“Excuse me, ma’am,” I said, “do you carry black ballerinas?”
“I’m sorry, we don’t,” she said.
I explained, “I want to buy a ballerina for my niece who loves to dance, but I can’t buy a white one.”
“We’ve tried,” she said. “Black ballerinas are so rare. They just keep telling me they don’t have them.”
I asked, “Even with Misty Copeland?!”
Her jaw dropped. She was silent.
She brought me over to a wall where they did have two ornaments with a black little girl dancing. She wasn’t an angel, but it was close enough. Still, it was all too much.
As she showed me all five black ornaments in a store dedicated to ornaments, tears filled my eyes and began to spill over. We are not wanted in this world. We are erased — from the public through police brutality and mass incarceration. And we are even erased from popular conceptions of Christmas and heaven. There are no black angels there.
Lisa Sharon Harper is chief church engagement officer for Sojourners and co-author of “Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith.”