(photo credit: Theo Wargo/Getty for Tribeca Film Festival)
Photo described in text.

I was reading an article about the death of Aretha Franklin, a woman whose music I have enjoyed over the years. Like many of her fans, I was deeply saddened by her death. The photo which headlined the article was beautiful. It was a picture of Ms Franklin with her arms wide open, singing her heart out, she looked joyous. The microphone was in one of her outstretched hands, this is a woman who’s voice could reach the back of a concert hall without assistance. I thought, when looking at it, that it was the perfect picture for the author to use as a send off. I could easily imagine angel’s wings behind her and heaven waiting above her.

Foolishly, I went to the comments.

The article was only recently published on-line so there was only one comment. Hold on, while I go and clip it and bring it over for you to see:

Damn those are some bingo wings.

I sat there stunned. I am constantly surprised at the casual cruelty that exists. I am astonished that I am expected to find this remark funny. Once I understood what was being said, my hands flew off the keyboard as if I was afraid that I would catch the cruelty virus through contact in any way with those words. They are there anonymously. They are the first comment.

I admit to not knowing what was meant by the comment. I wondered what ‘bingo wings’ meant. And then, I knew, I didn’t have to go back and review the pictures, I knew that there would be one that would have occasioned this remark.

But that’s wrong isn’t it.

The picture didn’t cause the remark.

I never thought the picture was anything but magnificant.

It’s easy to blame the picture.

But it holds no blame.

The person making the comment is solely responsible for what was said. Of a talented woman. Of a woman who gave to her community. Of a woman with massive talent. Of a woman, just passed away.

There is shame here.

But not hers.

BUT NOT HERS.

The shame rests in fingers that type words that are meant to demean another. That are meant to scorn those who live in the real world, in real bodies, doing real things. There was nothing virtual about Aretha Franklin. She was as real as real could get.

And that exactly why we loved her.

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