Chrisette Michele is one of the latest examples of how some people in the black community—particularly on social media—seem to lie in wait for a black woman to make a public misstep just so they can throw her in the trash.
Things haven’t been the same for Michele since she performed at the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Yes, I said “president” because if there is one person who is an amalgamation of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy on which this nation was founded and in which it still wallows, it is the Donald—and his little dog Sessions, too. As I’ve said many times, Trump is what happens when a nation lies to itself about the depth of its character.
So as A-list celebrities decided that their contribution to the revolution would be to neither attend nor perform at the inauguration from the Twilight Zone, Michele, bless her heart, agreed to sing.
And all black hell broke loose.
The entire black delegation, including Spike Lee, came for her head, and she was pronounced banned from the cookout. It was collectively decided that when the beat drops and Cash Money starts taking over for the ’99 and the 2000, Michele would no longer be allowed to walk it like a dog in public spaces. She didn’t pray and vote for the man like some people’s gospel favorite, but she was still dismissed and has been shown absolutely zero mercy ever since.
On Friday the “A Couple of Forevers” singer shared on Instagram that her record label dropped her in the midst of the storm. Not only that, but Michele revealed that she became suicidal and suffered a miscarriage as former fans turned vicious and adoration turned to scorn. In response, both the YBF and The Root ran stories today that mocked her experiences—or, in YBF’s case, the way that she chose to share them—and framed her truth as nothing but a ploy to win back black fans who canceled her for having the gall to sing at Trump’s inauguration. To make matters worse, many of the comments under her posts are a cesspool of ignorance and inhumanity.
Listen, I don’t agree with Michele’s stance on Trump and the power of superficial reconciliation, but it is not one that is unfamiliar, particularly in this political moment. There are some black people who legitimately believe that antagonizing the white supremacist president of the United States is not the smartest idea. They legitimately believe that having a seat at his table, even if they have to enter and exit through the back door, is preferable to an all-out war. They believe that if black people stroke his ego, play the game, that he will show his appreciation through policies that reflect and protect our humanity.
I will go to my grave saying that those people are dead wrong, but I won’t throw them away; I just know who is and who isn’t my tribe.
You know who else isn’t my tribe? Those black women who donned pink pussy hats and jumped to forgive Hillary Clinton for referring to black and Latinx teens as “superpredators,” who scrambled to minimize her vigorous support for welfare reform that stigmatized and criminalized black and Latinx mothers, and who feigned ignorance of her impeccable manipulation of the white-woman card throughout the 2008 election cycle against then-Sen. Barack Obama simply for a chance to work in—or be in proximity to—her White House.
It is what it is.
That doesn’t mean that, if one of them publicly spoke about wanting to die after being ostracized by people she thought she was in community with and suffering a miscarriage, I wouldn’t either offer words of encouragement and empathy, or practice the undervalued art of shutting the fuck up.
Michele shared her pain. She talked about being in one of the darkest places a woman can be in (I’ve been there), and she talked about experiencing one of the most painful things a woman can experience (I’ve experienced it)—and she has been ridiculed and attacked for it. She has even been accused of lying. Because that’s what society does to black women: Treat us as if we don’t bleed.
Lest we forget, Kanye West, who has been known to wrap himself in a Confederate flag, stood shoulder to shoulder with his great friend Trump in Trump Tower. Ye may be criticized, but no matter what he does, he’s always one monster hit away from being applauded, and he is always loved. It’s complicated, let the liquor tell it.
Of course, this goes far beyond electoral politics.
R. Kelly is out here preying on young black girls—and has been for decades—but some black people will be calling Michele trash at the cookouts she’s no longer invited to while they “step in the name of love” and whisper to their 17-year-old girl cousins, who sure have grown since the last time they saw them, that they “remind them of something.”
Remember Rick Ross’ verse from U.O.E.N.O.?
“Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.”
After facing the full brunt of women’s fury and losing a Reebok endorsement deal, Ross issued an apology in which he made it clear that he does not “condone” rape. He’s absolutely right. He did not “condone” rape; he admitted to being a rapist. Still, he lost a few pounds, grunted a few times, and now? He’s back on top of the world.
The list goes on and on. Although the NFL shelters serial rapists and abusers, it took the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick for standing against police brutality, and Trump damn near calling for the lynching of black men during a nationally televised event in Alabama, for a boycott of the league to begin in earnest.
But black women like Michele? She sang a song, and for that, she can’t even be offered a reprieve from the vitriol, not even for one moment. In our digitally driven world, that’s something increasingly hard to find if you’re not a man or a white woman.
In a world where black women are supposed to be too strong to consider suicide, Michele came forward. In a world where black women have been made to feel as if they are nothing if they cannot bear children, Michele came forward. I appreciate her for that. I hear her. I am willing to put aside differences in political strategy and say that I am deeply sorry for her loss and I’m glad that she’s in a healthy place.
Sis, I am deeply, truly sorry for your loss. You are seen. You are loved.
Because that’s what I want for black women: healing, liberation and freedom.
And if we, as a so-called community, can’t even fight for that, then I don’t know what the hell we’re fighting for at all.