Saturday, November 12, 2016



Dear Dante, what is realness?

You wanna talk about realness? Let's talk about realness! 

Realness, as a term, comes from the Ballroom Scene, and so I must start there. However, I am not going to use Peggy Phelan's (realness as "just" passing) or Judith Butler's (realness as something that cannot be read) ideas of realness, I am going to use the Ballroom's idea...which is living your truth. 

Now to say that there is a singular truth is to think inside of a western construct of individuality. Instead, I pose to use the perspective of the Black Radical Tradition (from Cedric Robinson), which says we are many, and we share with each other many ideas. We are not individuals, but many individuals in our collective accumulation of experiences. This allows us to know that there are many truths, many realness that we can explore, dance, and become.

To look at realness as an academic-ethnographer, the Ballroom Scene provides us evidence that there is no such thing as "real" or "authentic". Thus, if valuations and qualifications can be simulated, then there is no differentiation between the "real identity" and the "mask/veneer/facade". What this reveals, is that there is a "real identity of the other, known inside ourselves, as ourselves" -- then, realness is the praxis of excavation of those identity performances and dances, and presenting it, performing it, in originality and fierceness.    

I hope that clears some things up.

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