Lizzo's Thanksgiving was different from yours. Nearly all of America spent Thursday gathered around a feast with family, sleepily reaching for seconds, using desserts to distract from the bad football on TV, or vice versa.
Lizzo used the holiday to drop a new video, and some knowledge, on an unsuspecting public. The video for "My Skin," a single off the forthcoming Big GRRRL Small World album, is a departure from the fierce and fast-rapping Lizzo most might expect. It's simple, soft, quiet, emotional. Vulnerable. The video's presentation is as stripped-down as the song is musically: three women, a big, mostly empty room, no frills.
Lizzo sports a tank top and tights, and her oft-dyed-and-treated hair looks like she did little more than run her hands through it. The closest the styling comes to flashiness is a few shots of glitter-covered skin.
The song is an ode to self-respect and acceptance, with its chorus stating, "I can't wash it away, so you can't take it from me / Brown skin."
If the meaning weren't obvious enough, its release was accompanied by a long message that Lizzo posted to Facebook, and her homepage, trying to give context and insight into the black experience in American life. Lizzo writes about lying in bed not long before the video's release and listening to police sirens in north Minneapolis, only to later discover the sirens were responding to Jamar Clark, the 24-year-old black man who was shot by police November 15.
Lizzo, who restates the claim from witnesses that Clark was in handcuffs at the time of the shooting, says she realized fear, as instilled through a racist society, was the only explanation for why cops would feel the need to shoot an unarmed man.
"His blackness was seen as a lethal weapon and used against him," she wrote. "Logically unsound yet so ingrained in American history is the vilification of its’ black citizens. In studies conducted by researchers in the field of child development, time and time again 4 to 10 year-olds favored lighter skinned dolls and believed that darker skinned dolls were 'bad'."
Every ethnic minority is hit with racial stereotyping, Lizzo writes, but black Americans have been turned into the "pariah of the privileged." The song and video are also a statement against body-shaming, as Lizzo calls it a "summoning of bodies: all shapes, sizes and shades."
She writes: "My afro-hair, fat, muscle, bone and melanin are not a punchline — I was born in it, and I will proudly wake up in it everyday."
Big GRRRL Small World is due out December 11. If this song's any indication, Lizzo's got some pretty important things on her mind these days.
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