A video from a recent dance competition came up for discussion that brought to mind one of Daniel Tosh's bits on his Tosh.0 show, "Is It Racist?" He takes an otherwise innocent situation and pokes fun at the potentially racist connotations that could be applied. A quick example is when a little white kid gets a word closely resembling the "N" word during a spelling bee. Ever stop to think that the nature and history of the dance we do puts us on a fine line between respect and insult?
The video being discussed had me wondering if the people who put together and performed the routine "get it." I'm actually going to assume best intentions, and in turn assume they don't. It's also why I'm not going to bother directly linking the specific performance, because it really doesn't help anything if they were simply clueless about how their routine could easily be viewed as downright racist. Instead, I'm just going to label it an "unintentionally insensitive" routine. I've seen them before, usually from Europeans (and yes, I've heard all the arguments about why they are less "sensitive" about this sort of thing, but if you look at their history they should be just as concerned about it as us Americans) but this one struck a particular nerve.
Of course bring this up means walking another line, the line between being respectful of history and being the pretentious white hipster type who goes around calling other white folk on their perceived insensitivities to other races and cultures. So I'll keep my point to this: you should probably stop and think a little more about what you choose to do as a performance piece, know your history, and think about how others (especially someone who lived the history) may view it. You only get the “unintentionally insensitive” pass so many times.