Chrisette Michele’s Response To Her Inauguration Criticism Is The Real Insult

Photo: John Lamparski/Getty.
I met R & B singer Chrisette Michele in 2007 during the promo tour for her debut album. She belted out some joints from I Am (still her best album, in my opinion) in the middle of a huge Border’s bookstore in Chicago. I worked there at the time and asked my manager to let me abandon my post at the cash register to catch her. I was blown away by the power of her voice and never would have imagined that it would be used in service of welcoming a controversial president with a history of pussy grabbing. In addition to her soulful voice, Chrisette is known for aligning herself with social justice and Black liberation lyrically. The title track from her third studio album is called “Let Freedom Reign” and featured hotep pro-Black rapper Talib Kweli. So imagine everyone’s surprise when the former R&B Divas: Los Angeles star confirmed that she would be performing at Donald J. Trump’s inauguration on Friday. There was a mixture of disappointment and outrage. Spike Lee has decided not to use her music in his upcoming Netflix series. Questlove and her former collaborator Kweli are willing to pay her not to do the gig. And Black Twitter has not let Chrisette’s mentions have a moment’s rest since the announcement.
When you’re joining the celebration of a president-elect who didn’t win the popular vote, the pressure can be intense. Jennifer Holliday, another Black singer who came to fame in the '80s, received similar criticism after she was set to perform at the inauguration and ultimately backed out. But Chrisette is standing her ground. And that ground is shaky to say the least. The singer released a statement on her blog that was then copied to her Instagram account.
I personally find this statement to be more offensive than the performance itself. It uses a lot of inspiring buzzwords and Dr. King quotes to basically say nothing. You think history might be in vain, but you’re participating in a monumental turning point that threatens that history. Who are you speaking for? The 13% of Black men and 4% of Black women who voted for Trump? They may be a minority, but they certainly aren’t “voiceless.” The person they threw their civic weight behind is running the country and tweeting about it the whole time. How are you going to be a bridge? By singing a song? Do you think your sultry melodies are going to inspire Trump to support #BlackLivesMatter or rethink his position on "locker room talk"? Girl. Bye. If you want to ride this wave of publicity and deposit a nice check into your account, by all means, get your money, sis. But don’t insult your fans by suggesting that we’re somehow missing a bigger point about unity and progress.

More from Pop Culture

R29 Original Series