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Go Sista! Ballerina Sets Record as the First Black Female Soloist at the American Ballet Theatre

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By Staff Blogger

Almost every day, there is a story that perpetuates and reinforces negative stereotypes and ideas about Black women. Many young girls are exposed to these images and they become so normative that these young ladies emulate what they see.  Whether it is reality TV shows or music videos, positive images of Black women in popular culture are hard to find. The reality is that there is no such thing as a monolithic Black woman and Misty Copeland is proof of that.

Misty Copeland is a young woman who is defying stereotypes and taking the ballet industry by storm. The beautiful and graceful Black ballerina is also making history. At the age of  30, Misty Copeland is the first black female in over 20 years to be a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre. Her journey is an inspirational one that emphasizes her tenacity and her unwillingness to give up and quit.
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Misty was raised poor in California. One of five siblings, she spent part of her youth living in a motel room. She recounts days being both hungry and afraid. She often spent hours just getting to and from her school.

At the age of 13, she was discovered by a ballet instructor at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California.  Not only was she discovered in an unlikely place, but by dance standards, she was relatively old.

Interviewed by the New York Post, she explains, “I  had no introduction to the arts in any way — definitely not the fine arts,” she says. “Survival was our Number 1 priority, not extracurriculars, or a career. These were not things we thought about.”

Today, she is an agent of change. She advocates so that other African-American  girls can be  introduced to a field that is traditionally dominated by whites.

She continued by asserting, “For young African-Americans to feel that they have a chance to see a brown face on the stage, that ballet isn’t this white world that’s untouchable to them — I think having that visual does so much,” she says. “I think it’s so important for them to see me and to hear me.”

We congratulate Misty Copeland on her accomplishments and fortitude. Hopefully young girls everywhere will be inspired.