What It’s Like to Live In a Racist World, by Solange Knowles

Solange image by Greg Chow, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)
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Solange image by Greg Chow, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)
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Solange image by Greg Chow, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0)

Do You Belong? Yes, Solange Says You Do.

Over the weekend, Solange Knowles, better known by her stage name, Solange, attended a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans. She was accompanied by her 11 year old son, his friend, and her husband. During the event, she decided to get up and just start dancing to one of favorite Kraftwerk concerts.

Suddenly, four older, white women began to yell at the R&B singer. “Sit down now!”

Solange responded to the hostile women that she was simply dancing at a concert.

This wasn’t enough, as they yelled back, “You need to sit down now.” As she gave them her back, she found herself pelted with a half-eaten lime.  She then proceeded to narrate the entire story through a series of now-deleted Tweets. You can find the series of deleted tweets here.

A tweet storm wasn’t enough for the singer to express her outrage. She took to the internet to post a lengthy thought piece on Saint Heron’s website.


“The tone.

It’s the same one that says to your friend, “BOY…. go on over there and hand me my bag” at the airport, assuming he’s a porter.

It’s the same one that tells you, “m’am, go into that other line over there” when you are checking in at the airport at the first class counter before you even open up your mouth.

It’s the same one that yells and screams at you and your mother in your sleep when you’re on the train from Milan to Basel “give me your passport NOW.” You look around to see if anyone else is being requested this same thing only to see a kind Italian woman actually confront the agents on your behalf and ask why you are being treated this way.”

It’s the same tone that the officer has when she tells you your neighborhood is blocked for residents only as you and your friends drive home from a Mardi Gras parade, when you have a residents tag on your car. You’ve been in the car line for 10 minutes and watched them let every one else pass without stopping them at all.

It usually does not include “please.” It does not include “will you.” It does not include “would you mind,” for you must not even be worth wasting their mouths forming these respectable words. Although, you usually see them used seconds before or after you.

You don’t feel that most of the people in these incidents do not like black people, but simply are a product of their white supremacy and are exercising it on you without caution, care, or thought.

Many times the tone just simply says, “I do not feel you belong here.

She stops for an instant, and asks the reader to…


She relates her experience at the Kraftwerk concert Friday night.

“Telling your son and his friend Rasheed about a band you love and one that played a pivotal role in the history of hip-hop. Something that as a family you all feel very connected to.

Imagine, although the kids are interested, they are still 11, unfamiliar, and would rather be spending their Friday night differently. You and your husband are always talking to your son about expansion and being open to other things and experiences, so you guys make the Kraftwerk concert a family Friday night.

You get there about 10 minutes late, but lucky for you, as soon as you walk to your box seats, the song that you just played for your son in the car is on! It’s a song his uncle sampled, ” The Hall of Mirrors.” You haven’t even sat down yet because you just walked to your seat and you’re so excited to dance to this DANCE MUSIC SONG.

Simultaneously, a much older black venue attendant comes over to your son and his friend and yells “No electronic cigarettes allowed, you need to stop doing that now!”

You are too into the groove and let your husband handle it and tell the attendant that the children are 11 years old, and it’s actually the two grown white men in front of you guys who were smoking them.

You are annoyed and feel it’s extremely problematic that someone would challenge their innocence, but determined to stay positive and your husband has handled this accordingly.

About 20 seconds later, you hear women yell aggressively, “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now” from the box behind you. You want to be considerate, however, they were not at all considerate with their tone, their choice of words, or the fact that you just walked in and seem to be enjoying yourself.”

She relates the point of racism that got to her.

You feel something heavy hit you on the back of your shoulder, but consider that you are imagining things because well… certainly a stranger would not have the audacity.

Moments later, you feel something again, this time smaller, less heavy, and your son and his friend tell you those ladies just hit you with a lime.

You look down only to see the half eaten lime on the ground below you.

You inhale deeply. Your husband calmly asks the group of women did they just throw trash at you. One woman says, “I just want to make it clear, I was not the one who yelled those horrible, nasty, things at you.”

Loud enough for you to hear.

This leads you to believe they were saying things way worse than what you heard, but you are not surprised at that part one bit.

She then goes on to relate the feelings that led her to the now-deleted tweet storm.

You’re full of passion and shock, so you share this story on Twitter, hands shaking, because you actually want these women to face accountability in some kind of way. You know that you cannot speak to them with out it escalating because they have no respect for you or your son, and this will only end badly for you and feel it’s not worth getting the police involved. So, you are hoping they will hear you this way.

You know when you share this that a part of the population is going to side with the women who threw trash at you. You know that they will come up with every excuse to remove that huge part of the incident and make this about you standing up at a concert “blocking someone’s view.”

“You know that a lot of the media will not even mention the trash being thrown at you with your 11 year old son being present.

You feel that the headline would be “XYZ Goes To A Concert And Gets Trash Thrown At Them,” if it were some of your other non-black peers in the industry.

You constantly see the media having a hard time contextualizing black women and men as victims every day, even when it means losing their own lives.

Yet, in her narrative, there’s also a realization for her…

You do not care in that moment because you understand that many of your followers will understand and have been through this same type of thing many a times, and if it means them hearing you say it’s ok, you will rise again through out these moments, then it means something bigger to you.

You realize that you never called these women racists, but people will continuously put those words in your mouth.

Here’s where Solange goes on to defend the statement that was indeed posted on several news sites.

What you did indeed say is, “This is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominately white spaces,” and you still stand true to that.

You and your friends have been called the N word, been approached as prostitutes, and have had your hair touched in a predominately white bar just around the corner from the same venue.

Solange notes that this isn’t limited only to black people in America, but for people of all color.

The statement you made makes headlines funny enough just days after it comes to light that Air China warns their flyers not to go into Indian, Pakastani, or Black neighborhoods in order to stay safe, while Texas schools are fighting to have textbooks calling Mexicans “lazy” removed from classrooms, and while Native Americans are doing everything they can possibly to to protect their sacred land from an oil pipeline being built on graves of their descendants. You know that people of colors’ “spaces” are attacked every single day, but many will not be able to see it that way.

This also comes during a time when the Housing Authority of New Orleans has declared a federal mandate plan to assist with helping to protect black neighborhoods, stating that “previously black neighborhoods on higher ground are now majority white or moving in that direction.” And not too long after an announcement is made that a former Klu Klux Klan leader is running for Louisiana senator. You also know where you live.

You are also fully aware, now that you use your platform consistently to speak out on social, racial, and feminist issues, that people who have no awareness of your work outside of gossip sites and magazines, some of which who are most likely voting for Donald Trump, have been starting to engage and/or target you in public and social media in regards to race.

Here’s the realization that she asks you, dear reader, to understand and attempt to relate to.

(And yes, having white people constantly call you the n word, or say you and your people are degenerates that need to leave America, or zoo like animals, surely does not help you feel more comfortable in predominately white spaces).

You read headlines that say, “Solange feels uncomfortable with white people,” and want to use the classic “I have many white friends” or “Half of my wedding guests were white” line to prove that you do not dislike white people but dislike the way that many white people are constantly making you feel. Yet you know no amount of explaining will get you through to this type of person in the first place.

How can you finally get the payback then?

Yet, none of this matters now for her. All she hear is her son and his friend jamming to the rhythm that your ancestors once sung.

After you think it all over, you know that the biggest payback you could have ever had (after, go figure, they then decided they wanted to stand up and dance to songs they liked) was dancing right in front of them with my hair swinging from left to right, my beautiful black son and husband, and our dear friend Rasheed jamming the hell out with the rhythm our ancestors blessed upon us saying…

We belong. We belong. We belong. 

We built this.


11 Responses

  1. ©

    This is dumb. First, is Solange just that desperate for press? I guess it’s been a while since she attacked Jay Z in that elevator so people have forgotten about her…
    But for her to complain about people yelling at her to sit down at a concert (aka, a place that is loud and a normal speaking voice may be inaudible) and for her to be so rude as to as sue she can block other people’s views simply because they asked her in a way she didn’t like and have zero repercussions is just dumb.
    Other people have a right to react just like you do.

    And if you’re uncomfortable in ‘predominantly white places’, you are promoting segregation. MLK would be rolling in his grave over this special snowflake who apparently wants segregation? Or is she saying she wants to not live in a country where black people make up only 13% of the population?
    What is the point of this?

    One other thing, Kraftwerk is a group with an older fan base. If you’ve ever been to a show like that, you’ll probably be aware that most fans stay seated at shows with older demographics as fans until the encore. Not that they should, but they usually do.

    • Rico

      You must be of Caucasian dissent because you missed her point, not to say you didn’t mention one thing about them throwing things at them.

      It comes down to most whites only dealing with blacks and other people of color through media images and unfortunately when they do encounter these people in a social setting, it’s hard to get past their color.

      I’ve worked for a record label for many years and you would assume it’s a liberal business, but it’s far from it and this type of behavior happens often.

      I feel pity for these people because they are usually unhappy in their personal lives and they have to feel like ” well, I’m glad I’m not one of them”

      Let’s not even start about if you happen to be in-shape or an attractive black man or woman, not all, but some will do everything in their power to act like you don’t exist, which is fine except I have to work with you.

    • Kevin

      I was at this concert and purchased a ticket for the floor where I could dance. Solange chosen ticket was in the balcony seating area where people sit. If she really wanted to “dance” to Kraftwerk she should have join me on the floor. All she wants is attention and to call her writing a essay is a joke!

  2. Dry Roasted

    Does this mean that Solange isn’t going to stand for the Star Spangled Banner?

  3. Bobby D

    I was there at the show with my wife (who is of color) who pointed out a tall woman of color dancing up in the balcony seating saying “I don’t know who she is but the people behind her are sure gonna be pissed off if she continues to block their view of the stage”. That’s all it was about. Someone dancing and disrupting the view of those behind her. It had nothing to do with race. If she wanted to dance she should have come on down to the general admission/floor area where we were all dancing. She would have been more than welcomed.

  4. Ned T.

    No mention that she was obnoxiously blocking the view of other patrons. Of course–doesn’t fit in with the PC brainwashing that engulfs America.


  5. Arlin Godwin

    This article was especially dumb. This all about an arrogant, selfish woman—labeling anyone who dares to ask her to sit down and get out of the way as “racist”. This has nothing to do with racism. This about a person just acting bad. Plain and simple. Behaving like a child. Don’t people ever just do bad stuff? She chose to block the view of other folks who had paid for tickets—not to see Solange but to see Kraftwerk. Somebody should have dumped a whole truck load of garbage on her.

  6. Kevin

    I was at this concert and purchased a ticket for the floor where I could dance. Solange chosen ticket was in the balcony seating area where people sit. If she really wanted to “dance” to Kraftwerk she should have join me on the floor. All she wants is attention and to call her writing a essay is a joke!

  7. Rico

    It’s interesting that not one of the comments made a mention of the women throwing lemons at her back…. Any individual would be irritated at someone blocking their view of a concert but to hear people making comments about the star spangled banner, being PC.

    its interesting how racism exists, but no one ever admits to being one.

    At least with the KKK, people of color know exactly where they stand in their dealings with these people.

    • Dindunuffin

      As do white people traveling through Baltimore, Chicago, Ferguson, etc.

      • Rico

        Are you real or a bot? Get serious,

        How about living with instead of traveling through.

        We are in sad state of affairs.