Ellie Kemper probably didn’t expect to see her name trending this holiday weekend, especially not for THIS reason…
The comedienne is known for playing naive, innocent characters like her roles in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Office, and Bridesmaids, so likely the last thing anyone would associate her with is something as toxic and violently racist as the actual Klu Klux Klan. Yet, for whatever reason, Twitter uncovered her connection to a suspicious, secretive organization that had fans shocked — and calling her a “KKK Queen.”
So, was Ellie really part of the KKK? Not exactly, but…
At 19, she was crowned “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the Veiled Prophet Ball, an event hosted by an organization of the same name that has deep ties to white supremacy. According to The Atlantic, the Veiled Prophet was a myth created by the white elite in response to unions organizing in St. Louis, MO:
“Perhaps more fundamentally though, the VP activities were a response to growing labor unrest in the city, much of it involving cooperation between white and black workers. … primary goal of the VP events was to take back the public stage from populist demands for social and economic justice.”
The “Veiled Prophet” himself represented “accumulated privilege and power of the status quo,” while the yearly VP Fair was meant to reinforce “the notion of a benevolent cultural elite.” And if you’re wondering where the KKK comes in, well, per The Atlantic:
“In fact, to underline the message of class and race hegemony, the image of the first Veiled Prophet is armed with a shotgun and pistol and is strikingly similar in appearance to a Klansman.”
Unsurprisingly, the organization, founded in 1878, didn’t allow Black or Jewish members for much of its history (they began allowing Black members in 1979). Every year the organization chooses one man to masquerade as the Veiled Prophet himself. The identities of these men are such a strictly kept secret that we only know about two in the event’s entire history, including the former executive vice president of Monsanto, Tom K. Smith. He was forcibly unveiled by activist Gena Scott in 1972, who had her car bombed and house vandalized for interfering with the event, according to The Atlantic.
So while the actress is not literally a “KKK Queen,” the association is DEFINITELY problematic. Whether or not she’s “cancelled” because of it is a different story. Some Twitter users weren’t surprised to find out that a midwestern girl from one of the richest families in Missouri would dip her toes in racist traditions (or that she would go on to become a successful comic). For those not familiar, Ellie’s dad David Kemper is directly related to William Thornton Kemper Sr., who founded Commerce Bancshares and United Missouri Bank.
But others pointed out that even if the 41-year-old isn’t an explicit member of the Klan, it’s still important to hold accountable the kind of organizations that preserve white supremacy:
“even if its not the kkk if its all white ppl you know racism was afoot so”
“i don’t have to think ellie kemper’s a grand wizard herself to want to her (and the entire stl community) to take a look at how they’ve entrenched (while also trying to obscure and sanitize) the ongoing legacy of the KKK”
“I missed the Klan discourse re: Ellie Kemper but this seems like a good time to point out that for much of its existence the KKK operated primarily as a social club. this tells us less ab EK than it does ab how embedded most white communities are in white supremacist organizing.”
“Ellie Kemper can say what she wants but you’re not about to convince black people any group of white people founded in 18whenever isn’t the Klan pooh sorry”
Yes, this happened a long time ago when Ellie was much younger, but it still seems like something the sitcom star should address and condemn. And if it opens people’s eyes to the ways that white supremacy has ingrained itself into our society — so much so that it operates, and even celebrates itself, in plain sight — then something good may have come out of exposing her, even if she is one unimportant piece of the strange puzzle of the Veiled Prophet.
Ch-ch-check out more Twitter reactions to the controversy (below):
Source: Read Full Article