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Using My Voice for Good

by Briana Bell
18 years old

Recently, I was scrolling on Instagram and came across a petition advocating for large dancewear companies to make ballerina pointe shoes in various shades of brown for Black people and other people of color. Pointe shoes are typically European pink and made for white ballerinas.

The petition only had a few signatures, so I decided to share it on my Twitter account. I also included some words of my own and explained that as Black ballerinas, we have to apply color to, or “pancake,” our pointe shoes to match our skin.

Overnight, I had hundreds of thousands of retweets and likes! Journalists began sending me direct messages and asked to interview me. Eight news outlets published articles with my input so far.

Following the media coverage and the petition having garnered thousands of signatures, Bloch and Capezio, the two front runners in the dancewear industry, released statements saying that they heard our cries for equality and would comply. This fall, both brands will launch new pointe shoe collections featuring different shades of brown for Black ballerinas.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be a while before I can return to the dance studio, but this victory has returned a light to my spirit amid the very depressing climate in the world today.

Growing up as an SGI member, I have always interacted with all kinds of people, whether they are of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, etc. It’s just normal to me. As a Buddhist, I wasn’t raised to discriminate against others, so whenever I see people being mistreated, I have to speak up.

“One Youth. Infinite Hope.” means that there is so much hope and potential in just one youth who stands up to speak their truth and remains firm in their beliefs. That’s when true change begins.

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