If Chrisette Michelle was hoping for a slot on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s upcoming Netflix TV series adaptation of his 1986 pic She’s Gotta Have It, she can forget it. The Grammy-winning R&B singer drew massive criticism today after belatedly revealing that she had accepted an invitation to perform at inauguration festivities for incoming President Donald Trump, including from Spike Lee himself. This morning, Lee took to his Instagram, stating that he had considered using Michelle’s song “Black Girl Magic” in the Netflix series but, in light of her decision to perform, has changed his mind.
Ouch. To be fair, how much of a done-deal the use of Michelle’s song actually was is unclear. It admittedly sounds more like Spike Lee likes the song and was considering it but hadn’t actually licensed it yet. Even so, it was a big symbol not only of the criticism heaped at Michelle, but at the cultural fight over who is, and who isn’t willing to be associated publicly with incoming President Donald Trump.
Shocking no one, the vast majority of popular artists fall into the latter camp. That’s especially true for African American artists, thanks in no small part to the president-elect’s campaign, which relied heavily on well documented support from white nationalists and, let’s be honest, well-documented implied reciprocal support from Trump and his team for the same.
Michelle is as it turns out fully aware of that unfortunate context, but insists it’s important to reach out nonetheless. “We Can’t Be Present If We’re Silent,” she said in a message posted to her own Instagram today, explaining that while she is devastated over the election results, she hopes for “peaceful & progressive conversation,” and that she is “willing to be a bridge.” Read the whole thing below.
"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 #NoPoliticalGenius We Can't Be Present If We're Silent | LINK IN BIO
Whatever else happens during the next four years, the divisions over the incoming Trump administration are going to be hashed out again and again in popular culture. So it goes.