On Kim Burrell and The Era of Shade: You’re Not Honest, You’re Miserable

Whew. March was a long year. Between wedding planning, consulting writing clients, working on my own projects and having no self-control when it comes to binge-watching Netflix series——life has been a lot. But I’m still here. And so are you. So, let’s get into it, shall we?


Recently, I came across a video of gospel legend (?), Kim Burrell, standing in someone’s pulpit being less than Godly. When the video first began she seemed to be sowing seeds of positivity into another woman, singer Leandria Johnson, and I thought, “well…this is nice”—-but no. She then goes into being a casting director for the forthcoming Aretha biopic saying “if they really want to do an Aretha movie…they should call you…I like Fantasia but she ain’t no Leandria Johnson”. The woman recording the video backs up this unnecessarily catty moment with squeals of agreement and Kim continues with “why y’all don’t like to tell the truth?”. And that is when my eyes rolled out of my skull, down the stairs and out of my front door.

(I’d also like to interject by saying Fantasia is not slated to play Aretha Franklin in the film…so…Kim is not only rude but loud and wrong…mmmm….a delicious combination.)

I don’t know if it’s the rise of reality TV stars who rely on being their worst selves to bring in views, the filter down of drag culture into our everyday dialogue, the advent of social media where people can hide behind screens while being disgusting towards one another or just the way the cookie is crumbling—-but y’all have gotten…ugly. Under the guise of “honesty”, a lot of y’all are showing yourselves to be messy in ways that are neither attractive nor endearing—-and least of all, helpful. In the age of oversharing, I get that everyone is entitled to having their own opinions but when did it become necessary to share all of them? Everything does not need to be said.

Wait, let me repeat that: EVERYTHING DOES NOT NEED TO BE SAID.

What’s extremely odd to see is the era of shade somehow living alongside this era of “self-love” and “good vibes”. How, sis? How are you sage-ing your living room while listening to meditative sounds but can’t seem to figure out the age old adage of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all”. How are you leading women’s empowerment workshops but can’t be trusted to have a single encouraging word to say about someone unless there’s something in it for you? How are you drinking green juice, doing a 10-step skincare routine and can’t root out what’s inside of you that won’t allow you to pass up an opportunity to spill the “tea” on the lives of others? How are you “building a brand” but can’t figure out how to constructively disagree with someone without dragging them? How are you a leader in the church but can’t lift up one woman without verbally bashing another? Make it make sense.

I can comprehend wit and I respect the straight shooters but some of y’all have never been beat up for talking crazy to people…and it shows. Watching this clip of Kim, I thought of Fantasia. Maybe she saw it, laughed and went about her day. But maybe, just maybe, it was a bad day for her and somehow she was dragged into something that has nothing to do with her. And, because we all know how the internet works, she’s now going to be tagged in comments agreeing or disagreeing all day. And for what? For WHAT? For a fully grown woman to feel better about herself because she got some people to agree with her on something that doesn’t really…even…matter? Is the immediate gratification of having someone “LOL” and “LMAO but where’s the lie” in response to you worth someone else’s day being interrupted behind your unwarranted mouth vomit? No, it isn’t. Healthy communication is a dying art. But human decency doesn’t have to be. No one has to agree with your opinions. No one has to like the things you like. No one has to hate the people you hate. Understand the movies you love. Or listen to the artists you stan for. Let me stop right here for a second——repeat after me: “I am not paid to fight on the internet over celebrities I don’t know and who don’t know or care about me”. I have seen the WORST of some of y’all when it comes to defending the honor of famous people you’ve never received a check from. I’ve seen people who’ve known each other for years get into a verbal drive-by behind whoever the hottest artist of the moment is and I just…


I want better for us. Listen, I’m not perfect. I still have to catch myself when I want to lay down a verbal dragging over something I don’t like. Or when gossiping is happening and I have a spot of tea that could make heads roll. But, I’ve realized that those behaviors are my own insecurities rising up to the top. My own fear of not having my opinions heard and respected make me think that everyone has to agree with me. My own feelings of not being good enough make me want to tell you how imperfect someone else is. None of those behaviors serve me or anyone else. And the closer I get to being the best version of myself—-the further I get from using my valuable energy to tear down others. Even people I think deserve it. Because at the end of the day, I am responsible for shaping the type of environment I want to be in and, seeing as how God is not finished with me yet, it’s better that I keep the energy cute or on mute. So as this year progresses, the weather warms up and we continue to consume each other’s opinions far too often—-make sure that your “truths” about others don’t end up saying way more about you.

Peace and blessings, y’all. Forreal.

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Iman Milner1 Comment