Lizzo, Telling It Like It Is
A successful mainstream musician explains the importance of getting involved with Black Lives Matter in an inspirational TikTok video.
Lizzo is an American musician, originally from Detroit, Michigan. Lizzo's success was so swift that she was named Time Magazine's "Entertainer of the Year" in 2019 and her album " Cuz I Love You" made number four on the Billboard 200 list of most popular music in the United States. After her flute performance at the 2019 BET Awards, Lizzo received a standing ovation from the crowd, which included popular singer Rihanna. Lizzo's song "Good As Hell" became very popular last year, climbing up the charts in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Lizzo is also a well-know exemplar of body positivity. In a Vice interview she said, " You can wake up and change many things about your appearance, but the inevitability of waking up in your own skin what unifies us."
Lizzo's TikTok video addresses the bewilderment of some White people concerning the continued police brutality towards unarmed, innocent Black citizens. Lizzo points out the similarity between the six-pointed badge of the "Runaway Slave Patrol" officers, who were the local law-enforcement of the 1860's, and the modern sheriff's badge. Lizzo explains that our police system had some extremely racist foundations. The Runaway Slave Patrol officers were hired by private individuals to hunt and kill Black people who had escaped from enslavement. In her article, " The racist roots of American policing: From slave patrols to traffic stops," Hasset-Walker writes, "Members of slave patrols could forcefully enter anyone's home, regardless of their race or ethnicity, based on suspicions that they were sheltering people who had escaped bondage." Mainly, the slave patrols targeted Black people, but anyone who colluded with or helped escaped slaves was also in danger from law-enforcement. Today, anyone taking part in contemporary Black Lives Matters protests is taking the risk of being violently mistreated by the police.
In a blog post on the National Law Enforcement Museum website, Chelsea Hansen writes, " Typically, slave patrol routines included enforcing curfews, checking travelers for a permission pass, catching those assembling without permission, and preventing any form of organized resistance."
The point that Lizzo is making in her TikTok video is that making is that law-enforcement has historically targeted African-American people. To this day, even popular celebrities like Lizzo are still treated like criminals by private citizens who rely on threats of contacting law enforcement to terrorize peaceful African-American individuals. Lizzo and her friends were recently staying in a vacation rental. The landlord recorded her twerking and viewed Instagram footage of Lizzo and her six Black female friends. He then claimed that he was afraid that the young vacationing women might hurt him. He used this as an excuse to kick the young women out of their vacation rental three days early. This is a perfect example of the oppression that continues to be inflicted on Black people by individuals who claim to feel threatened by them.
The first slave patrols were started in South Carolina in 1704 and continued well into the nineteenth century. They had various roles, including chasing down escaped slaves and taking them back to slaveowners, devising methods of organized terror to discourage enslaved people from attempting to escape, and beating slaves that they deemed criminal. With the abolition of slavery in 1865, the slave patrols were officially ended. During Reconstruction, the period after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan was known to commit acts of terrorism that closely resembled the behavior of the formerly legal slave patrols.
Lizzo's TikTok video addresses the confusion and horror that is experienced by her White friends who had been previously ignorant of parallels between the history of law-enforcement, early slave-patrols, and senseless violence committed by the Ku Klux Klan. Lizzo has a large social media following due to her success in the music industry. In 2019, Lizzo's song " Good as Hell" was a persistent hit on the radio at all hours of the day. The song is inspiring to young people experiencing the heartbreak of being dumped and encourages a positive, self-confident mentality of that draws on self-love as a source of strength. Lizzo's music is difficult to dislike, as the energy that her music conveys is contagious and addictive. Lizzo's TikTok video is a plea for more White allies of the Black Lives Matter movement to educate themselves in United States history, emphasizing the importance of becoming more active in supporting BLM.
1. Hansen Chelsea. “Slave Patrols: An Early Form of American Policing.” National Law Enforcement Museum, 3 June 2020, lawenforcementmuseum.org/2019/07/10/slave-patrols-an-early-form-of-american-policing/.
2. Hassett-Walker, Connie. “The Racist Roots of American Policing: From Slave Patrols to Traffic Stops.” The Conversation, 8 June 2020, theconversation.com/the-racist-roots-of-american-policing-from-slave-patrols-to-traffic-stops-112816.
3. “Lizzo.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 25 Aug. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzo.
4. Ritschel, Chelsea. “Lizzo Says She Was Kicked out of Vacation Rental Three Days Early.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 7 July 2020, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/lizzo-ig-vacation-rental-discrimination-instagram-twerk-a9606071.html.