we sure as hell cannot use our heritage to treat others worse. We need to grow up and take actions for what we are now and what we raise our kids to be.

    Don’t give bigots the light of day; don’t elevate their stupid behavior to more than what it is. You _are_ still going to board that 1st class flight and _they_ are not. And tossing a half-eaten fruit at someone. Yeah. Now that sure does show how much better a person is, right?

    It’s hard, but you guys’s FLOTUS is right; when they go low, we go high.

    On a side note; now that Barack and Michelle are almost done. Can’t they just become the mom and dad of the whole world? Please.