Commentary: Gregory Clay — Lizzo’s sartorial disgrace of history


Lizzo, hardcore rapper and reality TV star, recently played flute on stage during her concert tour called “Special” at Washington’s Capital One Arena.

But this was no ordinary musical instrument. That’s James Madison’s crystal flute, which was gifted to the fourth president. Lizzo played while wearing only a flashy, sequined bodysuit — replete with a thong back.

Add some twerking and foul language.

It didn’t matter that Lizzo is a classically trained flutist. Or that officials of the Library of Congress presented the crystal flute to Lizzo on stage. Conservatives were furious. And they had a right to be.

The culture war scene is simple: Lizzo, a hefty Black woman, played Madison’s crystal flute in her lingerie in public while twerking, and anyone who disagrees with that is an automatic racist. That’s the liberal message.

As a commenter posted on Instagram, “Why is this not considered pornography?”

Bingo. No sartorial splendor here.

Another Instagram responder, “Grotesque is now beautiful.”

Never mind the concert audience applauded Lizzo. Why the cheers in the first place?

Jenna Ellis, a senior adviser to Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, noticed Lizzo, wearing a traditional jeans-and-sneakers outfit during a casual performance in the Library of Congress’ Great Hall, tweeted, ”If this (fully clothed) performance had occurred at Lizzo’s concert, then bravo. This was quite lovely — no twerking.’’

The only positive out of this “soft pornography” is that Lizzo single-handedly  granted major publicity to a former president’s 200-year-old crystal flute. Let’s be honest; the Library of Congress wouldn’t ordinarily attract this much attention. Even though an X-rating must be attached.

By the way, the Library of Congress posted on its Twitter account, “You didn’t think @lizzobeeating played that antique flute on stage without practicing first, did you? She visited the Library and played several of the flutes in our collection, which is the largest in the world. #LizzoAtLOC”

Lizzo probably was enough to make Madison, the Father of the Constitution, bristle at “the second-rate strip show,” as one commenter described it.

Well, perhaps it was a show of body positivity for plus-size women as Lizzo tries to rally support for fuller-figured types. However, her actions are also self-serving in that Lizzo is promoting her new clothing line called “Yitty,” which is basically nothing but one-piece, leggy lingerie for the outdoors.

“I was insulted by her behavior; she should make sure there are no children under the age of 18 at her concerts if she’s going to perform and dress that way,” said DeeDee Stanish, 64, of Auburndale, Flordia, and a staunch Democrat.

Similarly, rapper Kanye West, at a fashion show in Paris, created a stir — especially among Black folk — when he wore a T-shirt with the inscription “White Lives Matter.  And West’s exhibit wasn’t even X-rated. But he’ll be accused of reverse racism, unlike Lizzo.

The truth of the matter is white lives do matter, regardless of what the troubled Black Lives Matter movement proclaims. Why listen to the BLM, which has been embroiled in leaders resigning over million-dollar homes, internal lawsuits and money-grabbers? 

Remember, those donations add up, especially in the post-George Floyd police murder era.

As for the Flute Police, we hear that Lizzo has been invited to perform — at a time of her choosing  — at the James Madison estate in Orange, Virginia, about 85 miles southwest of Washington. The Montpelier estate serves as a museum, which features a stately main house, plus slave quarters (now sanitizingly called a “memorial to the Enslaved Community”), gift shops and bucolic grounds.

Montpelier tweeted, “@lizzo you’ve played the #CrystalFlute, now come visit  #JamesMadison’s home!” 

And don’t forget to bring your clothes  — plus no twerking.

Gregory Clay is a Washington columnist and former assistant sports editor for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. He wrote this for


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