Chrisette Michele saw the demise of her career when she decided to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration. Making the daring decision led to backlash from the black community. The disapproval from within her community wouldn’t persuade her to bow out, but it did convince another black singer to do so. The star of Broadway’s “Dreamgirls,” Jennifer Holiday pulled out of Trump’s inauguration following the reception from the black community and LGBT community. Holiday said she was called the N-word and received death threats. In going through with performing at the inaugural ball, Michele however was blackballed.
Michele’s decision had not only affected her career, but her family. Her family members—some of whom are activists, including former Black Panthers—have since disowned her. “I’ll say that the backlash, I did personally feel, came from members of my extended family who decided that they didn’t want to speak to me anymore or support my family in supporting me,” she said. In the aftermath, the R&B singer revealed she had faced a miscarriage and suicidal thoughts in a series of posts on Instagram. “When a community sticks its middle finger up at you and completely forgets everything you’ve ever done, you’re worthless… You’ve just spent ten years kicking your own ass to be there for everyone and suddenly no one is there for you? I don’t need to be here…. And when you’ve drank so much you can’t see clearly. And when your speech is so slurred you just stop speaking. You hope you don’t wake up,” she wrote. Michele believed the pressure connected to participating in Trump’s inauguration was a factor of her miscarriage. “The stress of Trump becoming the president, me becoming so associated with someone I don’t support, and then the stress of the hatred online and then the stress of me wondering if I ever wanted to sing again, I think that had a lot to do with the stress on my body,” she said on The Breakfast Club. In addition, Michele had been dropped from her record label.
What the public perceived was a black woman in aid of Donald Trump by choosing to perform at his inauguration. While her decision was later regretted, Michele made clear that she didn’t vote for Trump and was appalled by his win. With a sentiment like Jennifer Holiday’s, her motive was to send a message of hope to a fractured nation. “People didn’t feel hopeful from that moment,” Michele said. “They didn’t feel represented in that moment. They felt misrepresented. They felt further misunderstood, and they felt the person they were depending on to speak on their behalf just betrayed them.” Michele’s heart was in the right place, but she wasn’t at the right platform for her message to be conveyed. Knowing the struggles she suffered, Chrisette Michele should be forgiven. A unique voice like hers is missing in R&B.