In 2011, it still saddens me when cases of racial stereotyping happen, especially in the case of children. The Lifetime series “Dance Moms” displayed an undertone of racial stereotyping in last night’s episode.

Usually, the show is about the ongoing battle between mothers living out their dreams through their young daughters. It took a twist when the only African-American girl on the show, Nia, was required to wear a leopard outfit with an Afro wig while performing a dance number called “LaQueefa.”

Holly, Nia’s mother, was immediately offended by the stereotyping but ironically still put her daughter through the performance and purchased her the Afro wig.

The owner of the dance studio, Abbey, was rather blunt about the fact that she knew she was racially stereotyping Nia. She said that she needed to learn her “ethnic” dance. The mother and Abbey went back and forth and unsurprisingly, nothing was resolved.

With such disrespect, if I were a mother, I would have pulled my child out of the show with urgency. Racial stereotyping in general is outrageous but especially should never be placed on children.

Watch the video here via Jezebel.

What do you think of racial stereotyping taught to little girls? Would you have let your daughter perform?

-Krystal Holmes

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  • Sticky-n-Sweet

    Her “ethnic dance”?! OMG, I don’t even know where to begin with this nonsense…

  • http://howsheworeit.blogspot.com Sorrelle

    What would Alvin Ailey think about Nia’s “ethnic dance”? Oh Abbey.

  • Sally

    Although this dance wasn’t a very good show of it and the afro was a little over the top, I understand that Abbey wants to teach Nia an “ethnic” style of dance. If Nia decides to continue dance as a profession, she will have a much easier time finding a job if she knows these styles.

  • Mere

    Oh lord – this episode is both racially insensitive and wildly sexually inappropriate – I thought watching a group of 8 year olds dancing to Walk This Way was a bit off (saw that at another dance competition) but LaQueefa??? Anyone not sure of the definition can check the Urban Dictionary or watch the South Park episode. Having an 8 year old dance to that song is just disgusting. Either Abbey is completely clueless or she’s a total idiot. Oh – nevermind, even tho it’s basically child porn, it ok because the kid’s black, right? And it’s ethnic, right? In any event, if I were Holly, I’d be waaaay more upset about that than the dumb afro wig – that was just clueless and sad. Holly, find Nia another dance studio!

  • Vanessa

    I actually saw the whole episode and I did use to go to dance school and was also token, just as many minorities are. But never, did I ever get singled out or the ‘ethnic’ dance that the little girl did. It was straight up ghetto, and it wasn’t honestly dancing it was more posing and gymnastics. I felt bad for the mom and her and If I was her mom I would definitely change dance schools. There is no reason she should be made a fool of.
    The girl wasn’t doing jazz, hip hop or even African style dance, to me that is more ethnic than what Abbey made her do. Its a shame.

  • http://Afro-indy.blogspot.com India

    WTH is ethnic dance???????? I’m breathing deeply right now, no need to go off on here… it wont resolve a darn thing.

  • Asia Dupree

    The mother is the problem!!!! This was a teaching moment for her to teach her daughter that sometimes there will be situation in life we will never solve, however, when it’s BLATANT…walk away. Who is paying for the lessons? It’s obvious self-hatered in on the horizon!

  • http://swallowsandglamazons.wordpress.com/ digitalribbon

    I have no words. Where do i start?

  • http://nesheaholic.com LaNeshe

    What?! What ethnic dance did you see showcased there? I didn’t see any dance style at all!

  • Kay Kay

    How come the other girls haven’t been taught “ethnic” dancing? Its amazing how blatantly Abbey just through out the whole “she needs to learn this in order to go forward”..My daughter is part of a dance team (all different minorities) and when it was time for them to do hip hop it wasn’t done in an “ethnic” fashion. She purposely did that & I agree the young girl wasn’t even dancing..I can see if she did an African dancing but the instructor clearly does not know what “ethnic dancing” is. It is not throwing on an afro wig & dancing to a song named Laqueefa..give me a break. I would’ve took my daughter out of the show completely!

  • regina

    I saw this episode as well and it was so hard to watch. While Nia’s mom threw up the fact she is Ivy League educated and makes x amount of money, she should’ve put her degree to work while reading Abbey because she did not get her point across well, in my opinion. What she should’ve said is ethnic is NOT popping and gyrating which is what Nia was doing. Ethnic is about rootedness and story telling the human experience from the African perspective. Then, she should have explained the wig was dated and to put a child in it made her look buffoonish. Lastly, she should’ve said the leopard print costume (unless she played an animal) proves that dance was choreographed through the European perspective. Whites have always viewed Africans as animal-like. I would’ve pulled my child so fast from that number. Though it may have upset Nia, she is a child. When she is older she would’ve understood why her mother did that.

  • Tisiphani

    As a dancer I would suggest this mom snatch her daughter out of that place ASAP. First off she came out of her mouth and said I’ll only send your daughter to ethnic casting calls. Many calls do specify race but not all of them, and she could be going on more castings than just ethnic. Second the “ethnic” dance she had her doing was ridiculous! Where was the african, reggaeton, bahamian inspired moves. She could have done some bollywood dances and I would have been like there it is. She is stereotyping that child and her mom is too busy trying to disassociate herself from being the token that she doesn’t know when to take a stand. Then lets be for real if I put my kid in a dance studio and that was the competition routine her choreographer came up with {walk, walk, walk, pose, flip, pose and pose} I would ask for a refund and promptly get to stepping.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with a lot of comments here. I also sought the episode and watched it online (I found it rather stupid, and I’m a reality TV fan!) Even if the insturcter really wanted her to dance in an “ethnic” style, it sure as heck didn’t show in the routine! And the mom should’ve slapped that woman silly when she started rambling of things that Nia couldn’t do or was bad at. The instructor seems to treat all the parents disrespectfully, one of them needs to stand up to her. Nia’s mom looked like she was about to when she started wagging her finger, but she checked herself because the camera was on her and she didn’t wanna look like a “LaQueefa”

  • Poppy

    Holly should pull Nia out of the that dance studio immediately. Abbey’s lack of knowledge of dance, disrepect of the parents and general bullying should not be tolerate. After watching several espiodes, the girls are learning gymnastic not dance. If parents are hoping their daugthers will join a professional company or even dance on Broadway they need to leave Abbey ASAP.

  • http://queenxofxthexburbs.blogspot.com/ Lynaya

    I’m. Not. Surprised.

  • Misha

    Sally, I am a former professional dancer who has performed for Dance Theatre of Harlem and studied ballet at the Kirov and School of American Ballet. I am now retired but retired a soloist at Ballet Theatre. An all white company. I am an Afro American female. I can’t began to tell you how insulting it is to assume that ethic roles are all that are out there for girls of color. I have studied everything from tap to Dunham to west African dancing to Horton technique which is used in Alvin Ailey’s ballets. And no where is this foolishness or bad choreography present. There is nothing ethic about this. I have also worked with Donald Byrd the choreographer of the Color Purple who is a former ballet dancer. And as well as Garth Fagon who is the choreographer to the Lion King. Both men and production require that one has a strong ballet background and a strong Horton background. This dance does not have anything or even resembles any technique that I have studied or danced. Abby is disgusting and has no talent . Yes I am saying that. As a member of the real dance community I am saying that. I find it disgusting for one to assume that shaking her ass and doing rib isolations would count as Dunham technique or Horton technique. If that what one thinks that is all about then one is sadly mistaken and uneducated. It’s racist. And I would have never permitted my child to perform such a dance. The mother is to blame to. I guess what ever gets someone on TV and ratings counts. Huh? Please learn more about the dance scene. And Afro American girls are not limited to Afros and booty popping. We are in ballet companies and broadway shows as well as modern dance companies. And no choreographer has ever said we want black girls to potray ethic people. I have friends who are choreographers on so you think you can dance, cirque du soliel and ballet companies around the world and broadway. And everyone of them finds this episode and this untalented Dolly Dinkle dancer teacher a slap in the face. But then again what does the general public know. Please think before you say or print something. My name is Misha and I’m a brown skinned black woman and a former ballerina who has worked with many choreographers and performed on TV as well as some of the greatest stages of the world including the Met in NY. And I have never had to lower myself to auditioning for ethic or popping booty rolls. That wasn’t a dance technique or style. That was bad choreography. A bad example of a dance teacher. Bad choice of a mother selling her child out. TV making idiots out of people of color and the general public buying into this lye cause they don’t know any better and are uneducated about how the dance scene works. In all it was racist and wrong. This Abby might as well put the child in an Afro with clear high heels and given her a pole and said, your black, this is all you will amount to. Sliding on a pole.

  • Persephonie

    Another case of over sensitivity. I totally expect to see you all protesting the next time a black person is cast for a black role. I’m sure you’d all be crying if a white person was cast as Obama’s wife on a lifetime movie about the Obamas. LOL. Holly is the racist… I’m sure you would all be LOSING YOUR SKIN if a little white girl was cast in this dance… then it would be people making fun of black people, etc, etc, etc… your crying would go on and on and on and on and on.

  • http://fattiesoslim.tumblr.com FattieSoSlim

    THANK YOU MISHA! I am NOT a professional dancer, but I have enough sense to know that before you are a good “ethnic” dancer, whatever that may be, you have to be a good dancer overall. What kind of dancer would you be if you cannot compete with your white counterparts if you are not sufficient in the basics. It’s with any career. Some people may specialize in the African-American community, but what kind of lawyer, policymaker or activist would they be if they were not trained in the basics? Abbey is AWFUL and quite ignorant for her train of thought, and moreover, that choreography was not dancing, and barely showed any technique. It was a whole lotta prancing, posing, and hands just fluttering. And I congratulate Holly for standing up against her, but she should have put her foot down and said no.

  • LaQueefa

    an expulsion of wind from the vulva during coitus; a vaginal fart.

  • Interested

    Well since it’s illegal to care about anything bad done to Black females, this is the crap you get.

  • So Over This Ish

    Persephonie…are you black or white?

  • Jamila

    Misha! OMG you hit it on the nail. My oldest daughter loves to dance, i busted my tail to get her into a dance program in the city. After her grandmother passed i was no longer able to get her to class and for the past 4 yrs have been looking for a dance studio in my area that does not promote shaking her tail or dancing like chicks in the videos. I want to her continue studying ballet and modern dance taught by a professional dance teacher like the instructor she had. She has so much talent and it could really take her far in life, darn shame not enough good schools out there. FYI, if anyone knows of a good dance studio on North side of Houston. Let me know

  • K-Toa

    Ms. Abby was essentially implying that Nia doesn’t have the grace, temperament or physique to be a classical dancer because of her “heritage.” That also explains why the choreography was so unchallenging compared to what the other girls were given. Sound familiar to any of you older folks out there?

    Obviously, Abby is a lost cause because of her idiotic, bigoted beliefs, but how is it that Nia’s mom, aware that her daughter was being racially stereotyped and exploited, still allowed her child to be used and humiliated that way? (La-QUEEF-a… really? Look that one up.) Just for the sake of being on reality T.V., apparently. Does Arthur Mitchell do interventions?

  • beck the legal sec

    this woman is right. Her words are good. i found it disgusting and very un-dance like. Think of that child gracefully moving across the stage, a lovely and poetic sight, but this was no dance. it was gross. did she win? I didn’t catch the end. Abby failed on this one, but on Where Are the Children, you have to admit, it was good. the moms are all bad, in my stupid opinion, for one reason or another – “GROW UP! You’re 8 years old, for God’s sake!” Really? the woman tht wrote this post is right, in my opinion. Black women are so beautiful in motion, just like white women and all women, when they are talented and move like liquid and have the gift. not all people do. Nia does not. but that was no dance that child performed and the afro looked hideous. poor kids. God be with them.

  • Persephonie

    cocoa and cream baby I’m an Irish/Black mix :)

  • Tiffany W.

    No, Nia did not win. And thank you for your comment, Misha. It was desperately needed.

    I hope the silver lining from this episode is that Abbey never works in dance again. The producers knew what they were doing with this episode, IF it wasn’t scripted.

  • Misha

    Persephonie,
    Not sure if your serious or not. I am married to a white man. And we are expecting a child this year. I have respect for my art. And whether if it were to be a white child or black child the dance was just wrong. There are many different types of races that show up for west African dance class I take. And like me they appreciate the technique and culture. And even take part in the end of the year recital. Whether if it was a white child or black child. It was just poor taste to present that dance. And then to tell that child that’s all she can get? How would you feel if someone told you that you didn’t fit in anywhere cause you were bi-racial. You can’t have what the white girls have cause your not white and you can’t fit in with the black girls cause your skin doesn’t look as define. It’s a silly point huh? You should have the freedom to chose what ever you want to do with out having restriction of your race. And respecting your black/Irish heritage. I had talent. And I worked hard for my career. So for some one to portray me or my child or any child as a silly character and make fun of someone’s race is wrong nd rude. No one is over sensitive. It’s a matter of respect and presenting a positive image. And that wasn’t presented at all. It’s about respecting people. I worked he’d for my dance career. I studied and practiced hard. I’m more than some silly send up.

  • Misha

    LOL! Mr. Mitchell always taught us to have pride in ourselves. He is since retired. But did donate some money to the children I teach. There is still a lack of black ballerinas. It’s a difficult art for black women to break into. For the few of us we are blessed but we go thru a lot of hell. There’s nothing one can do about Abby. We look down on people like her cause she isn’t on the same level of training and skill of teaching and choreography.

  • Misha

    I can ask some friends in Texas. Houston ballet is excellent. But I’m sure there are other schools there.

  • JaeBee

    I agree with the other posters here…Nia’s mother should have prevented her from being exploited by that ‘sperm WHALE’ of a teacher. If she can afford to pay $100,000 in tuition each year for her daughter’s schooling, then I’m sure she can afford to find her a better dance school and teacher that won’t degrade her. The mother should have really been more protective of her daughter.

    And what the hell is an “ethnic dance”? Does she make girls of Irish ethnicity do the “Lord of the Dance” while falling over drunk? Does she make girls of Italian ethnicity do the Italian wedding dance while dressed up in costumes that resemble Jersey shore cast members? I can’t believe this woman thought she could get away with (and did) calling something “ghetto” an ethnically black dance. WTF?

  • Lolabadchick

    There is NOTHING! racist about the little girl wearing a cat suit with an afro. Her mother was overly sensitive about an afro. SAD! because if her mother DIDN’T have a perm… I am certain she would have a dam afro!! but who cares, well she does and no one else!

    However, the name was a bit out there!!!!! Laqueefa! YIKES!!! but there are a lot of black folks with these type of names. Just a FACT!

  • Kya

    Watched the clips and this is what I concluded. That for the chance to be on a reality tv show you will allow your daughter to do something you would probably (I take from her opposition) not allow to happen if it were not being filmed.

    The child is not responsible, the mother however is very responsible. I really want to know does though, does her contract not allow her to tell the diva instructor where to go? Since you’re required to sell your soul, I guess you do have to sign in blood. Please!

  • Kya

    She didn’t want her daughter to wear an afro. She didn’t like that her daughter was wearing an afro wig. She expressed how she felt about it. She is the mother. So we can “think” and opine all we want, I respect her opinion as a mother. Is it a fact, that a lot of Black people have those types of names? Any facts/links to back that up?

  • Kya

    Perhaps it’s because Abbey has no idea what ethnic means, looks likes or translates too in dance. It’s obvious that assigning her an ethnic name, an afro wig and catsuit was enough to feed the stereotype. I don’t watch this show, nor will I.

  • Rhuebekah

    I thought the same thing… whats wrong with your daughter having an afro? Kinda of embarrassing it reminds me of working in Atl and little brown girls pointing and laughing at my AFRO! I would just shake my head how sad they don’t even know what their hair looks like… :( I do think the choreographer is an idiot but your daughter’s hair is permed, she doesn’t have an afro not b/c its out dated but b/c u chemically alter her hair so she fits in at her $100,000 school.

  • Therese

    I was actually more offended that the mother, Holly, was oh so offended by the thought of an afro wig. When referring to the afro, she immediately went to picking cotton and such. What’s so bad about an afro?

  • http://www.GirlsBestFriendandCoBlog.com TheFashionistachic

    I watch this show, first I was offended. Then I watched the last two episodes. The last dance Nia did a middle eastern style dance one prior the Laqueefa. The instructor made a speech about Holly wanting her daughter to be like every other little girl. At first I looked like, what did she say? Then as I watched on, seeing Nia win the last category made me see things differently. Yes, Nia is different and she will get role other other girls wouldn’t be considered to do. The instructor attempt to be progressive and current. Laqueefa was suppose to be a HIP URBAN PIECE, it didn’t go over so well because Nia isn’t urban. It’s kind of a catch 22 to some degree. But the more I think about it, the more I realize it gives us the opportunity to be urban or mainstream.

  • http://www.GirlsBestFriendandCoBlog.com TheFashionistachic

    i’ve signed a reality show contract before. no excuse me i read one but didn’t sign it. its ridiculous. But in regard to Holly, she’s a black upper class professional. You come across attitudes and ignorance when you are in that environment. Educated intelligent people learn to rise about those attitudes and stay focused. She wants her daughter to be a great dancer. Living in suburbia you are limited. I would like my daughter to dance at Debbie Allen’s studio. Its over an hour from my home in Los Angeles and she requires 4 days a week. I still would like my daughter to take dance but the studio in my area or laughable. So Holly is doing whats best for her daughter and not allowing her ego to interfere. She is an intelligent women and I respect her for her efforts.

  • Tonya

    I can see your point as I watched the next few episodes, but I think for me if all the girls were in a routine that was “ethnic” (I use those quotation marks heavily) – then it might not have been protrayed so poorly. I like that Holly brought attention to it but I wish she would have fought harder for her daughter. Abbey, I don’t believe or I hope is not coming from a place of hate – such as a definition of racisim – however, she is ignorant and misguided if she believes this dance was not uncomfortable and offensive to most. The judges did not score the Laqueefa performance well. They knew better.

  • Kat Flare

    There is nothing wrong with the dance she did if u ever saw the show you would no she can not dance!! She never points her toes abbey tells her over and over again about it. Abbey also said that when she gets an audition they will ask her to do ethnic and she will have that down perfect and could nail any act out there….. in my opinion the dances are for fun and teaches kids dancing isn’t all about oh look at me I can spin in circles!! They also show people that they can be serious now I do admit lequeeffa wasn’t the most serious piece but it did tell a story

  • https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/canceldancemoms/ Michelle Garcia

    I’m the proud mother of a dancer from Miami, Florida. My 12 year old has been dancing since she was three and our home is full of trophies, plaques and ribbons that she’s won through the years. Our hearts are full of very fond and very positive memories from these same events. Thanks to organizations like yours, my daughter has made new friends from all over the country and she’s been able to take master classes from very gifted teachers.

    The show is a very cynical and sick depiction of what happens in the dance world. Studio’s don’t learn new routines every month, nor would they ever place a child on stage to perform a routine without knowing the music. So much of this show is based on a script and it’s not real. This just isn’t what happens in the true dance world. This show is an insult to every dance professional, dance student and dance instructor. It’s wrong TV and I want this show cancelled. Dancer’s work so hard and this show doesn’t send a positive message.

    I have a facebook page which I’d like to ask you to join. The page is calling for the cancellation of this show. I’ve also emailed several dance organizations asking that they not allow Lifetime to film at their venue. If they have no place to film, they have nothing to show every week.

  • K-Toa

    Sorry, but this reeks of fallacy. I live in SoCal, and have volunteered at high schools renown for their performing arts programs. The directors of these programs would be aghast at Abby’s straight outta Podunk ignorance of other cultures. If the show choirs or dance ensembles here do a West African dance, ALL the girls, regardless of color, dress in traditional African costume. If it’s an 18th century French piece, ALL the girls dress up in European gowns of that era; the director does NOT take aside girls of color and have them dress as Moorish slaves.

    Ms. Abby needs to broaden her horizons!

  • dave mahoney

    Laqueefa is someone who has an extreme tendency to queef. Seems like Abby was just trying to push the envelope knowing shes got fame behind her and the network wouldn’t drop her over this. She could always say that she had no intentions of offending anyone if it came down to that. The mother could quit the studio but would lose her fame if she did. So Abby’s got her by the ball sack. Someone should queef in Abby’s face.

  • Nia

    Me either.

  • honeyxzillah

    yeah, i’d kick Abby in her face if she suggested my daughter do some crap like that. we would be finding a different studio, nothing is worth sacrificing your self-respect over. every concession one makes for a person who disrespects you adds up in the psyche in a bad way.

    wtf is an ethnic dance, anyway?

    no one should pay for another person’s ignorance, just ridiculous.

  • Kim Fenwick

    Hey Holly,

    Please throw away that Ivy league doctorate. You and your daughter have set black people back 200 years. Not only have you allowed your daughter to perform as a buffoon, but you continue to finance it. My daughters will never watch this show. Girlfriend, you should have gone to an HBCU….you would have received a GREAT education. Ummph, video is forever.

  • Bronze

    Nia’s moms knees make me wanna puke.

  • Amber

    This episode was terrible. I’m 19 & a dancer. Currently a junior dance major pursuing a BFA in Dance. I had problems with both the mother & Abby during this episode. First off, the fact that Abby called THAT ethnic dance REALLY bothered me. People referring to just African dance styles as ethnic dance bothers me period since I believe that even ballet should be considered an ethnic dance form (check out “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance” if interested). Also, the choice of music & movement was just upsetting for me! But the problem I had with the mother were her feelings about the afro. She made a statement that it’s 2011, we don’t wear afros anymore. o_O we don’t? I can’t even say anymore. The whole situation upset me. SMH

  • Amber

    This statement just shows you don’t know much about dance at all. It told a story? -_- oh okay

  • Jasmine

    I actually danced for Abbey about 15 years ago and she hasn’t changed a bit. I do think the fame is going to her head and this would just bring her more attention. It doesn’t matter what kind of attention she gets and at who’s expense it comes. She is definitely going great lengths to get ratings. To be honest, if Holly she should have stood her ground and not allowed her child to wear the costume.

    Abbey’s attitude toward dancing has always been extreme. She bullied me when I was younger and danced for her. My mother pulled me from the dance studio soon after. Granted, many of her students have gone to Broadway, but looking back, it amazed me how badly she would talk to the students… and we were kids.

    I’ve never had respect for Abbey and still don’t.

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  • tina

    Its called typecasting, not racism. Should she have used a white dancer and put black face on her? That would be racist too, right? Maybe the white girl wouldn’t have needed black face, but then you would have said she was racist for not giving the part to the black girl. Maybe you would be more comfortable watching the show “bring it.”

    I think its pathetic when we try to grasp at racism straws when we don’t like something. Why don’t you stop hating the world and people will stop hating you.