Singer Erykah Badu implied that “racist” gay males are behind criticism of her recent appearance at the birthday party of the king of the south African country of Swaziland in a series of tweets posted on Thursday and Friday.
The tweets came in response to a column posted at Slate by Pedro Pizano and Jeffrey Smith, who wrote that Badu’s “response to being called out for” performing for “Swaziland’s brutal dictator” was “worse than the performance itself.” Pizano used to do communications for the Human Rights Foundation now and has a small firm consulting on human rights issues. Smith is an advocacy officer with the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights.
King Mswati III is alleged to be behind abuses including targeted killings of his political opponents, the torture and disappearances of pro-democracy advocates, and the banning of all political parties. Pizano and Smith also note that Badu performed not far from the jail where journalist Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko are being held for “criticizing the lack of an independent judiciary.”
The exchange appears to have begun after Pizano responded to this tweet from Badu:
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Badu wrote:
(Pizano got some criticism because his remark appeared to suggest being gay was something shameful, but he told BuzzFeed “I meant exactly the opposite.” It is “insulting to all my gay friends” for her to raise questions of sexuality as part of a “character assassination” that “doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re discussing.”)