There are a few African-American entertainers who believe the key to mending the nation’s division is reaching out to a presidential administration co-signed by white supremacists. It’s a quixotic idea that hasn’t worked, and Chrisette Michele is the latest example.
The R&B singer accepted an invitation to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration ball, and after the swift backlash, Michele defended herself through an abstract statement saying she was “willing to be a bridge.” No one crossed that bridge: Spike Lee dropped her music from his Netflix series, ?uestlove said he’d “pay her NOT to perform,” and, most recently, her “family has disowned” her. Although she accepted the gig with “no hesitation,” Michele came to the stunning realization that Trump didn’t want to claim her either. She told Billboard that she didn’t get to shake his hand.
Originally I was supposed to perform directly after his first speech, and I had done that with Barack Obama before, so I was used to that kind of experience. And the woman who organized the event came and told me, “Now you’re going to go first and he’s going to go after you.” I looked her in the eye and said, “My family has disowned me. If you decide to Google me, you’ll see that America is writing about me in their newspapers. I’m the black poster child for discord right now, and he’s not going to shake my hand?” So no, I didn’t get to meet him.
Michele isn’t the only entertainer who got stiffed for wrongheaded efforts. Despite his newfound blondness, Kanye West wasn’t asked to perform at the inauguration. Tom Barrack, chairman of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, told CNN that he was looking for something “traditionally American.” There’s no word on if Michele got a Trump autograph for her trouble.