We dance. We dance around freedom; we dance around rights and justice - one step forward, one step back - and it is not a merry jaunt. We smile, but we are not joyful.
We dance with justice, with freedom because it is more respectable than fighting, and now we are a respectable people.
We have become a community.
We raise children and pets and picket fences; we wear suits and ties and hold positions of power - we are just like anyone. Those of us who live in prostration do it with Pride, because we are a respectable people.
So we do not fight anymore. We do not fight.
Why? Will we waltz into a new era? Piouette into equality; two-step for a brave new world? Does taking the hand of an oppressor, twirling around the issues get us closer to where we want to be? To where we need to be?
It does not.
Dance is style and flair; it requires retreat, someone to relinquish ground and yet, we dance. We start on the back foot and ruffle our skirts around issues because now we are a respectable people. Our dance card is always full.
We do not riot anymore.
We are a respectable people, a community, and we do not riot anymore. We are quietly angry. We are restrained.
When we speak, it is with manners: Please sir, thank you sir. We bow and we curtsey and we hold the hands of people who would call us unequal and unworthy and wrong, and we lift our skirts and tails and when it is over and we are breathless and clapping, we are no further from where we began; no closer to where we need to be.
We have circled freedom and become distracted by pomp and finery.
In our past, we were not a respectable people.
In our past, we rose up and screamed, and tore at our clothes and our suits and our ties and we incited riots. In our past we did not dance.
In our past we batted hands and beat our way through circles and we marched in lines and crowds through the streets; we waved signs and banners and held candles and we grieved loudly and with anger; past businesses and unions and corporations until we reached city hall, until we reached parliament and congress and the halls of power, and there we stood without ruffles or gloves and with bare fists we beat on the doors of politicians and churches; we hammered out our discontent because we fought for freedom and justice and the inalienable rights that were ours simply because we were human and we deserved them.
We deserve those rights. They belong to us. They are ours.
We should be a respectable people - we should be. But we should be a respectable people when we are respected. We should be a respectable people when we no longer have a battleground to march on, or issues to march for, or inequality and injustice and discrimination to march against.
We should be a respectable people when the riots are over - and they are not over. The riots are not over. There is no time to dance when the smiles are not true and the partners are not equal and the floor is not even and the issues are still there.
This is no time for dancing.
Our shoes were not made to shuffle; our skirts were not made to be lifted for respectable things, so stop taking that hand, stop circling that floor. Stop ignoring the riots of our past and rise up! March in the footsteps of the people who came before you. March because this beat was not made for waltzing.
While we are treated unfairly; while we are segregated for who we love; while we fear walking the streets of our small towns and hide away in our big cities - there is reason to fight. There is a responsibility, a need, an obligation to rise up and say "Enough!" "No more!"
We will not accept anything less than equal. We will not dance around the issues. Now is not the time for dancing.We will fight because the battle is not over. We will fight because it is what we have to do.
We will win.
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