‘A flu-like bug started spreading. ‘You’re black and strong, nothing will happen to you.’ The healthy white girl got her own room instead.’: Dancer powerfully explains ‘I will never color my shoes’

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“I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I often hear after an audition, ‘Wow I didn’t know you could dance like that.’ Because it’s a surprise when black girls have ‘technique.’

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I am stressed because my living situation on tour isn’t the cleanest, and when I confront the issue with my white roommate, she cries. So, now it turns into, ‘Why did you make her cry?’ instead of helping me live comfortably. The living situation is now overlooked.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I have to do the extra job of code-switching so I don’t contribute to white fragility in artistic capacities as well as in the world.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

When a flu-like bug started going around on tour, they gave the healthy white girl her own room so her sick roommate wouldn’t pass the bug to her. When my roommate got sick and I asked for the same, I was told I was black so I was strong, and nothing would happen to me. I never got my own room.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I never want to get anything wrong in any rehearsal as the token so I don’t draw attention to myself and prove myself worthy of being there. Thus, I never call out or miss a show, even with a severely sprained hamstring.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

My wig prep is cornrows. The white woman/hair intern who is putting on my wig tells me my dread is hanging out. I tell her ‘Oh, no that’s a braid.’ She says, ‘Same difference.’

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I book 2 completely different commercials and have to do my own hair because the hair ladies don’t know what to do with my curls.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I’m on the set of a well-known television show and the makeup artist takes 30 minutes trying to figure out my color foundation. I tell her I have mine in my bag and she won’t let me get it. I was the first and last in the makeup chair.

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

I have to do research and give the theaters a website to find my flesh tone color tights and undies because ‘they don’t know where to get my color.’

I NEVER COLORED MY SHOES.

Because I’m doing all this EXTRA WORK my white counterparts don’t have to, and I still have TO DO MORE WORK for my shoes, I will NEVER COLOR my shoes. Make them in my color, too.”

Courtesy of NaTonia Monét Harrison
Courtesy of NaTonia Monét Harrison

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by NaTonia Monét Harrison. You can follow her journey on her website, Instagram, and Twitter. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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