Saw a real jaw-dropper this morning from Randa Jarrar at Salon:
Google the term “belly dance” and the first images the search engine offers are of white women in flowing, diaphanous skirts, playing at brownness. How did this become acceptable?
I guess she means images like this:
This, according to Jarrar, is unforgiveable:
One of the most awkward occurrences for me when I go out to an Arabic restaurant is the portion of the evening when the white belly dancer comes out. This usually happens on weekends, and I’ve learned to avoid those spaces then, but sometimes I forget. The last time I forgot, a white woman came out in Arab drag — because that’s what that is, when a person who’s not Arab wears genie pants and a bra and heavy eye makeup and Arabic jewelry, or jewelry that is meant to read as “Arabic” because it’s metallic and shiny and has squiggles of some kind —
“It’s Arab face,” my friend Nadine once said, pointing at an invitation from a white acquaintance of hers. The invitation was printed on card stock and featured the woman and a dozen of her white friends dressed in Orientalist garb with eye makeup caked on for full kohl effect and glittery accessories. We wanted to call these women up and say, “How is this OK? Would you wear a dashiki and rock waspafarian dreads and take up African dance publicly? Wait,” we’d probably say, “don’t answer that.”
Well, if a white woman wearing a dashiki and dreads is not ok, than neither is this, I guess:
That is Misty Copeland, the first African-American soloist with American Ballet theatre.
Given classical ballet's European roots, is Ms. Copeland doing "white face"? Is she dancing "in drag"?
Maybe she shouldn't be allowed to perform with one of America's top ballet companies. Maybe she should be publicly shamed.
Of course, if you're going to do that, you had better start with original, evil "white face" promoter-
Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem.
OMG- the horror!
After all, authentic ballet should always look like this:
And never this:
That's the Tokyo Ballet shamelessly "appropriating" that icon of White European Culture: Swan Lake.
Or as Jarrar puts it in her essay:
These women are more interested in their investment in belly dancing [or ballet] than in questioning and examining how their appropriation of the art causes others harm. To them, I can only say, I’m sure there are people who have been unwittingly racist for 15 years. It’s not too late. Find another form of self-expression. Make sure you’re not appropriating someone else’s.
As a white woman who studied classic dance for over 20 years, I feel so, so- HARMED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!