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Lizzo triumphs in Vogue: ‘If someone like you hasn’t done it yet— BE THE FIRST’

Lizzo performs in style.
Musician Lizzo celebrates being the first big, Black woman to cover Vogue magazine.
(Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)

Grammy winner Lizzo triumphed Thursday in being the first big, Black woman to be on the cover of Vogue — a good-as-hell career highlight that came just a day after she lamented the Kentucky grand jury decision not to charge any officers in the death of Breonna Taylor.

“I am the first big black woman on the cover of @voguemagazine. The first black anything feels overdue. But our time has come. To all my black girls, if someone like you hasn’t done it yet— BE THE FIRST,” she wrote Thursday of the fashion bible’s October cover.

The directive seemed to be a rebound from her grief Wednesday, illustrating the exhausting resilience often expected of Black women in the framework of systemic racism.

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“This is the blackest and brownest @voguemagazine ever - and I have to brag,” the 32-year-old musician added.

Lizzo’s Instagram account on Wednesday and Thursday was a mixed bag of emotions between her striking Vogue spread shot by Hype Williams and her somber Instagram stories expressing grief over the Taylor decision.

“I’m so disappointed and unfortunately not surprised in the way none of the officers have been charged with the murder of Breonna Taylor,” the “Truth Hurts” singer said Wednesday in candid videos on her stories.

“Take everything out, take all the details out and tell somebody that this man [Officer Myles Cosgrove] broke into a woman’s home and shot her to death while she was sleeping. Oh, and he wasn’t charged for murder. Does that sound fair to you? It doesn’t sound fair to me. No justice, no peace.”

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Common, Kerry Washington, George Clooney, Viola Davis and others expressed anger and disbelief over Wednesday’s grand jury decision in Breonna Taylor’s case.

Lizzo joined the droves of celebrities and athletes who decried the Louisville grand-jury decision to charge ex-Louisville Metro Police Department detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment for shooting into neighboring apartments in connection to the March 13 police raid of Taylor’s home. The decision provoked protests in Kentucky and here in Los Angeles.

The body-positive singer and flutist shared a portrait of Taylor on her Instagram account Wednesday, invoking fans to “SAY HER NAME. Breonna Taylor.” She also urged followers to donate to the Louisville community bail fund.

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Though her Vogue interview was conducted well before Wednesday’s decision, it came amid the national reckoning over race and injustice that has consumed the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic and since the death of George Floyd.

In the interview, Lizzo — an artist who has weaponized her uniqueness — still talked about Taylor and what it means to be a Black woman in the U.S. with contributor Claudia Rankine. The discussion ranged from body image, to music, to Aretha Franklin, to her time living in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed. She touched on her unlikely “crossover appeal” and success and her thoughts of having Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) be the first Black, female U.S. vice president if Democrat Joe Biden prevails in the November presidential election.

The Times interviewed nearly two dozen Black entertainment industry voices, spanning directors, producers, writers, designers, agents and executives. They discussed racism in Hollywood, what needs to change and their frustration with years of talk and little action by powerful companies.

“Having a Black woman as vice president would be great,” Lizzo told the magazine, “because I’m just always rooting for Black people. But I want actual change to happen … in the laws. And not just on the outside, you know? Not a temporary fix to a deep-rooted, systemic issue.”

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She added: “A lot of times I feel like we get distracted by the veneer of things. If things appear to be better, but they’re not actually better, we lose our sense of protest,” she said, making sure to mention Taylor, Sandra Bland and the women who often get dropped from the conversation.

“We need to talk about the women.”

Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, said that she just wants to encourage people to register to vote, especially upset people “who have power.”

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“There’s a lot of voter suppression in Black communities. But there’s a lot of angry white kids now. And I’m like, ‘Yo, register to vote. Go out. You won’t get suppressed if you try to go to your ballot box.’ You know?” she told the magazine.

“I think it’s important to remind people of what they can do. My job isn’t to tell you how to vote. But my job is hopefully to inspire you to vote … to activate you, so that you can take your protest to the ballot box.”


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