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Mary:

I don’t mean no disrespect calling you by your first name and all like I know you. You don’t know me from Black Eve, but we’ve cried together and grown together.  When you sat on a New York rooftop with Method Man, your vocals and his lyrics became my adolescent anthem. The undying devotion in your voice as you sang about ”sweet morning dew” spoke to everything I felt about my first love. By the time you dropped “My Life” during my senior year of high school, pouring out your heart and singing parts of my story that were yet to be written, you were my big sister. When that First Love broke my heart, I played “I’m Going Down” on repeat, ordered from Video Music Box the visual of you with your head hung low, walking down the steps. I found, perhaps, a sick comfort in knowing I wasn’t alone with the pain in my chest, the first time I’d felt that way, but unfortunately not the last. I didn’t know where my heart was headed, but I knew I’d get through it because you did.

I’ve sat front row at one of your Madison Square Garden concerts and caught chills to your breakdown on “No More Drama.” I’ve wept openly, scaring the man who was with me at Essence Music Festival, when you sang “Not Gonna Cry” because you took me back to a place where my demons were active. When you found your happy, I partied with you when the DJ dropped “Just Fine” at a club. After news of my first book deal finally sank in (it took awhile), I sat on my Brooklyn rooftop and looked out at the bit Manhattan I can see from my three-story building and played “I Dream in Color” from the “Precious” soundtrack on my iPod. I cried and waved a hand to God when you sang, “It took a long time, to get to this place… “ My wins pale in comparison to yours, but the struggle to accept one’s self and get the payoff is the same at every level.

As someone who wants the best for you, who stans for you the way these young girls obsess about Beyonce’, I have to say this: Mary, Dearest Mary, that Burger King commercial was beneath your pedestal and your laurels. Chicken, boo? Chicken?!  I’ve put on a few pounds over the years and my girls check me when I want to wear an old dress like I have my old curves. I wish you had my girls to check you about this commercial because yours let you down.

When I first heard about your Burger King ad on Twitter, I thought I was a day late to an April Fool’s joke, or perhaps it was one of those mildly amusing skits from “Funny or Die” (except for the Bobby Brown-Mike Tyson one, which was actually hilarious.) McDonald’s is known for this just-don’t–get-it mess with Black folk singing and dancing about food. I thought you were spoofing them. I didn’t believe you were forreal until a good writer-friend who had put down her pen after Whitney died, put her newborn to bed early and let go of some much needed sleep to explain 5 ways you had gone wrong with this one. I exhaled when I heard Burger King had pulled it from YouTube, even if they claim it was due to a music licensing issue.

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52 Comments

  1. Daebug

    I also don’t see the big fuss or down grade. Now I did see it as a omg moment, a “lol”moment, Mary singing about fastfood, but not offended b/c she ain’t keeping it down for the”blacks”.
    Just like we make a living at doing our job she is doing the same thing, it’s unfortunate that being a “celebrity” puts you on blast to be judged by the world and for that reason I would never want that life, people are to critical of what someone else should be doing better.
    I hear the uproar about Mary and Burgerking but why is a down grade when we as “black people” still go there, I havent heard any outrage about that.

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  2. NY's Finest

    Idk, the commercial is corny as hell , but I don’t think it’s serious enough for an open letter to Mary. The way ppl are complaining I thought she was dancing a jig with a chicken leg in her hand. All I know is this is nowhere near as stereotypical and offensive as that Popeye’s chicken lady, now that’s something to write an open letter about.

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    • I know it’s different in the South but Popeye’s in L.A. is nasty. Some use low-grade chicken and the sides sit for a long time so I end up making my own red beans and rice w/some strips for less headache and $.

      Popeye’s is advertising shrimps (or ‘skrimps’) that are battered, deep fried and covered in garlic pepper “butter”. Gross.

      I also agree that MJB commercial is not the worst thing in our community.

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  3. Truely, someone OTHER than Mary J. has a problem with Low Self image.
    It was a commercial !!

    So, “Black” folks have to hide and eat Chicken & Burgers?? How SAD is that!!

    You are making a Judgement call on Mary J —Maybe you can take a look at yourself Since you appear to be the major one adherered to following stereotypes yo ‘massa” has set forth for you !

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  4. Libby

    Some of people on here are completely brain dead. The commercial plays on some old stereotypes from the early twentieth century. Do you dance when you eat chicken? Stepin fetchit made an entire career out of it. Do you sing about chicken? Some people need to READ Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films and maybe you won’t be so dismissive.

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    • +1 black people must have selective memory when it comes to history, because we forget so much about our past in this country.

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    • apple

      so you gonna let white people dictate whether or not you can like chicken. chicken and watermelon is one of the most stupidest stereotypes ever. newsflash everyone LIKES CHICKEN and chicken isnt hurting anyone. now when she twerks on a handstand or call us niggas,bitches and hoes call me. i hate having to pretend i don’t like one of the most popular type of meats because some white people thought it would be funny to attach that meat to us. what if they had chose beef for the stereotype back then. then we’d be shame to admit we like hamburgers

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    • Whatever

      @LIBBY

      +1

      People have selective memories…. or maybe they actually believe that we live in a post racial society. I’m so f*cking sick of these lame ads with people dancing, rapping and singing about chicken. Post Racial Society Minstrel shows disguised as Advertisements.

      They used Mary for the chicken spot as opposed to the smoothie spot because THEY are playing into old stereotypes about black people and chicken. It is NOT just a commercial as many posters claim it is. Too blind and/or lazy to use their brains or research their own damn history. If history is too deep for you, at least pick up a book on advertising and see how much research goes into these ads before they ever reach the public. Mary was specifically chosen for the chicken spot.

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    • Libby,

      I’m thinking some of these people aren’t blk. Most of the Blk sites I read have been inundated with “WP” folks mascarding as blk folks. You can tell who they are because they show their faces on posts just like this.

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  5. Kiki @ LNS

    OMG really???? This is what this long, dramatic post is about?! I agree, it is a stupid, bad commercial. However, it is just a commercial. I didn’t see anything derogatory or racist about it. Must we continuously pick unnecessary battles of race?

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