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Jaida Essence Hall doesn't know "a single" Black 'Drag Race' queen unaffected by racism

"Art is art, and the colour of your skin should not determine the value of that art."

2020-08-13

Jaida Essence Hall might be sitting pretty atop the RuPaul's Drag Race perch after storming to victory in the season 12 finale, but America's newest drag supertar is well aware of the hurdles she still faces as a Black winner.

Milwaukee queen Jaida, 32, may have won over judges and fans with her fierce looks, fiesty personality and knack for impeccable drag pageantry, but the fact season 12's two white runners up, Crystal Methyd and Gigi Goode, continue to boast hundreds of thousands more followers on Instagram is indicative of the problem with race that still dogs the Drag Race fandom.

Jaida Essence Hall wear Andrea Montoya for the Attitude September issue (Photography: Magnus Hastings)

Jaida, who recently tweeted support for season 10 queen Asia O’Hara after she revealed she’d been asked to 'sit out' of photo ops by fans, says she doesn't know "a single" Black queen who hasn't had similar experiences.

"You know, I don’t know a single Black queen who’s not been through this sort of thing", Jaida says in the Attitude September issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Jaida wears full look by Joshuan Aponte (Photography: Magnus Hastings)

"The thing is, so many of us don’t talk about it, because, sadly, a lot of people just assume that we are complaining or not working hard enough, or simply 'not deserving', and the reality is that we are some of the most trailblazing, creative queens out there. We all deserve the same amount of respect.

"Art is art, and the colour of your skin should not determine the value of that art."

The Drag Race fandom has long been accused of failing to embrace Black queens with the same vigour they do white queens, but Jaida says addressing the problem runs far deeper than just drag.

Jaida wears full look by Joshuan Aponte (Photography: Magnus Hastings)

"I really wish that I had the answer to that question. But, honestly, I don’t," responds Jaida when asked how fans can better challenge the racism experience by Black queens.

"I think it’s just gonna take [time] for people to understand and appreciate what Black queens bring to the table, and really this is not just about drag.

"In all aspects of life, more people should respect the art, the love and contributions of Black people."

Jaida wears full look by Cong Tri (Photography: Magnus Hastings)

Asked whether she believes real change is coming following the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the globe earlier this summer following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US, Jaida replies: "I absolutely believe a positive change is happening from all of this.

"I [initially] believed that, once again, another man would lose his life, and then there would be business as usual, because that’s how it’s been in the past.

"As a black person in America, I’ve seen it time and time again. But it feels as though there’s a new air and people have officially had enough.

"I’m so grateful for that, because now we have so many allies to help amplify black voices when so many people would normally ignore them."

Read the full interview in the Attitude September issue, out now to download and to order globally.

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