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Solange Knowles pens powerful essay on racial discrimination experience 

‘Many times the tone just simply says, I do not feel you belong here’

Racial discrimination. It’s happened to many people of color in predominantly white environments. It’s reared its ugly head lately with comedian Leslie Jones on social media and at times, it can get physical. Some have been stared at, picked on and even harassed.

This past weekend singer and actress Solange Knowles attended a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans, where she experienced racial discrimination. She reported that she and her family were checking out the popular German electronic dance music group’s show when a group of women threw half-eaten food at them.

She took to Twitter and posted her displeasure and received even more hate from Internet trolls.

https://twitter.com/solangeknowles/status/774433289201446912

https://twitter.com/solangeknowles/status/774433573558444032

https://twitter.com/solangeknowles/status/774433738109362178

https://twitter.com/solangeknowles/status/774481372991877120

She later wrote this personal essay titled And Do You Belong? I do that was posted on Saint Heron, where she describes her experience and touches on her feelings surrounding the issue.

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.”

Imagine.

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.

You are also confused as to what show you went to. This is a band that were pioneers of electronic and dance music. Surely the audience is going to expect you to dance at some point.

Read more at SaintHeron.com.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.