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The Library Is Open: A Few Final Reads On RPDR All Stars 3

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Already in shock that Shangela was barricaded from the top two, I was preparing myself for a Kennedy Davenport win. Kennedy utterly slayed the final lip-sync to an unimpressive song that mostly favored the other queen. Kennedy performed better than her competitor throughout the season, which was not hard seeing that the other half of the top two did not win a single challenge. Because I like to be naive at times, as it can be cute and endearing, I hoped Kennedy would be the choice. However, my ancestors and the spirits who hold my past traumas spoke to me and said, “Sis, you know better than that- we’ve already prepared you for this moment.” So, as RuPaul announced the country queen as the winner, this complicated feeling swept over me. It was a mixture between surprise and this intense calm.

via GIPHY

Because I at times commit to poor decisions, I decided to watch the finale at a local bar- one that is queer friendly. Well, white queer friendly. The crowning was accompanied by the whitest and loudest applause I’ve heard in a bar setting- applause and noise that rivaled any sporting event I’ve ever watched in a public space. This reminds me that I am never safe in this Black fat body, no matter if the setting is queer and well-intentioned.

Yes, I know RPDR is riddled with every ism and phobia, but still I thought better of these people. Click To Tweet

I feel guilty for being angry, because I know this show remains problematic in many ways. However, I am legit sadden by this expected surprise. Yes, I know this show is riddled with every ism and phobia, but still I thought better of these people. And of course someone will soon hop on my timeline telling me that I shouldn’t care so much- and honestly I will probably cuss them the phuck out. I would hope I’d respond differently, but I know my brand. Smh.

This season, this episode, triggered some bad memories and emotions for me. Once again, it told me that I will never be enough in this fat, Black, queer body. Whiteness and white mediocrity will often be the victor, will often be praised, and will do their best to gaslight you when it’s all said and done.

Cast of Paris is Burning

Here are a few insights I must get off my heart. In the tradition of Paris is Burning, I honor the Black and brown queens who made drag what it is today…

The library is open, hunty.

Kennedy Davenport doesn’t deserve your pity. She deserves no one’s pity because she is a boss. She is a champion with or without the crown. She deserved to be in the Top four, and deserved to beat that other gurl in the final two. Not a read, just true.

Shangela was the clear winner. CLEARLY. And her face showed me that she knew she was morally better than most queens in that room, in that moment. Halleloo.

RuPaul once said that drag pokes fun at the rules (a loose interpretation of something he actually said), but in practice has successfully helped white cis-heteropatriarchy thrive in drag. RuPaul is committed to uplifting whiteness, as it is attached to capitalism. Sis wants another Emmy and a much larger check- the internalized anti-Blackness has runneth over, all over those pretty suits and pretty gowns. RuPaul must have sincerely been flattered by the winner’s impersonation of him in the Snatch Game.
…And he is a legend and a trailblazer.

Beware of white people who think this chick with the ethnic puff on the top of her head deserved to win. They are the same people who whisper #AllLivesMatter to one another in Black and brown spaces. They are the same people who love having Black friends, but are absent when violent shyt goes down. They are the same people who are hypercritical of Black queens, but then show up to their shows and events to steal dance moves and drag techniques. They are the Toros of life, a la the white cheerleaders in Bring it On.

The white queen whose name rhymes with silk, and makes me proud to be lactose intolerant is…spolied.

Bebe Zahara Benet is me if I ever do drag. Muva is unshakable. It was clear that she didn’t define her worth by what these other queens thought. She doesn’t have to be crowned the queen because she already knows she is one.

The white queen who dons dreadlocks showed her anti-Black and classist ass in her original season by how she treated both Bob The Drag Queen and Chi Chi DeVayne. <sigh> Some things never change. However, she was the only queen who voted for Shangela to be in the top two.

I was waiting for Aja to conjure Crystal LaBeija once Ru announced the top two. However, Aja chose the Milwaukee queen over Shangela to be in the top two, so perhaps LaBeija was out to lunch with Monique.

I’m noticing on social media that a lot of the Black and brown queens are on this condragulations tour- celebrating a queen that had no business winning, and avoiding any of the racialized critiques. To them, I say be careful. Click To Tweet

I’m noticing on social media that a lot of the Black and brown queens are on this condragulations tour- celebrating a queen that had no business winning, and avoiding any of the racialized critiques. To them, I say be careful. There are young Black and brown queens who are looking up to you, and learning how to address racism and anti-Blackness in this industry by carefully observing your every move. However, I understand that your speaking up puts your booking fee at risk, your livelihood at risk. This is how white supremacy traps Black and brown bodies.

White queens who talk about white supremacy, misogyny, and queer and transantagonism on their platforms, I await your voice in this conversation. It is your responsibility to challenge your fellow white queens, and your problematic followers. Get to it.

I also want to be clear. I believe the winner of the third cycle of All Stars identifies as biracial/multiracial with roots to the Ojibwe people, and that matters in their journey to the crown. And, in this industry, this human still benefits from white privilege in some truly complex ways. Trixie, you have a responsibility in this conversation as well.

The Library is closed, officially.

via GIPHY

In closing.

All (Monique) heart, we love you, Shangela. We love you, Bebe. And we love you, Kennedy. Please continue to shine for usHere is my love letter to you all.

 


Cody Charles is the author of Mudbound: Uncovering The Parts Of Ourselves We Sacrifice In Order To SurviveA Dream Undeterred: 10 Dreams I Want To Live Out In My Black Fat Queer Body In 2018Our Favorite Blackity Black Quotes In Black CinemaEngaging My Black Fat Body, Re-Imagining Black LoveYou Can’t Outdo Black PeopleBlack Joy, We Deserve ItThe Night The Moonlight Caught My Eye: Not a Review but a Testimony on the Film Moonlight5 Tips For White Folks, As They Engage Jordan Peele’s Get Out. (No Spoilers), and What Growing Up Black And Poor Taught Me About Resiliency. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit his blog, Reclaiming Anger, to learn more about him.

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R. Kelly Charged AGAIN

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Thursday prosecutors in New York charged embattled singer-songwriter R. Kelly with bribery, alleging the artist and his crew bribed a government official over 20 years ago. 

On August 30, 1994, the day before Kelly married the late Aaliyah, he bribed a public servant to doctor an ID in an effort to obtain a marriage license to the underage girl. That’s one day before the two got married. 

via GIPHY

Reminder: Kelly has always maintained he did not know Aaliyah’s true age at the time, but this new allegation could make him rethink his statement. So far, his attorneys have brushed off the charge calling it “still the same nonsense.”

The charge is being added to an ongoing racketeering case against Kelly which includes child pornography, sexual exploitation of a minor, and kidnapping indictments. 

Expect to see this all play out in federal court in 2020. Grab your popcorn.

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R. Kelly Girlfriend Denies Creating Patreon Account, Parents Respond

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In a video statement given to TMZ on Wednesday, Joycelyn Savage, 23, fiercely denied setting up a Patreon account in her name or posting a cryptic message to an Instagram account previously linked to her. 

“It has been said that I have left him and he has abused me and all kinds of nonsense. I have said before none of it is true… I also want to say please do not believe what you see and hear on social media. That is not my Instagram. Someone is impersonating me.”

Last week, Patreon, a website that helps creators earn money, shut down an account claiming to be Savage citing an inability to “verify the identity of the account holder.” Many donated to the campaign with the expectation of getting more details of the abuses alleged in the anonymous posts. According to the unauthenticated posts, R. Kelly tormented Savage with everything from physical abuse to frequent golden showers.

In response to their daughter’s scripted video, the parents spoke through their attorney. We’re saddened and disappointed to learn that Joycelyn Savage has said that she was not the person operating the Patreon account… we deeply desired to hear her story and in her own voice…”

Read the full statement below:

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A Complete Timeline of the Gabrielle Union-America’s Got Talent Saga

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In late November it was revealed that actress Gabrielle Union had been fired from her spot as a judge on the NBC show America’s Got Talent, but troubling reports of her exit have caused everyone from Janelle Monae to Howard Stern to weigh in on the controversy. Here’s a complete timeline of everything we know.

November 22, 2019 – Variety Magazine announces NBC will not renew Union’s contract

In addition to Union’s exit, it is revealed fellow judge Julianne Hough will also not be returning to the popular television show. Male judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, and Terry Crews all expected to remain on the roster.

AMERICA’S GOT TALENT — “Quarter Finals 1” Episode 1412 — Pictured: (l-r) Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

November 24, 2019 – News of ‘toxic culture’ at AGT hits the internet

Sources with direct knowledge of the culture at AGT describe the now-infamous joke that put Union at odds with show producers. During a guest appearance, comedian Jay Leno joked that a picture of Simon Cowell with his dogs reminded him of something “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.” The actress learned of the joke and explained to producers this joke would not be well-received particularly by Asian crewmembers and viewers. She reportedly urged producers and an unnamed NBC executive to scrap the offensive joke and report it to the network’s human resources department. The line was ultimately thrown out, but a formal report or complaint was never filed with HR.

SANTA MONICA, CA – JULY 11: Gabrielle Union attends Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports 2019 at Barker Hangar on July 11, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)

Further reports emerged describing Union and Hough receiving “excessive notes” on their appearance, with Union in particular getting regularly coached on her hairstyles being “too black.”

November 26, 2019 – Julianne Hough and NBC deny allegations

Julianne Hough released a statement claiming she “loved working with the cast, crew, and producers and the claims are not “accurate to her experience.” She goes on to say “I am happy continuing my working relationship with NBC.”

The network echoed her statement with a vehement denial of all allegations. 

November 28, 2019 – Celebrities show support for Union

As the news of NBC’s culture made its waves, celebrities voiced their support for Union. Stars like Janelle Monae, Ellen Pompeo, and democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro, among many, voiced their opinions on the matter in favor of the ousted actress.

December 1, 2019 – Jay Leno speaks out, NBC releases new statement 

The comedian at the center of the alleged racist joke spoke of nothing but his fondness of Union. “I love Gabrielle Union, she’s a great girl. I really enjoyed working with her.” When asked whether he uttered the joke on the NBC show, he refused to answer. 

For its part, NBC released a new statement vowing commitment to “ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees.” The network also stated it is working with the actress’ representatives to hear her concerns and address them as necessary.

Credit: Courtesy of NBC

December 2, 2019 – Howard Stern gives his two cents

To add fuel to Union’s fire, Stern made very choice comments on his show seemingly backing up Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough and trashing Simon Cowell. “He sets it up so that the men stay. No matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are… He constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks.”

Phew! That was a lot to keep up with and somehow we have a feeling this drama isn’t over yet. Only time will tell how steep the fallout will be. What do you think about all this? Give us your thoughts below.

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