Is Lana Del Rey the Poster Child for White Fragility?

Lana Del Rey

You’re surely familiar with the expression: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. 

It’s a mantra that Lana Del Rey apparently takes very seriously, having shared the artwork for her new album Chemtrails Over The Country Club, and then immediately defending her choice of cover in which a bunch of ladies are hanging out looking like a pamphlet out of the roaring twenties. 


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Del Rey commented on her Instagram post of the album artwork making sure to point out that some of the women featured aren’t white and to remind us that she has “always been extremely inclusive without even trying to”. Congratulations, I guess? 

She also wrote, “I also want to say that with everything going on this year. And no this was not intended – these are my best friends, since you are asking today. And damn! As it happens when it comes to my amazing friends and this cover yes there are people of colour on this records (sic) picture and that’s all I’ll say about that but thank you.”

“Woah, Lana chill out. And maybe put the phone down”…is what I wish someone had said to her before she wrote well, this:

“My beautiful friend Valerie from Del Rio Mexico, my dearest friend Alex and my gorgeous friend Dakota Rain as well as my sweetheart Tatiana.

These are my friends this is my life. We are all a beautiful mix of everything – some more than others which is visible and celebrated in everything I do. In 11 years working I have always been extremely inclusive without even trying to. My best friends are rappers my boyfriends have been rappers.

My dearest friends have been from all over the place, so before you make comments again about a WOC/POC issue, I’m not the one storming the capital, I’m literally changing the world by putting my life and thoughts and love out there on the table 24 seven. Respect it.”

I truly don’t even know where to begin with this or to figure out which part horrifies me the most. The “I have friends who aren’t white, let me list all one of them!” is pretty bad.

The completely un-self-aware (and false) claim that she is “literally changing the world” is cringeworthy, to say the least.

However, it’s her massive, implied generalisation that all rappers are Black that really had me, and social media, seething. 

All of this would have been terrible enough, but the word vomit came before she ate the proverbial bad chicken. Perhaps if she hadn’t pre-emptively rushed to defend her choice of album art, people wouldn’t have clocked it as lacking diversity. 

Of course, this is hardly the first time the singer has come under fire for words or actions that were deemed racist. 

Last year Del Rey lamented that she had been accused of “glamourising abuse” in her lyrics and that she was held to a different standard than fellow female artists, after comparing her experiences to a list of female artists, none of whom were white.

Apparently not one to know when to put something to rest, the Summertime Sadness singer then continued to explain her position with subsequent social media posts.

“I don’t wanna beat a dead horse and I don’t wanna go on and on about this post,” Del Rey wrote. “And when I mentioned women who look like me, I didn’t mean white like me, I meant the kind of women who other people might not believe because they think, ‘Oh, look at her, she f**kin’ deserves it,’ or whatever.”

Please, make it stop. 

Now look, I can’t speak for every single person who took issue with the Grammy-winner’s rant, I can only tell you why I did so here goes. 

One of the biggest lessons we, as a global community, were asked to please learn in 2020 was how our own defensiveness — or white fragility — is inexorably counterproductive to the fight for social justice and the dismantling of systemic racism. The brilliant Robin DiAngelo even wrote a book on the subject, and I highly suggest you read it if you haven’t (especially if your name is Lana Del Rey.) 

In her rush to defend some cover art that no one had yet criticised, Del Ray tokenised her non-white friends, made a sweeping statement about the predominant race of rappers, undermined the tireless efforts of activists who are actually changing the world and compared people who are, understandably, upset about pervasive and destructive discrimination to a bunch of hateful morons who incited violence because their equally moronic leader didn’t get his way. 

Del Rey is undeniably talented with a singing voice we love to hear, but right now, if she can’t use that voice to amplify the issues that people of colour are grappling with, then she needs to learn to listen instead. 

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