Friday Memory:

Am I Going to be the Only One?

Friday's Memory, December 7, 2018

By Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills

 

This past weekend Ginia Bellafante, a writer for the Metropolitan Section of the New York Times, wrote an article entitled, “Where All your Christmases Are White.” The article recounted Ginia’s trip to the see the Radio City Rockettes, a dance company that has been one of New York’s most popular shows since 1932. This show, which is the hallmark of the holiday season at Radio City Music Hall, hosts a viewing audience of nearly a million people; primarily all White as the Rockettes.

 

On Tuesday of this week our friend, Pat Coleman-Boatwrwight, posted on her Facebook page her appreciation of the article and stated, “At last someone (Ginia Bellafante) is saying what every person of color in the USA has been thinking for the last 90 years.” Pat went on to acknowledge that every Thanksgiving, as she watches them on television doing their thing in front of Macy’s, she searches for where the one or Black dancers are placed in the line-up.

 

The first Black Rockette, Jennifer Jones, joined the troupe in 1987 after reading an ad encouraging minorities to audition. Now, thirty-one years later, out of 80 dancers, only 10 percent are women of color. Also mentioned in the article is that a spokesperson has responded to questions regarding the lack of diversity and that the organization was “taking a number of steps to showcase greater diversity.”

 

So, readers, you may be wondering if this Friday Memory is solely about the Rockettes. No, it’s not. For those of you who have been following us (even for a short time) you may suspect this story is serving as the door opener to discuss what hopefully you will contemplate this week.
There have been countless times in our lives (speaking for ourselves Bev & Elaine) when a White person has asked, “Will I be the only one?” Usually the question comes when we have invited a White person to attend an event that may consist primarily of African Americans. “Will I be the only one” poses an interesting question that we would like our readers to ponder this week which is… why should it matter? Because if it didn’t matter why does the question come up?

 

Remember we’ve said that discussing topics in African American history, or the experience of being Black in America, can be difficult? Well, the only way to cut through the awkward stuff is to talk about it. So now this is what we want you to consider—is the question asked in anticipation of feeling uncomfortable because in your world you are always the majority? Do you feel being in the minority would cause you to have too much anxiety seeing yourself as “conspicuous” in a sea of Black?

 

As we close we simply want to say, “Welcome to our world.” Growing up in a predominately White region we have never had the luxury of wondering if we were going to be the only one. It’s what we’ve lived every day as we went to school, grocery stores, restaurants, social events or just going through our daily lives. So, dear readers, if there are any of you out there who have ever wondered, “Am I Going to be the Only One” we ask that you look within and ask yourself where this question is coming from and, more importantly, why it matters. Just think about it.

Stoutsburg Sourland

African American Museum

189 Hollow Rd.

Skillman, NJ 08558

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