Dolly Parton on Black Lives Matter: "Do We Think Our Little White Asses Are the Only Ones That Matter?"
Dolly Parton is one of the only reliable things about this life.
In a recent interview with Billboard, the eternally iconic Dolly Parton officially declared her support for Black Lives Matter, called out Christian hypocrisy, and provided incontrovertible evidence that she deserves to have her own statue in Tennessee.
Parton, a beloved figure for more than half a century now, was recently the subject of an online petition aiming to replace a Nashville statue of KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest with a visage of Parton.
"Aside from her beautiful music, which has touched the hearts and lives of millions of Americans, Dolly Parton's philanthropic heart has unquestionably changed the world for the better," the petition reads. "From the Dollywood foundation that has provided books and scholarships to millions of American children, to the millions of dollars she has donated to dozens of organizations such as the Red Cross and COVID-19 research centers, Dolly Parton has given more to this country and this state than those confederate officers could ever have hoped to take away. Let's replace the statues of men who sought to tear this country apart with a monument to the woman who has worked her entire life to bring us closer together."
Now, Parton herself is making waves online for her blunt declaration of support for Black Lives Matter. "I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen," she said in the interview regarding this summer's Black Lives Matter protests. "And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little whites a**** are the only ones that matter? No!" she said.
While the statue replacement petition has not yet succeeded in its efforts (there's still hope, people), Parton's unflinching support for Black Lives Matter (and her willingness to poke fun at certain white people's self-centered bullsh*t) yet again proves why she deserves the world.
From Appalachia to Brooklyn to TwinsTheNewTrend, Dolly Parton Remains the One Thing We Can All Count On
Parton is one of those people who is never not having "a moment." The Billboard interview paints her as a benevolent queen-like figure, following her as she moves from her Dollywood theme park to her multiple other business ventures–all while making decisions about her employees' safety amidst COVID-19, raising money, and offering comfort to her many fans.
For decades, Parton has maintained a starring role in music, in business, and in the hearts of millions, crossing genre and medium and somehow making everyone feel at home. "How can she appeal to so many different kinds of people who we're told should really hate each other, but they all agree on her? That's really the big question that we tried to figure out," says Jad Abumrad, host of the podcast Dolly Parton's America. "We talked to these fervent Dolly fans, from Appalachian queer kids to Brooklyn hipsters to [conservative] people in the South. Everyone sees her as theirs."
Dolly Parton is on a list of people who have never let me down. It’s a small list.— Amy Remeikis (@Amy Remeikis)1597396935.0
Perhaps this is, in part, thanks to her roots. Parton was born in a one-room cabin in Tennessee, without heat or showers; her siblings washed in a nearby river. She's said that her childhood gave her perspective on what's really important. "No matter how much money I make," she once said to People, "I'll always count my blessings quicker and more often than I count my money."
She lost her brother as a child and dealt with other tragedies, but she poured her emotions into music, beginning her songwriting career at the age of seven. The day after she graduated high school, she boarded a bus to Nashville and started her country music career. Despite labels' attempts to pigeonhole her into pop, she broke through with the country song "Dumb Blonde."
Dolly Parton - Dumb Blonde (1967) www.youtube.com
A stint on the Peter Wagoner show launched Parton's career. After seven years, she broke off her partnership with Wagoner to strike out on a solo journey (Her "breakup" with Wagoner inspired the song "I Will Always Love You," which she wrote on the same day she wrote "Jolene.")
Parton's life has been full of twists and turns. She considered having children but never had any—though she's a spiritual mother to many. She considered suicide after having an "emotional affair" during a marriage that sent her into a deep depression. She dealt with sexism and the "dumb blonde" stereotype for many years. Though she was initially apolitical, she announced her support for gay rights in the 90s and received death threats from the KKK after showing widespread support for the LGBTQ+ community. She has been through many lives' worth of love and loss, all of which she pours into her music.
Parton once again recently proved her universal appeal when her hit single "Jolene" went viral after it was the subject of a video by teenage twins Fred and Tim Williams, who run the reaction channel "TwinsTheNewTrend."
The twins' YouTube channel is comprised of reaction videos, which show the Williams brothers experiencing songs by everyone from Phil Collins to Evanescence for the first time. In the "Jolene" video, entitled "FIRST TIME hearing Dolly Parton - Jolene," the twins nod their heads and react to the song's intense opening guitar riff and to Parton's warbling vocals. They ultimately find themselves stunned by the strength of the song's narrative and the power of Parton's voice.
After the video went viral, the song started charting and trending.
FIRST TIME HEARING Dolly Parton - Jolene REACTION www.youtube.com
This isn't the first time that Parton has appeared as a source of solace and entertainment during COVID-19. During the pandemic, Parton donated one million dollars to Vanderbilt University Medical Center's COVID-19 research fund and was seen reading bedtime stories to children over Zoom.
She also released a heartwarming song called "When Life Is Good Again," and now she's lending her voice to the fight for justice.
Dolly Parton - When Life Is Good Again (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
Showing Up for Racial Justice: Dolly Parton Says Black Lives Matter
Though she was apolitical for a long time, Parton has grown over the years, and she's been sensitive to racial issues since before this summer's racial justice movement ignited. In 2018, she changed the name of her Dixie Stampede dinner attraction to Dolly Parton's Stampede—a full two years before the Dixie Chicks would change their name to the Chicks.
"There's such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that. When they said 'Dixie' was an offensive word, I thought, 'Well, I don't want to offend anybody. This is a business. We'll just call it The Stampede,'" Parton said in the interview. "As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don't be a dumb*ss. That's where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose."
Parton's no-nonsense explanation of the name change and her no-nonsense support of Black Lives Matter are inspiring—and refreshingly logical, to say the least. Too often, debates around Black Lives Matter and racially insensitive terms turn into full-fledged and antagonizing arguments about freedom, free speech, cancel culture, and the death of America.
But really, changing racially insensitive words and showing support for a human rights movement are rather harmless, easy things to do. They're also the right things to do.
Me: don’t put anyone on a pedestal, no one is perfect and everyone will let you down. Also me: if you don’t worsh… https://t.co/p7F8wgaQ19— 🎃Amandaaaahhh Die-bert🔪 (@🎃Amandaaaahhh Die-bert🔪)1597370265.0
Supporting a group of people's right to be safe and live without fear—and honoring requests to erase the remnants of a genocidal Confederacy—are, simply put, the decent things to do. Parton reminds us of this without centering herself or framing herself as a hero, which is just how it should be.
Surely tearful All Lives Matter folks will take issue with Parton's comments—most of them knowing full well that Black Lives Matter doesn't mean that white lives don't matter—but still testing the waters of how racist they can be under the guise of "unity."
Well, perhaps some people still don't understand the meaning of Black Lives Matter. But if anyone can get the point of BLM through white America's heads, it's probably Dolly Parton, who is somehow still a patron saint of every side of the political spectrum.
Dolly said it best: Don't be a dumba*s. Just let people do what they want to do and be who they want to be as long as they're not hurting anyone.
In the Billboard interview, Parton also had some choice words for the "good Christian" community that comprises so much of All Lives Matter's support base. "First of all, I'm not a judgmental person. I do believe we all have a right to be exactly who we are, and it is not my place to judge," she said. "All these good Christian people that are supposed to be such good Christian people, the last thing we're supposed to do is to judge one another. God is the judge, not us. I just try to be myself. I try to let everybody else be themselves."
Let God judge and mind your own business; that's gospel for our times.
A Past and Future Queen: Should Dolly Parton Run For President?
As for the next steps in her career, Parton feels she's just beginning. "I honestly feel like I'm just getting started. I know that sounds crazy but I really feel like I might have a big music career, record career. Who knows?" she said.
Perhaps at this point Parton should consider running for office—certainly she seems ideally poised to heal America's divides. After all, her working-class background in the hills of Appalachia and her self-made career give her points in the life-story area. Her experience in running a variety of massive and successful businesses makes her more qualified for any position of power than Donald Trump could ever hope to be. The fact that she wrote "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You" in one day means that no honor could be high enough for her genius.
Finally, her ability to communicate with the youths through our chosen language—memes—seems like a sure path to victory. Here at Popdust, we'll never forget the time she liked our tweet featuring our office mascot, Fred, in his version of the Dolly Parton challenge.
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