LIZZO ON HOPE, JUSTICE, AND THE ELECTION. In our new world, where travel is no longer advisable and social distancing mandatory, it has been a bit hard to connect with Lizzo. She has been on vocal rest in her home in Los Angeles, while I’m mostly isolated in my house on the East Coast. When a window of time finally opens, she settles in before the Zoom camera dressed casually, her sweater falling off her shoulders. She looks even more youthful than her 32 years, with her hair in two buns, reminding me of another princess, the fictional Leia from Star Wars. Both women took on the world and won. For Lizzo, this was not necessarily in our national script; for a Black woman it is never a given. But Lizzo’s script is an updated one. As she sings in “Scuse Me”: “I don’t need a crown to know that I’m a queen.”
This is not the first time I have encountered the singer. On my birthday last year, my teenage daughter gave me tickets to her concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. She knew I would be ecstatic because every morning, as I pedaled away on my stationary bike, Lizzo’s music filled our home. It had been a long time since I first visited Radio City, on a class trip to see the Rockettes. In my memory, they were a line of leggy white women kicking the air—maybe a woman of color or two was included, but they are not who I remember. This time, the Black woman onstage would leave an imprint.
As my daughter and I made our way to our seats, we passed through one of the most diverse crowds I have ever seen at a concert: queer men, older than I am, holding hands; suburban-looking women with young girls; people who drove their SUVs through the tunnels or across the bridges, judging from the license plates of the cars blocking the streets outside. All came to see Lizzo—in gold lamé pants with THAT BITCH embroidered down each leg—probably for the same reason my daughter and I did. Her music was a part of our daily lexicon—a means of communicating a myriad of emotions at breakneck speed.