Janelle Monáe calls out DeSantis, Abbott for ‘erasure’
Janelle Monáe is calling out Republican Govs. Greg Abbott (Texas) and Ron DeSantis (Fla.), saying their policies are an “agenda for erasure.”
“These are governors who are saying in schools that teachers and students can’t even talk about the LGBTQI+ community,” the “Say Her Name” singer said in a Thursday interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN.
“You can’t talk about it in books. They don’t want us talking about critical race theory or race,” Monáe, 36, said.
DeSantis in March signed into law Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education legislation — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics. It restricts classroom instruction in primary schools related to sexual orientation or gender identity and prohibits educators of all grade levels from engaging in instruction on those topics in a way that’s not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for children.
In February, Abbott ordered state agencies in Texas to investigate as child abuse reports of transgender children receiving gender-affirming treatment.
The Lone Star State also came in first as the state with the largest number of book bans — which includes censoring titles focused on race, gender and sex — in the country, according to a report released last month by the nonprofit PEN America.
“These are real experiences for our ancestors, real experiences for us as complete human beings,” Monáe told Amanpour, “and erasure is happening right underneath our noses. And it’s being done through lawmaking.”
Monáe was speaking in promotion of her dystopian future book “The Memory Library,” which she said “deals with this totalitarian society literally taking people’s memories away from them, and giving them new identities so that they can manipulate and control them.”
“But these protagonists, who are mostly queer women, nonbinary folks, they fight back.”
“Our memories define the quality of our lives, and I think that when you strip somebody’s memory, you strip their identity,” the “Hidden Figures” actor added. “You strip them as human beings.”
Monáe, who recently came out as nonbinary and uses both her/she and they/them pronouns, recalled her Kansas upbringing with working-class parents.
“In my heart and in my spirit I always want to protect marginalized, working-class folks. Being queer, being nonbinary myself, imagine if I didn’t have my platform,” she said.
“Imagine if I wasn’t making my own money to support myself and I was living in a family that rejected me, or living in a community or somewhere that did not accept me for who I was,” Monáe continued.
“So my natural instinct has always been to stand up to bullies and protect the ones who are trying to just live and love, and in peace and in their authentic selves.”
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