When I saw her face pop up in my news feed, I was genuinely excited! It was so good to see the Grammy-award-winning singer back on the scene. But, when I saw that the title of her interview with Roland Martin for TV One was Chrisette Michele Bounces Back, I braced myself for the tone of this interview. And just as I suspected, there was this undertone of groveling (for lack of a better word) and begging for apology that Chrisette offered her fans.
Before I dive in with my opinions on the story, let me first say that I love Chrisette. I really feel like she and I are kindred spirits, AND I am a proud member of the Rich Hipster sisterhood. I’ve been listening to her music from the beginning, downloading her albums and even tuned into reality television (which I rarely, if ever do), because my sister-friend Chrisette was apart of the lineup. So when I heard that my play cousin in my head was scheduled to sing for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration celebration, I cringed. But, not for the reasons one would think.
First and foremost, I innately knew why Chrisette had said yes to the controversial presidential invitation. She’s a flower child, Kumbaya Kid (like yours truly) and thought that this was her chance to spread love in the midst of ugly hatred. I get it. But, I cringed because I also knew the warzone she was entering, even though her intentions were pure. And sure enough, her interview for TV One revealed my assumptions that Chrisette simply “wanted to bring healing” to America through singing a song of hope with Gospel recording artist Travis Green.
After her controversial performance, Chrisette said that she was afraid to perform on another stage because she was uncertain how fans would react to her presence. “I didn’t know if people would throw things at me.” Chrisette said. The backlash she received on social media for performing was cruel and unusual, but that negativity was juxtaposed with fans still showing up and singing along with the R&B diva at her concerts. This left Chrisette “confused” about where she stood with the black community.
As she walked the fine line of being in and out of good graces with Black Twitter, Chrisette faced even more devastation behind the scenes when her record label Capital Records dropped her distribution, she miscarried her baby and had looming suicidal thoughts. All of this was happening to this beautiful spirit, and all critics could bring themselves to do was spew venom her way because she decided to sing on President Trump’s stage.
Hearing the turmoil and triumph of Chrisette’s story made me begin to question the plight of the black female leader and all that she is asked to take on in order to be deemed worthy as an official “Black Community Leader & Spokesperson.” First, I’ll go on record as saying that black people (my people) are some of the most fickle and wishy-washy people that you’ll ever meet. And when it comes to our choice of leaders – especially women- we have no problem “tossing the baby out with the bath water” if leaders don’t meet our every expectation.
Considering the time in which we live, and the climate of racial tension in America, I can understand why fans were upset with Chrisette. But to burn her at the stake like she never did anything for the black community is just as preposterous as the nonsense that President Trump daily posts on Twitter. Like Chrisette said, if she had more black community advisors behind the scenes to help her make her decision, she would have probably chosen differently when it came to performing for the inauguration. But instead when her supposed friends and colleagues–Spike Lee and QuestLove, specifically–took to twitter to air her out instead of calling her personally, that was the biggest hurt and betrayal of all.
When it comes to the black female leader, she is often scrutinized more severely than her male counterpart. Roland Martin pointed this out when he asked Chrisette why Travis Green-who performed with her on the same stage- wasn’t ostracized by fans for making the exact same performance. Chrisette said she believed that Green was able to “bounce back quicker” because he released new music and went on tour sooner. I disagree. I think this double standard is an apparent reflection of how the black community reveres the black male leader above his female counterpart.
As a black woman who leads, our community wants us to say the right things, sing the right tune, be all things to all men and look amazing while we do it. And if we make one decision that’s considered a misstep, we are exiled and villanized by our own people. Why then would any female leader want to stand and remain in such hostile territories? Let’s just say that it takes a special type of woman to stand; and I salute Chrisette Michele for standing and still calling her space as an influencer, songbird and leader her own. Indirectly, she is showing other women how to stand in our rightful position regardless of hurtful backlash that originates from fellow black people.
What do you think about Chrisette Michele’s performance for President Trump’s inauguration celebration? Do you think there is a double standard in the black community when it comes to men and women leaders? Let’s continue the conversation below.
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