If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw the amazing pictures and videos I caught of the 2015 Black Girls Pole show held at Body & Pole in New York. Most all of my Facebook posts are public for anybody to read but I wanted to capture and remember this epic status I wrote about my experience. It was well received. I hesitated to post it though because as a white male what do I know about the African American Female's struggle in this country? I have no idea, but the women I love, who are my friends, I support and thought I understood the purpose. At lot of back talk has happened with the growing popularity of Black Girls Pole such as... "Why do Black Girls need to have their own Pole group?" Why do they want to separate themselves... Isn't that segregating? The straight up answer is no. So after I share with you my post I will also share the dialog that happened between me and another pole woman who wanted to attack the meaning and purpose behind BGP.
"Black Girls Pole... Yes they do. And now I want to break it down to you. What had happen last night... What I received from the experience. What I saw. I saw a celebration of African American Women who express their talent and their femininity through Pole Dance. The grace, the poise, the sensuality, the technique was off the chain. I saw bold, empowered women, making a very important political statement while finding each other and strengthening their tribe.
Why is Black Girls Pole important? Why is PFLAG important? Because human beings are stronger in numbers when holding hands and standing beside one another to keep each other sane in a world that is unhinged. Racism is real. And this past two years have drawn out the toxic attitudes about race relations in our country. Black lives matter. Now is the time in human history to start fixing and repairing this broken system, or we ain't going to make it. We saw it Friday. Gays won a momentous victory over the system. We are equal and validated. The only other group of people who can relate to what gays have gone through with marriage, is African American men and women who were here to face that war first. I'm trying to write this while I have tears in my eyes. We have to be strong. And Black Girls Pole is the beacon of light and hope shining through the pole fitness industry saying "come all you who are broken down and hungry". The broken hearted who are at the center of this racial war. Dalijah Franklin did what so many couldn't do, or unwilling, or afraid. She created the emotional, mental, artistic, and spiritual place for black women to come to get refreshed. From putting up with the bull shit. Women who work, have children, have relationships, responsibility, and just want to pole dance to forget daily life. Even just for a minute. That's feminism.
I love you Dalijah. Who you are as a person. What you represent. Girl I dont even think you realize the gravity of what you have done. Black Girls Pole is not just a small group of polers that get the cool shirts and use the hashtags. It is a movement within pole, to connect black women to one another to support each other in a sisterhood. And for that I'm humbled to my knees. And so grateful that I was included to clean those poles. To be able to serve and sit and breath in all the love that was shared last night. It was everything to me. And to all the women who performed I love you too."
Comment From Pole Person: Thank you for always expressing your clear point of view! I agree with inequality at all levels. What it is missing from your post is that all other minorities and immigrant population are facing the same struggles. It is not just about gay or black, it is about all of us sharing this beautiful country and seeking for equality.. Glad to see Nadia being part of this celebration.. And maybe others that are not identifying to a certain race. We can make it or break it! Building the wall of race will simply separate us more.. As an immigrant here I feel more discriminated by born American citizens (all races) than by any other population .. The day we open up to all just like we did for the equality in marriage will be a true victory for all citizens despite of race (white, black, pink , yellow, green) culture or upbringing. I appreciate all that it is done and wish for it to be elevated to an equal race to all, with the final goal to eliminate the race word from our vocabulary.
Me: I recommend starting your troupe then. Do what makes you feel passionate about. Find your voice and make it happen.
Person: My point was to unite rather than create separate race/ethnicity groups.. But I get your advice
Me: I don't think you grasp the full concept of my post. You should read it again. People who are black, gay, latin, transgender, need their groups to have support. What you lack to realize is that this is not dividing people. Its creating harmony inside of a group of people working towards your ultimate goal. Go organize your people too. Then we can all hold hands and demand change as a united group of polers.
Person: Thank you for your advise. I don't believe in segregated groups. So I will just mind my own business and survive the way I have been for the past 20 years in this country that I love. Following your recommendation I should create a segregation of my nationality/ community .. Not interested .. I am a naturalized U.S. citizen therefore I don't c colors .. Just a united front of powerful women .. Thank you for your advise. I appreciate your opinion.
Again coming back to attack about a half hour later Pole Person comments again: Sorry for trying to be a visionary and a hopeless believer of a future nation of no color or ethnicity .. I guess that we are not ready just yet.. Hopefully we can embrace the concept sometime soon smile emoticon we shall talk soon
Me: Ok I'm going to have to break it down to you. There is color. White, black, brown, yellow, red, purple, and green if you want. Black Girls Pole is not about being in an exclusive club. It's not about creating racial lines or exclusivity to a race. It's about celebrating diversity by bringing together minorities that have been over looked or have no outlet to commune. You keep on going with you line of thought on this post. Why cant you as a woman. A woman with a heritage. Just be happy for these women and what they did and let go of the racism in your own heart. You are just proving the point of why BGP is important. Because people like you... Especially white morons... Dont see what its about. It's a celebration of African American Women. Can't we all just stand up and applaud them for doing this? Without criticism? One time? I know that if somebody invited you to dance as part of a troupe for your race and gender you would. So why are you laying into my girls? You are creating the problem. You are not being part of the solution. I'm just a white guy with an opinion.
OK how do you feel? Do you think Black Girls Pole is offensive? The idea that a minority created a pole troupe to perform together? What about Gay Boys Pole? Or Old White Broke Down Men Pole? Or Jewish Girls Pole? What I have found is that nothing incites emotional rage faster then bringing up the race card. I guess I am on a roll and I have a few more things I want to say. For those of you who do not know my history. I was raised a Jehovah's Witness in Southern Virginia. My family was the only white family in an all black church... for most of my childhood and pre teen years. All my spiritual mentors were rock solid Christian African American men. I love those men, even if I no longer believe in that religion. The "mothers" I had around me, helping to raise me, were black. And my friends were black. I first encountered racism in High School and when I did it horrified me as it still does... so does homophobia... so does rape culture... so does misogyny. Since Obama came into power we have seen blatant disrespect for this president. And the white supremacist over the last 8 years have been recruiting. We see this now as race relations are escalating in our country. Then came the troubling and disturbing cases of police brutality in the hundreds. Then came the shooting this past month by that evil violent filled white teen. I can't anymore. And I don't have a solution other to open dialog like this. I know it's just a pole... but it's not.
I am not black and have not lived the black experience. I have absolutely no idea what that feels like. To walk into a room and be the only black person. I do know what it feels like to be the only gay person, and that is my only point of reference for this whole post. But living so close to and being a part of black culture is why I feel so fervent about this status and this post. I hope I made my point. I got to be a pole cleaner and get a front row seat to this event and let me tell you... My heart almost burst with love from seeing my strong, proud, bold, sexy African American women pole the shit out of it.