Sheila Qualls: Multimillionaire Lizzo sends the wrong message to young black Americans

What if she told children to work hard, like she did, so they have a chance at achieving their dreams, too? 

Lizzo performs at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday night. (MTV/YouTube)

I don’t know who Lizzo is, or at least I didn’t until yesterday. She’s sort of a hometown girl. She wasn’t born and bred, but she started her music career in Minneapolis. In her MTV awards speech Sunday night, she encouraged her fans (and she has lots of them) to “vote to change some of these laws that are oppressing us.” “Us” meaning black people.

Lizzo is black. She’s a multimillionaire. She raps. She sings. She has a clothing line, a reality TV series, and was named Time Magazine’s 2019 “Entertainer of the Year.”

Lizzo was a voice actor in the animated film “Ugly Dolls” and appeared in the crime comedy drama “Hustlers.” She’s the host of the Amazon Prime Video reality TV series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrrsl” (which earned her a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award), has won three Grammys, a Billboard Music Award, a BET award and two Soul Train Music Awards.

Yet she stood before America and cried “oppression,” which is code for racism.

“Your votes means everything to me, it means everything to making a change in this country,” she said in her acceptance speech. “So remember, when you’re voting for your favorite artist, vote to change some of these law that are oppressing us.” Wait … what?

Which oppressive laws or policies is she talking about?

She didn’t specifically list any of the “oppressive” laws we should change. (Hmmm … I wonder why.) Is she talking about the laws that outlaw discrimination and segregation so a black woman who was born into ordinary circumstances can become a multimillionaire? Or maybe she’s talking about the policies that allow black kids to get into colleges with fewer points on their SAT than white kids.

Lizzo’s been duped like many other black (and white) Americans into thinking she’s got a reason to be angry, that she’s somehow being held down by the system. If her claim of “oppression” doesn’t expose the irony of this manufactured crisis of racism, I don’t know what will. She charters private jets. She’s rich. She’s famous. She’s privileged. I suppose if it weren’t for our oppressive laws, she might be a multibillionaire instead of just a millionaire.

She didn’t grow up in the Jim Crow South like my father. She’s never had to drink from a “colored” water fountain or use a “colored” restroom. She was never forced to sit in the “colored” section in the back of the bus. She was never forced to perform on the Chitlin’ Circuit, like Ray Charles or Tina Turner, because she was forbidden from performing in white establishments. The Chitlin’ Circuit was a group of black-owned nightclubs and juke joints for black performers who weren’t allowed to perform at white venues during the Jim Crow era. Lizzo performs any place she wants.

Instead of crying “oppression,” what if she encouraged black children to think like victors instead of victims? What if she said, “A victim mentality will cripple you.” What if she told children to work hard, like she did, so they have a chance at achieving their dreams, too?

But she takes the posture of another rich progressive who looks foolish by claiming “oppression” while accepting an MTV award wearing a designer gown. She wore not one but three different designer outfits Sunday night: one for the red carpet, one for her opening performance, and another to accept her award.

As Angelo Isidorou tweeted, “Nothing screams oppression like being given an idol made out of precious metals and lauded in front of millions. It’s a hard knock life.”

Her focus is on the past. Not the present. She perpetuates the myth that disparities between blacks and whites are because of racism. The disparities we see in the black community are not racial. Blaming the problems in our community on anything other than race might call attention to failed policies and politicians who’ve gotten wealthy at the expense of those they’re supposed to serve.

The American black family was devastated by the introduction of social welfare programs to our communities in the 1960s. Social welfare led to the decline of the two-parent black family, which is on the verge of extinction. Lizzo is too young to remember when most black children were born into two-parent families (like she was), and she obviously didn’t learn about that in history class. She is too young to remember a black culture that was rooted in faith, family, and education.

People in circumstances like Lizzo’s who claim oppression insult people who lived through true racism and sanctioned segregation. They insult people who are victims of true racism today.

She could use her platform to encourage positive change. Instead, she seems content on being a member of the woke club who will cry racism no matter how good they have it.


Sheila Qualls

Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.