Kandice Mason
By Erickka Sy Savané

It seems like everyday there’s a new story about policing. Whether it’s the actual police arresting or harassing us or private citizens feeling it’s their right to tell us what to do. I mean, the viral video just posted of a crying black girl being sent home from her Christian school for having braid extensions is enough to make you hollar! Seriously, Jesus wouldn’t be down for protective styling? When I came across this story of 6th grade teacher Kandice Mason of North Carolina who was suspended after posting a video of her pole dancing to her private facebook account, I had to wonder, is this another case of white folks policing us or does pole dancing exclude you from being a good role model?

We can’t deny that pole dancing became popular in strip clubs and has been sexualized out the whazoo! If you’ve been to a strip club it’s the pole dancing that can be a main attraction, especially if a girl’s got skillz. But that’s changed a lot over the years. Look up pole dancing in Wiki and you’ll see this:

Pole dance combines dance and acrobatics centered on a vertical pole. This performance art form takes place not only in gentleman’s clubs as erotic dance, but has also recently gained popularity as a mainstream form of fitness, practiced by many enthusiasts in gyms and in dedicated dance studios.[1] Amateur and professional pole dancing competitions are held in countries around the world. Since the mid 2000s, promoters of pole dance fitness competitions have been trying to change peoples’ perception of pole dance to include pole fitness as a non-sexual form of dance and acrobatics, and are trying to move pole into the Olympics as pole sports.

An Olympic sport?! I can just imagine Serena KILL-ing-it!

But taking it back to Ms. Kandice, mom of two with a masters in Psychology, bachelors in English, and a certificate in phlebotomy, who posted the video to her facebook page, yea, she was wearing lingerie or a swimsuit, but her page is also private, so it’s not like she was advertising it for all to see. If anything, it just goes to show that all our ‘friends’ in our facebook circle, aren’t really friends because the video was definitely leaked to school administrators. According to Kandice school officials said:

“As role models for the school system, students, however, employees are responsible for their public conduct … even when they are not performing their job duties as employees of the school system.”

So she was suspended for an activity that might soon be an Olympic sport? Maybe she’s just ahead of her time?

I’ve never done pole dancing myself, but I have many friends who have, especially in LA, where there’s a pole on every corner. So I figured I’d call one, my bestie, to get her thoughts.

Tomiko Fraser-Hines is a model of epic proportions (first African American woman signed to a Maybelline contract, anyone?) and Mom of two. Tomiko took up pole dancing from actress and pole dance instructor Sheila Kelley of S-Factor in LA, for some very practical reasons.

“I wanted to further express my sensuality and femininity, as well as get a good workout. What I loved about the class was that it wasn’t overtly sexual. There were no mirrors in the class, so we didn’t have to worry about how we looked. There were so many women of different backgrounds, and body sizes, and it was just a very supportive community. I’ve seen fully pregnant women on the pole, working it out! Of course, you develop the skills to dance for your man, if that’s what you want, but pole dancing is ultimately for you.”

Says the woman who eventually got a pole for her garage. So you can image that she thinks it’s ridiculous that a woman who pole dances can’t be a role model…

“Pole dancing has become a form of movement and exercise like pilates or ballet. Unfortunately, it’s still seen by many as being sexual and inappropriate because of its origin in the strip club- which I’m not by any means knocking… I will always love how it empowered me as a woman, and I would encourage any woman to take a pole dancing class.”

Kandice feels the same way, and told Buzzfeed news,

“I dance because it’s in my heart, it’s in my soul. I dance because it makes me feel free. It’s a huge part of my identity. Telling me not to dance would be like telling a ballerina to dance in a closet. It would be like telling a butterfly not to fly.”

Photo courtesy of Kandice Mason via Buzzfeed

Hoke County School Board of North Carolina will ultimately have the final say as to whether she will be allowed to teach again in their school system. I’m calling BS on this one. I hope that she will continue to explore who she is as a woman, even if it means she has to fight for her rights or find employment elsewhere.

Do you think that Kandice can’t be a good role model or is this another way to police us?
Erickka Sy Savané is managing editor of CurlyNikki.com, a wife, mom, and freelance writer based in Jersey, City, NJ. Her work has appeared in Essence.comEbony.com, Madamenoire.com, xoNecole.com, and more. When she’s not writing…wait, she’s always writing! Follow her on Twitter, Instagram or