Solange Knowles is an internationally renowned artist, musician, designer and fashion icon. But sometimes no amount of success will change the harsh realities of being black in predominantly white spaces, a subject Knowles experienced firsthand recently and decided to write a powerful essay about it.
In “And Do You Belong? I Do,” which was posted Monday on her Saint Heron website, she shared a terrible experience she had at a concert in New Orleans.
In the piece, the 30-year-old singer explained she was dancing at a Kraftwerk show on Friday with her husband, her son and his friend when a group of white woman repeatedly told her to sit down. In a series of tweets about the incident (which have been deleted), Knowles explained that one of the women threw a half-eaten piece of lime at her. She added that she and her family were about four of out of 20 black people at the concert venue, which had about 1,500 people in attendance.
She, then, expanded on the precarious position black people in white spaces are often times put in, and the fear that many black people might feel challenging racist microaggressions lest they become labeled as angry or disruptive.
“You know when you share this that a part of the population is going to side with the women who threw trash at you,” Knowles wrote.
“You know that they will come up with every excuse to remove that huge part of the incident and make this about you standing up at a concert ‘blocking someone’s view.’”
Knowles went on to emphasize the fact that by sharing her story, she wasn’t trying to call the women racists, but simply explain that “this is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominately white spaces.”
The singer’s essay is an important reminder that racism towards black people manifests itself in many ways, from police violence to people simply policing our right to dance, laugh, or simply have fun in public spaces. And equally important, it’s a powerful reminder that fame, money and “respectability” don’t shield black people from racist behavior.
Read the entire essay at the Saint Heron website here.