Dance, Amari
(for Amari Diaw)

Do not untie your hair, Amari. Do not,
for perfect pliés and pirouettes, turn
from native locks or wish for whiteness.
Kick up your thick-boned legs in cultured
protestation. Avoid unbraided simulation.
Take first position, stand on pointed principles.
Deconstruct the dance politic.

Amari Diaw is a four-year-old, African-American resident of New Bedford, MA, who faced being banned from her dance school recital in the summer of 2003 because she wore braids which could not be “slicked back and pulled into a bun.”
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