Misty Copeland: ‘I Encourage Young Black Girls to Be Open, and Be Vulnerable’

by Yah Yah

Misty Copeland made history as the first African American female Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre.

Copeland has also penned a slew of highly successful books throughout the course of her career. She recently stopped by “The Karen Hunter Show” to speak more about Black ballerinas in history.

While more and more Black women and girls are taking an interest in ballet, Hunter thanked Copeland for being an inspiration to Black women and girls across the globe and helping to open doors.

“We’re not a monolith. We don’t all have the same experience. Not every Black person comes from the hood and is poor,” said Copeland. “And in terms of the ballet world, not every Black person is saved by some white savior and brought into this world and shown the light. And I feel like this book, Black Ballerinas, has really been an opportunity for me to lend our stories in our contributions to what is perceived and shown to the world as an elite white European art form.”

Copeland also clarified that Black people have always been a part of the dance’s history.

“Black people have been contributing to this art form for generations and generations, and it’s not documented. And it’s not available, for people of color to learn about our history, therefore doing a disservice to the art form, because we don’t feel like it belongs to us,” she declares.

The history-making ballerina is made it clear that having a thick skin is a must.

“Sitting in that room, with a room full of white men that run these companies, and sharing my experiences and trying not to get too emotional, because if you’re too emotional, then you’re not built for this. Or there’s just, there’s an array of these microaggressions and things like that, that happen that you just have to be so strong,” she adds. “But at the same time, I encourage young Black girls to be open, and be vulnerable. You have to find that balance, and having a support system around you and people that are going to there to be your strength when you can’t, is so important.”

Watch the full interview below:

Last year, Copeland spoke out about the racial disparities in the world of ballet.

Copeland was told she did not have the right body type and proportions when she was just 17.

“That’s language that’s used that the ballet world can get away with because you’re in a visual art form, it’s about your aesthetic, and it’s subjective. So that’s what they say to Black and brown dancers to disguise saying, ‘You don’t have the right skin color for ballet,'” she said.

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