Even in Death, There is No Peace for Whitney Houston

TransGriot Note: Renee wrote this post for Clutch magazine

When
I was young girl, I thought that Whitney Houston was a
princess.  Everything about her seemed perfect and I am sure that I
cracked a few mirrors attempting to sing like her.  As I grew older and
Whitney attempted to take control of her own image, I began to
understand that the Whitney Houston who I had loved — with what can only
be described as a teenager’s glee — was a creation of Clive Davis.

In crafting Whitney’s public persona, Davis’s brilliance was giving
Black people a woman who could be elevated at a time when we were all
desperate for positive images of Black femininity.   This vision of
Black womanhood was framed in a manner that was not threatening to
Whiteness because it didn’t involve a political message which questioned
inequality or any of the issues Black women have to negotiate in this
world. Whitney was a Black woman with a powerful voice, singing cute
and ultimately harmless pop songs rather than gospel or R&B music.
 As a professional voice for hire, they told her what to sing and she
sang it.

In the later years of her career, Whitney would take control over own
image and move away from the “princess” Davis created in an attempt to
be more authentically herself.  Whitney strove to bring in the
traditions of her own culture as an African-American woman and to more
closely tie herself to the Black community, but despite her efforts, she
was booed at the 1989 Soul Train Awards.  Like many celebrities, the
creation still obscured the person, but in her case it was specifically
because many viewed her as “too white.”  Her acceptance in the Black
community was often tenuous as a result.

 Finish reading article here.

Scroll to Top