Racial Stereotyping For Little Girls

Illustration for article titled Racial Stereotyping For Little Girls

Normally Dance Moms revolves around the social politics amongst the mothers who are competing with one another when it comes to living their dance dreams vicariously through their children. But last night's episode was actually all about racial politics as Nia—the only African American child in the troupe featured on the show—was required to wear leopard print and an Afro wig for a number called "LaQueefa."

Nia's mother Holly was immediately put off by the stereotyping, and was particularly irked by the Afro wig, although she inexplicably relented and bought her daughter the wig and allowed her to go on stage to perform the number. Abby, on the other hand, was totally upfront about the fact that she's stereotyping Nia, saying that the girl needs to learn how to do "ethnic" dances for casting calls, because those are the kinds of roles for which she'll be auditioning. After the performance, Holly and Abby exchanged words, and Abby came off really poorly when she implied that Nia was getting special price breaks on tuition because of the color of skin. Holly was incredulous, responding that she pays $100,000 a year in private school tuition and she can afford Abby's school. (Where is Holly sending Nia? Yale?)

Honestly, though, if I were Holly or Nia, I'd be more pissed about the fact that the number actually featured very little dancing, and certainly nothing "ethnic," as Abby had promised was so important. And why wasn't anyone laughing about the fact that the number was called "LaQueefa!"? The only thing that's ethnic about that name is that it sounds like French for "pussy fart."

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Jane, you ignorant slut.

What broke my heart is that the Nia did seem to like her dance and love her costume until all the moms started making a big deal about it in front of her. I think ultimately her dance performance suffered because she was feeling self-conscious about it. She seemed much more energetic in her solo rehearsal.

Holly's issues with the dance were legitimate. But it should have been handled completely behind closed doors, with Abby, before the competition. She shouldn't have dragged the other mothers into it, she definitely shouldn't have let Cathy go on about how horrible the outfit and wig were infront of Nia while she was preparing to go onstage, and she shouldn't have expressed doubts about the venture in front of Nia. If she was going to pull the entire routine, that would have been different. But if you're going to send your kid up onstage in a National competition, it's not fair to the kid to send her up there filled with doubts about whether you, her mom, approve of what she's doing.

It would have been nice to see a conversation between Holly and Nia about the issue, too, with Holly explaining to Nia why she was uncomfortable with the routine and costume Nia was having such fun with.