Earlier this month, three high school girls from Maplewood, NJ performed a powerful lyrical dance to Nina Simone’s song “Strange Fruit” for a special dance event taken place at Columbia High School. However, their school community deemed the performance offensive.
The song, which is about slavery and the lynching of African Americans, over the played statements about police brutality and the oppression that black people faced.
According to NJ.com, choreographer of the performance, Kendi Whitaker, reported that she received backlash from her teachers at Columbia because it “struck a chord of racial tension in the community. Ms.Whitaker then address the South Orange Maplewood Board of education.
Whitaker stated to the Board of Ed. members:
“The voice overs that were added to the song spoke on police brutality and the discomfort that black people feel every single day”
“”The only people who should be able to say they felt any type of pain from this piece are black people and that’s because we have to sit and relive and listen to what our ancestors had to go through as well as what our brothers and sisters go through on a daily basis. Unfortunately my heart is unable to ache for these teachers who are complaining about the discomfort they felt for four minutes…”