Broken Wakanda Relations
It was all a dream...Biggie voice, that's all I could think this weekend when I awoke to a post about Luvvie Ajayi, cousin in my head being dragged on twitter. I was very, very, very busy Friday feeding 99 football players after working half a day and doing other football Mom stuff until 2 AM but I didn't think I'd missed something so significant as this. While I was being Mom and paying very little attention to social media (let's face it, I'm lucky to get to Twitter once a month anymore), Luvvie resurrected Tevin Campbell enough for black Twitter to drag her for something she didn't even say.
Y'all, the Queen of Soul's body hadn't even gone cold yet before folks were debating on who should do her tributes in upcoming award shows and who should play her in a movie. I'm sensitive to all things surrounding death after experiencing one very close to home and after seeing people's insensitivity around it so I steered clear of the obligatory facebook RIP statuses and the IG posts on the subject. In the last year, I learned not to rush to these things because the last thing a family member wants to see while they're coming to grips with their loved one transitioning mere hours before is your lengthy tribute to their loved one. Because we live in a culture where no one rereads sentences more than once to let the meaning sink in before writing an entire think piece on the one sentence out of the whole article, I'll state that again and more plainly. It's human nature to want to share your experience with someone who has transitioned and by all means do, just know that the family is in a fog and won't appreciate it fully till months later when the fog clears. I can only imagine what Ms. Franklin's family thought while people went on and on about this. I'm sure they would have rather liked to hear about Ms. Franklin's influence in music instead of the race to choosing who would bring the perfect tribute. There was even a shooting over an argument over who would play her in a movie. Yeah imagine the family already mourning and now have to think about violence as well. Like I said, I'm very sensitive to this now.
So Luvvie made her own tribute list and asked her twitter folks who they'd add. Someone suggested Tevin Campbell to which Luvvie tweeted: "Someone suggested Tevin Campbell to sing at Aretha's tribute. Under what rock did they pull that name from?" and Black Twitter's floodgates opened. I have analyzed this tweet every which way and I'm still scratching my head as to why it caused such a shit storm that included canceling Luvvie altogether. Up until this tweet, I can't tell you the last time I heard about Tevin Campbell being spoken about in the best light. Y'all made a gif of his wall slide and ran with it. He appeared on some show to perform and y'all dragged him. Y'all stay talking about who is not relevant and I could have sworn that you had him at the top of the list until this tweet. So I too would have loved the Tevin suggestion but would have been surprised that he was on the list based on y'alls behavior towards him the last 20 years.
Maybe it was how fresh the grief over Aretha was, or maybe it was leftovers from the Shaderoom's mercury in retrograde posts from a few days prior where everyone seemed to be coming for everyone that had black twitter ready to embrace one of their childhood favorites, but whatever it was Luvvie became public enemy number one within minutes. Suddenly, she had to be reminded that Tevin had an unmatched vocal ability and she needed to stay in her place. Did she say he couldn't sing? Suddenly she wasn't black enough and was appropriating African-American culture and getting rich from it. It got ugly quick and her 2014 tweet where she said as a young girl she thought all black people had maids and drivers like she did was presented as exhibit A to prove her lack of African-American knowledge.
I listen to both Luvvie's podcasts, Rants & Randomness and Jesus & Jollof so I know that her 2014 was taken out of context. African-American history was not taught in Africa, Everything we know about it, we learned in America once we got here. African history is not taught in America either and what African-Americans know about it have learned on their own. Luvvie cannot be faulted for that. Luvvie being told to stay in place quickly became staying African. The commentary was like watching 45 donning a red MAGA hat and watching people's transformation right before your eyes. Folks you were just doing the "Kiki do you love me" challenge with suddenly had venom in their eyes and it was an us versus them situation.
Wasn't it just February and we were all in Wakanda loving each other? Weren't we just loving this African renaissance in the entertainment world seeing all this African magic all over our screens? Weren't we all just plotting on how we too could have our own West African Voltron like Luvvie Ajayi, Yvonne Orji, Bozoma St. John and the others in the group have? Seeing African people on mainstream magazine covers and in popular movies and TV shows was not always the case and it's been a magical thing to witness. The reactions Luvvie's tweet brought took it back to the less magical times of the 90's when we were still questioned daily about our blackness. The MAGA folks aren't hiding behind anything anymore, they're out here calling cops over nothing and we know this. I wish folks that still had issues with Africans would be out in the open too and let us know up front. Don't have us looking at you sideways when it all comes to the surface.
Tevin is back on people's minds and he gets to smell his flowers. Thank you Luvvie for that. We might even see him on Queen Sugar. I'm happy for him. This will blow over, it probably already has. It's been 5 days and Twitter is on to the next slaughter and cancelation. Luvvie will be back to making us laugh with her recaps and this will be swept under the rug until the next time. It's this raised eyebrow and bitter taste in my mouth I'll just have to work on. One day it won't just be a dream and these Wakanda relations will be healed fully, hope I'm alive to see it.