Throughout the past couple of months, an increasing amount of black celebrities have come forward to cape for President-Elect Donald Trump, in the form of visits to Trump Tower, and bookings at today’s inaugural festitvities. In almost every case, people such as Steve Harvey, Jennifer Holliday, Martin Luther King III, Chrisette Michelle, and Kanye West, have suffered severe backlash from black folks who have taken their associations with Trump as a sign of a type of self-serving treason. In a week where we have seen the disrespectful Trump-led tirade against pioneering activist, Rep. John Lewis, celebrated the birth and legacy of civil rights icon, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and mourned the introduction of one of the most controversial and socially destructive Presidential administrations in recent memory, most of these aforementioned celebrities have looked towards King’s legacy as a justification for their actions. Yesterday, in light of the revelation that Chrisette Michele was secretly tapped to perform at Trump’s inauguration, the 34-year-old singer had this to say in response to the immediate and vast criticism:
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us.
I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain.
This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us.
Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind “These Stones”, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.
I am here.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters,”.
I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.” -Chrisette Michele
Let me tell you what ya’ll NOT gone do.
You are NOT going use Martin Luther King Jr. as a justification for your tomming. Newp. Not one bit. Martin Luther King Jr. was a social radical, whose methods of nonviolent civil disobedience threatened the racially oppressive infrastructure of the United States, and played a colossal role in dismantling many forms of legislation aimed at the oppression of African Americans. He was far more than a few select choice words on Brainy Quote. And yes, while Martin Luther King adopted the idea of love towards those that hate, he was FAR from complacent. He died for his faith in humanity, and his commitment to the betterment of black lives, poor lives, and other oppressed minorities EVERYWHERE. So to chalk up your interactions with Trump to being only in accordance with the ideologies of Martin Luther King, especially when you’re being paid to do so, or receiving press is attention seeking, and a desecration to his memory. The fact of the matter, is that not Trump, his racist appointed cabinet, nor his volatile rhetoric have done anything to deserve our support, trust, or understanding.
Representation vs. Capitalization
I read a post on a friend’s Facebook page the other day, which in part called on other marginalized people to stop reacting so harshly when a person of color willingly goes to a meeting at Trump Tower, as it should be seen as a brazen attempt to impart the representation so desperately needed in their new President’s eyes. While I agree with the sentiment that discussions involving Trump and people representative of the country he was elected to
dictate govern is of the utmost importance, the inescapable fact of the matter is that we haven’t a clue as to what conversations are being held in these celebrity socials. In all of these meetings, the overarching convention is Trump’s eagerness to “Make America Great Again”. What answers have these so-called “messengers” procured in an effort to squelch our unabashed fear? For all we know, they could all be planning reality tv spinoffs, and picking out china patterns to use for the next four years.
Well, I’ve got questions.
1. Jennifer, did you bother to ask if the LGBT people who love you will be protected from violence, before you consented to performing at the inauguration? Watchu doing, Effie? I know you cancelled, but still.
2. Chrisette, did you find out if Trump plans on continuing to sexually assault women? Are we going to be able to continue to use our insurance for birth control? Can we continue to have the right to choose?
3. Steve, did you find out if Trump still intends on trying to make stop-and-frisk a thing again?
4. Ye’ were you too caught up in your own hype, or did you bother to ask Donny about how he intends on helping us out in Chicago, without stripping away our liberties?
5. Mr. King, you know your mother sent a letter to prevent Jeff Sessions, a known racist, from being a federal judge, right? He’s now our Attorney General. Your president did that.
6. Did anyone bother to ask how we can protect our senior citizens, or keep our health insurance?
7. Dat wall doe? Is that really happening? We really plan on kicking out our undocumented peeps?
9. Did anyone speak up for our Muslim brothers and sisters? Nope? K.
Being on the cusp of what is sure to be a tumultuous four years, I can’t help but question the moral compasses of these celebrities. Is this yearning for acceptance under the white gaze, and the unquenchable thirst to cash them Trump checks worth the trouble they cause? Are the pounds of flesh you trade in worthy of the temporary fame a trending topic on Twitter lends you? Yes. Yes, it is that deep. The absolutely most infuriating part of it all, is that though there is some form of payment, be it financial or otherwise, that ya’ll will lie through your teeth and claim Dr. King’s legacy as sanctuary from the betrayal against your own.
So to Chrisette, Steve, Kanye, Jennifer, MLK III, let’s make this plain and clear:
You ARE NOT doing it for the culture.
You DO NOT speak for me.
You AIN’T fooling nobody.
You SHOULD be ashamed of yourselves.
Martin weeps for you.