As a person who must be in the know, I started to Google Shirley Q. Liquor to see what I could find. I learned that Shirley Q. Liquor is played by Texas comedian Chuck Knipp, who describes his drag character as "an inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children." Her fictional kids children have names like Orangello and Chlamydia and she also drives a Cadillac. Stereotypes abound! As I kept watching Shirley Q. Liquor's videos, the tropes continue. Shirley is overweight, loud, and—everyone's favorite—sassy. To my eyes, his performances are incredibly racist.
As a Black woman, these stereotypes still hurt and in many spaces I feel I have to live them down. I have been called "an angry Black woman" while expressing opinions and I've been told, "Don't name your kid one of those Black names." On the flipside I get the ideal compliment, "You are so articulate!" It's like living the live version of "Shit White Girls say to Black Girls."
These things change the way I behave, the people I trust, and the ways I express myself. I want to be seen as whole person. And I feel thrown back by performers like Shirley Q. Liquor. Was I surprised there was a performer out in the world who plays on Black stereotypes for laughs? No. Was I surprised that there is a White man who performs in blackface, calls it drag, and is able to book shows at gay bars? Yes.
Full disclosure: I have had misgivings about Slutwalk from day one. "Slut" has never been a term used against me. Though the idea of reclaiming the word seems to resonate with many young, white heterosexual women, it is not clear to me that it's something that can unify all women. It felt alienating and exclusionary to me from the start.
I hate to overload you with Beyoncé news, but just after I critiqued the Daily Mail op-ed accusing her of looking too white, news broke that Beyoncé donned blackface and pseudo African garb for French glossy L'Officiel. Why did Bey make this enormous misstep? According to reports, she participated in the African-themed photo shoot to pay tribute to Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.