On Friday nights when the weather is right, my partner and his friends will set up a portable floor and speakers in Uptown Waterloo and break dance. It’s a fun time.
Passersby will often stop to watch, with some admiring curiously from afar while others express their appreciation more directly. These are usually cheerful interactions.
However, there is another category of people who occasionally approach uninvited—White folks who actively believe that my partner and his friends (all racialized men) were there for the sole purpose of entertaining them. They will literally bark orders, “YOU! You’re up next!” “Do a head spin!” “AGAIN!” “Okay, now you go!” “Don’t stop, keep going!!!” basically as they would to circus animals.
It is truly a buzzkill. Thankfully, the crew has an unspoken protocol whenever this happens, which essentially involves sitting down and doing nothing. The entitled asshole soon gets bored and moves on. It works pretty well.
Though, I sometimes wonder if these people ever reflect on the situation. Do they ever consider the possibility that maybe my partner and his friends were out here to enjoy their art and culture—which is a street dance… on the streets? Or, that they were supporting each other’s creativity, training, and development?
Who knows… White supremacy conditioning can run deep. But, at least in these cases, the monster’s not being fed.