There's something about the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning artist Lizzo that gets people hot and bothered, in both good and bad ways. When she breathes, folks always have something to say about it. Maybe it's her confidence that agitates them or the way she unapologetically creates and occupies space as a plus-sized Black woman, abandoning traditional societal norms as she does it.
Since her rise on mainstream charts, Lizzo has been subjected to fatphobic remarks, racism and harmful misogynoir from all pockets of the globe. Nevertheless, she shines and doesn't care who sees.
This past week, the superstar, who is currently on tour, was joined on stage by representatives from the Library of Congress who presented her with a crystal flute previously owned by President James Madison. This is extraordinary considering that Madison, one of the United States' founding fathers, was a slave owner. Upon his death, Madison owned approximately 36 enslaved people and left no intention in his will to free them. Needless to say, he most likely never envisioned that one of his most prized possessions would be in the hands of a liberated Black woman while she performs with it on stage.
The historical artifact had not been played in over 200 years and white conservatives, namely Republicans, were pissed about it. Right wing trolls like Matt Walsh and Ben Shapiro had a lot to say across social media:
Simply desecrating American history just for the sake of it https://t.co/pYtBZf9gV0— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) September 28, 2022
This Lizzo-flute controversy is a perfect example of what I have termed Face Tattoo Phenomenon™: the phenomenon whereby someone does something deliberately controversial in an attempt to draw attention, and then acts offended when you notice.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 29, 2022
Lizzo's body positivity and messages of self-love, truth and equity through her music and presence as a celebrity makes her so very easy to love. So, why is it that she receives so much deep-rooted vitriol? The answer lies in the bigots who continue to proclaim "Make America Great Again" but have no interest in embracing inclusivity. It is always so amusing when so-called American purists pick and choose when they want uphold and weaponize historical preservation and traditional ethics. But, what angers Republicans most is Lizzo's refusal of conformity—they simply cannot handle it. The misplaced backlash that she's getting ultimately speaks to the antiquated belief that Black people, Black women especially, are still not deemed worthy enough to participate in anything America has to offer. It just goes to show you that for some folks in this country it doesn't even matter if the oldest federal cultural institution in the country co-signs them, there are still a faction of Americans who will blatantly reject them.
Nevertheless, the mere fact that Lizzo continues to excel in the face of mistreatment is a sure sign of her resilience—which is a threat to white folks's ideals of America. No matter how respectable we strive to be or what heights we reach, we will still be seen by many as inadequate. All in all, this incident is a reminder of the power in taking up space while being as visibly Black and proud as possible. It is also a reminder of how Blackness, on all levels, is a form of resistance against narratives that dispute our value to this country. In the end, Lizzo is here to stay, boldly making her mark, and we are proud of her.