We were in Time Square in New York City just before a street show was about to start. An area had been made clear so that 5 or 6 performers had room to move. And move they did. They did a mix between gymnastics, dance and acrobatics. They had a smooth patter that was fun and engaging. They poked fun at, with probably more dexterity than any physical move they made, racists and racism. They were strategic and they kept us laughing so that we wouldn't realize that we would have to think of them and their words on the way home.
All of the performers were black, were lean, and very, very strong. Their physical prowess as they did some of the moves was literally awe inspiring. One of the fellows that I thought was a support guy was suddenly yanked into the limelight. He was big, much bigger than the others. They acknowledged, as he did, that he tended more to fat than to lean. The group encouraged him to dance and the audience, on cue, started to laugh. He was obviously not a peer of the others. So, he got down and did a couple of somersaults, awkwardly, and the crowd was now laughing with more derisive tone.
Then he returns to where he was when he was shoved back out. The music went up and he danced and moved and owned the space he was in. I was, for a moment, in love with him. He had played the audience. Played to the stereotypes they coddled in their minds. He let them be openly prejudiced and then shut them down, shut them up. It was A.W. E. S. O. M. E.
I love moments like that.
I love people like him.
That right there is civil liberties work.
What they did there is as important as any speech anyone has ever made.
Change begins with challenge. Doesn't matter that it's set to music.