By Ed Wiley III, BET.com Staff Writer
Chuck Knipp, a white male homosexual comedian, performs in blackface as Shirley Q. Liquor
|Website||Shirley Q. Liquor|
(Top) In response to activist Jasmyne Cannick’s boycott of Knipp’s act, which led to the cancellation of a West Hollywood show, promoters posted Cannick’s e-mail address & telephone number (edited out for legal reasons) encouraging visitors “take a stand against Jasmyne”. (bottom) A protest in Hartford, Conn. led to a canceled show at gay club Chez Est. In its place, a free comedy show called “Laugh Him Out of Town” was presented at a local high school.
But this week, as Americans of all races and genders highlight the contributions that women have mad to the world, some activists are working to bring an end to an act they say is demeaning and just plain mean-spirited. It’s not as if African-American women, who already suffer from the double-whammy of being Black and female in a racist and sexist society, need an extra slap from Shirley Q. Liquor, says Jasmyne Cannick, a Los-Angeles-based community leader, who regularly challenges Knipp’s brand of humor.
“Imus may have called Black women ‘nappy-headed ho’s,’ but it’s Knipp who routinely tries to bring that image to life onstage as Shirley Q. Liquor,” says Cannick. “The hypocrisy is sickening. This has gone on for far too long under the radar.”
And, speaking of sickening, Cannick says that Knipp has lashed back in a manner she describes as hateful and downright misogynistic. Knipp posted on his personal Web site a smiling portrait of Cannick, superimposed over the naked body of a morbidly obese Black woman. She says that the image has caused her great distress, noting that now she comes up on pornographic Web sites when people Google her name. “Sometimes I wonder if people are recognizing me from that horrible image on the Internet,” an obviously distraught Cannick told BET.com.
These are tough times for Black women she said. Coming off Black History Month and flowing into Women’s History Month, it’s difficult to ignore just how easy it is for society to “make a fool of us,” she said. For example, she points to the way Knipp mocks the way some Black people talk with comments like “axe your mamma how she durrin”; laughs at the Black American holiday Kwanzaa; and sings about “Black-sounding” names in his music video “Who Is My Baby’s Daddy,” where Shirley Q. Liquor tries to recollect the names of her “chirrun – Cheeto, Orangello, Chlamydia, and Kmartina.”
But such antics often conceal deeper, more hateful attitudes about Black women, she said, pointing to Megan Williams, the 20-year-old Black woman who in early September was kidnapped by six Whites in West Virginia, and raped, tortured and forced to eat animal feces while being called the “N”-word. “All of these issues we have to contend with,” she said.
But Cannick isn’t allowing Knipp to wage his battle against Black women without fighting back. On Monday, she announced the launch of http://www.banshirleyqliquor.typepad.com/my_weblog/, where anybody else who’s sickened by Knipp can sign a petition, learn where his upcoming engagements are – so you can blow up the venues phone lines or protest in other ways – and engage gay and Black leaders to take up the Shirley Q. Liquor issue.
On Monday, Bev. Smith, who hosts the popular “The Bev Smith Show” on National Black talk radio’s American Urban Radio Network, dedicated her entire show to blasting Knipp. The network reaches an estimated 20 million listeners. “We believe that if Mr. Knipp is a true talent, he can find plenty of folks who look just like him to present in three-dimensional caricature,” Smith said in a statement. “If he really is funny, then he can find more than enough insulting and stereotypical elements of his own group, their background, and their culture, to mock. HE DOES NOT NEED OURS. As it is said, we have enough problems.
“Would Charles Knipp have done this to an Associated Press journalist? Would the head of Mike Wallace or Cokie Roberts or Jorge Ramos be used this way without response from their respective communities? We think not.”
Should Shirley Q. Liquor be banned, or is it freedom of speech? Click “Discuss Now” to post your comment. And read more of Cannick’s commentary here .