Solange’s powerful essay about being Black: ‘We belong. We built this.’
On Friday night, Solange and her husband took her son and his friend to see Kraftwerk, a German electronic and pop band in New Orleans. After talking up the musicians to her 11-year-old son, the group got to the show a few minutes after Kraftwerk hit the stage. While the German band makes dance music, apparently fans didn’t appreciate Solange and her group grooving to the beat. As she danced, one fan yelled for her to sit down, and when that didn’t happen, someone threw limes and trash at the singer.
Solange initially took to Twitter to explain why so many Black folks “don’t feel safe in many white spaces.” After imploring White people to “fix yourself,” she was inundated with hateful responses.
In true Solange style, she didn’t apologize for speaking her truth, instead she penned an essay about the ways in which White folks have tried to make her feel like she didn’t belong.
It’s the same one that says to your friend, “BOY…. go on over there and hand me my bag” at the airport, assuming he’s a porter.
It’s the same one that tells you, “m’am, go into that other line over there” when you are checking in at the airport at the first class counter before you even open up your mouth.
It’s the same one that yells and screams at you and your mother in your sleep when you’re on the train from Milan to Basel “give me your passport NOW.” You look around to see if anyone else is being requested this same thing only to see a kind Italian woman actually confront the agents on your behalf and ask why you are being treated this way.
It’s the same tone that the officer has when she tells you your neighborhood is blocked for residents only as you and your friends drive home from a Mardi Gras parade, when you have a residents tag on your car. You’ve been in the car line for 10 minutes and watched them let every one else pass without stopping them at all.
It usually does not include “please.” It does not include “will you.” It does not include “would you mind,” for you must not even be worth wasting their mouths forming these respectable words. Although, you usually see them used seconds before or after you.
You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought.
Many times the tone just simply says, “I do not feel you belong here.”
After detailing the racially offensive slights she’s experienced, Solange explained her plan to deal with the hate: continue to be her outspoken, unapologetically Black self.
You have lived a part of your life in predominately white spaces since you were a kid and even had your 3rd grade teacher tell you “what a nigger is” in front of your entire white class. You watched your parents trying to explain why this was wrong to her and learned then it can be virtuously impossible to get your point across.
After you think it all over, you know that the biggest payback you could have ever had (after, go figure, they then decided they wanted to stand up and dance to songs they liked) was dancing right in front of them with my hair swinging from left to right, my beautiful black son and husband, and our dear friend Rasheed jamming the hell out with the rhythm our ancestors blessed upon us saying….
We belong. We belong. We belong.
We built this.
Yes, we did.