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Solange Knowles pens thoughtful essay on the ‘tone’ of white people

Being black in white spaces means dealing with the assumption that you don't belong.


Jaya Saxena


Posted on Sep 12, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 1:11 am CDT

In the aftermath of the great Lime-Throwing Incident of 2016 (who throws a lime?), Solange Knowles is speaking out about the tone white people often use when addressing black people, something she says implies “I do not feel you belong here.”

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Over the weekend, Knowles, her husband, and her 11-year-old son attended a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans, where she says they were just three in a small handful of black people in the crowd. While dancing to one of the songs, a group of white women behind her told her to sit down—and when Knowles didn’t, the woman threw a lime at her back.

In a new essay on Saint Heron’s website, she elaborates on the experience. “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 [sic] 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,” she writes.

She points out how she never called these women racist—she speaks instead of this experience being emblematic of how many black people and non-black people of color feel in predominantly white spaces. That they can’t enjoy themselves without facing scrutiny in the form of exoticizing or outright judgment that they should simply be somewhere else.

“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 [sic], 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 do to protect their sacred land from an oil pipeline being built on graves of their descendants,” she writes. “You know that people of colors’ ‘spaces’ are attacked every single day, but many will not be able to see it that way.”

Knowles’s experience is proof that no amount of fame or money erases racism, and many people online are reacting with sympathy and similar stories.

However, as Knowles predicted, some refuse to see this as an issue of the ways white supremacy infiltrates everything.

Some people will just never get it.

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2016, 11:01 am CDT