On the first of February, I awoke to quite the stir on Facebook. A popular local gay bar in my town, Eagle Portland, had booked a drag performance by Shirley Q. Liquor for March. The people of Portland were angry.
As a person who must be in the know, I started to Google Shirley Q. Liquor to see what I could find. I learned that Shirley Q. Liquor is played by Texas comedian Chuck Knipp, who describes his drag character as “an inarticulate black welfare mother with 19 children.” Her fictional kids children have names like Orangello and Chlamydia and she also drives a Cadillac. Stereotypes abound! As I kept watching Shirley Q. Liquor’s videos, the tropes continue. Shirley is overweight, loud, and—everyone’s favorite—sassy. To my eyes, his performances are incredibly racist.
As a Black woman, these stereotypes still hurt and in many spaces I feel I have to live them down. I have been called “an angry Black woman” while expressing opinions and I’ve been told, “Don’t name your kid one of those Black names.” On the flipside I get the ideal compliment, “You are so articulate!” It’s like living the live version of “Shit White Girls say to Black Girls.”