At 74 years old, Dolly Parton is still be one of the most progressive voices in country music. Covering Billboard’s Country Power Players issue, the music icon sits down (via Skype) for a brilliant profile about her media empire and legacy, and at one point the conversation turns to Black Lives Matter protests. I love Dolly as cultural icon, but I’m not fan of country music, so this piece wouldn’t have caught my eye if Dolly’s name didn’t start trending on Twitter after the internet got a hold of this amazing quote:
“I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen. And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”
I love that she said it with her whole chest, and when we’re talking about Dolly, that expression holds extra weight… Okay, I’ll stop. But it’s the way that she says it. It’s the matter of fact Dolly-ness of it. It’s the suburban housewife-approved cussing. It feels authentic and I hope it resonates with the section of her fanbase who may not believe Black lives matter. After so many on Twitter felt the same way about this quote as I did, Billboard released this moment on video — which I love. In a print article, a reader can’t really detect if you fully believe what you’re saying, or if it’s what your PR team wants you to say. There’s no hiding from a camera, and Dolly did not disappoint.
â€œAs soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Donâ€™t be a dumbass. Thatâ€™s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.â€ â€“@DollyParton on removing the word "Dixie" from Dollywood.— billboard (@billboard) August 14, 2020
The full cover story âž¡ï¸ https://t.co/AN9zNk1dRX pic.twitter.com/JpSpYzDi0B
But from the woman who, just last year, made headlines for saying she didn’t consider herself a feminist? Talk about unexpected. And it’s not that I think Dolly’s an ignorant old white lady (I actually think she’s built a brand on love) but there are so many country artists out there who won’t publicly support social causes their fans may not agree with. Country music culture is about being pro-America and that’s it. Remember when Taylor Swift was practically being lauded as the alt-right’s Aryan princess? It took Swift years to condemn white supremacy, and she’s of the modern era! Parton’s got fans from back when she started in the 60s.
Dolly tells Billboard she hasn’t attended any marches herself (now that would be a sight to see — sequin corsets and all) but she appreciates that people need to express themselves however they feel necessary. Why can’t more people be like Dolly?
“I’m not here to tell you what to do, I don’t want you to tell me what to do.”
Apparently Dolly’s been doing the work for a while now. When she became aware of how hurtful the term “Dixie” and its associations with Confederacy could be, she renamed her company’s attractions. This was two years before The Chicks dropped “Dixie” from their band title.
"There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that. When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
Don’t be a dumbass. I love that energy. Although, she gets a little corporate in her reasoning, as she explains how the decision may affect the pocketbook, but she comes back around with her own values at the end. And she tells Billboard, it’s her values that guide every decision she makes in life and career.
“All these good Christian people that are supposed to be such good Christian people, the last thing we’re supposed to do is to judge one another. God is the judge, not us. I just try to be myself. I try to let every else be themselves.”
You can read Dolly’s full Billboard profile about steering and growing her empire through the pandemic here. It’s excellent.