First and foremost, Jana Kramer and Mickey Guyton are dear friends. They’re also peers in an industry known for being difficult for young women. And they were recently host and guest on Jana’s Whine Down podcast where they addressed the often difficult and uncomfortable topic of racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Before Mickey even spoke on the podcast, Jana broke down recognizing that she didn’t even know what to say to support her friend.
“I called Mickey because, first of all, I love Mickey, I’ve loved her forever,” she said. “A – I wanted to see how she was doing. B – I also wanted to say, ‘I want to support you, but I don’t know how. What am I supposed to say so you feel supported?’”
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As she grew emotional, Jana continued, “And so I called because I wanted to say, ‘I don’t even know what to say because I feel like this essentially white privileged little girl, what can I say to you to make you feel like I’m here for you?’”
After sharing her thoughts on the long and painful history of racism, the very gracious Mickey said, “I know you feel bad. There’s a lot of us feeling bad. We all feel bad. If you don’t feel bad, you don’t have a heart because this is real. We’re seeing it and we can’t deny it anymore. And we’re all so charged because we don’t want this to be that way anymore. And we must remember and take a moment to be grateful for that there is way more love than there is hate. There are so many people denouncing and protesting against racism.”
Mickey shared her own story of persecution. “I have seen, in Ventura County, California, cops come to my home, take my husband, throw him to the ground, tell him he’s not a lawyer, tell people that is not our Jag parked in the neighborhood being the only black people in that neighborhood. I have seen the injustice myself. Then, after seeing that, I would then have to go on a stage and sing and act like everything’s okay, and I have absolutely sang on a stage and someone has called me the ’N’ word.”
The conversation came to an abrupt halt, though, after Jana’s husband, Michael, said that he was sure there was someone who hadn’t been subjected to racial prejudice. “I’m going to have to get off this call,” Mickey said. “You cannot say those things.”
When the conversation resumed, Jana explained, “I talked to Mickey, I think what really hurt her is when you said, ‘You can’t say I highly doubt all black people have experienced racism’ and expect me to sit there for that.’”
Mike admitted that he was in the wrong and said, “It just goes to show that even when someone’s intentions are pure, that doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is sensitive or empathetic toward someone else because how I said that, kind of negating Mickey’s answer to my question, was ignorant. And I wish I could take that back and say that differently because that’s not my place to say.”
Mickey did return to the call, along with her husband, Grant. “Racism is something that you cannot play with,” she responded emotionally. “It is so embedded in all of us and when you discount someone’s experiences, that is mentally and emotionally damaging.”
“I’m trying to be as honest and open as I possibly can,” she continued. “And with that, I ask that you hold that and are gentle with that.”
As the conversation continued, Michael apologized directly to Mickey who told him, “It’s anything to do with racism or the marginalization of women and people of color, you have to go in that with the most intentional intention as you can ever have with those subject matters because it is so serious. I live it every day.”
Mickey’s husband, Grant, offered this: “I think admitting that you don’t know what to say because this issue is so much bigger than any of us can really wrap our minds around, admitting that you don’t know how to cure the problem, but you’re willing to do whatever it takes, admitting that you don’t know what it feels like to be black and you never will, but you understand that there is an injustice and you’ll do whatever it takes to bridge that gap.”
“Saying something, whether it’s the right words or not is better than not saying anything. The problem is, a lot of people think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to say the wrong thing, it’s not my fight, I’ve never experienced racism, so I’m not going to speak on it,’ and by not saying anything, it actually lets racism win.”
Listen to Jana’s Whine Down podcast here.