Home NEWS ENTERTAINMENT Buckle Up: Alice Walker, Tracy Chapman and the Messiest Black Love Story Never Told

Buckle Up: Alice Walker, Tracy Chapman and the Messiest Black Love Story Never Told

 

The decades-old lore has been revived on the Internet because of renewed attention to the works of Walker and Chapman.

The messiest (alleged) Black love story on the internet is making rounds once again.

A new generation of souls is learning about the two-year love affair of author Alice Walker and singer Tracy Chapman, thanks to renewed interest in the oeuvres of both women: Walker’s canonical Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel “The Color Purple” was adapted to film for the second time in 2023, while Chapman made history as the first Black person to nab a No. 1 country song and the first to win Song of the Year at the Country Music Awards, thanks to (white dude) Luke Combs’ rendition of her seminal 1988 hit “Fast Car.”

Their relationship, which occurred in the 1990s when Walker was almost 50 and Chapman almost 30, was apparently borne of a mutual love of the arts. Following decades of speculation and a very brief acknowledgment of the relationship in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Walker spoke about Chapman on camera for the first time in 2022 to Gayle King while promoting her memoir, “Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker.”

In that interview, Walker admitted to being bisexual. (“I’m someone who actually loves everybody, men and women. And it’s just the most wonderful thing.”). She also admitted that she fell in love with Chapman because of her voice.

Their relationship, which occurred in the 1990s when Walker was almost 50 and Chapman almost 30, was apparently borne of a mutual love of the arts. Following decades of speculation and a very brief acknowledgment of the relationship in a 2006 interview with The Guardian, Walker spoke about Chapman on camera for the first time in 2022 to Gayle King while promoting her memoir, “Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker.”

Most “official” reporting of their relationship starts and ends with Walker’s thoughts since Chapman is notoriously reclusive and doesn’t give interviews about her personal life. But that’s where the lore begins: a scandalous love triangle on which people have speculated for decades but has never been confirmed by any party involved. Buckle up.

Motherly “love”
This story involves Rebecca Walker, Alice’s daughter with ex-husband and Jewish civil rights lawyer Melvyn Leventhal. Presumably, Rebecca assumed her mother’s maiden name to advance her own career as author and feminist activist.

While Walker has remained relatively mum about her relationship with her daughter throughout the years, Rebecca has expressed to everyone not nailed down that neither of her folks would win Parent of the Year awards, but specifically that she spent much of her life at odds with her mother’s sensibilities.

Rebecca wrote about her childhood in her 2000 memoir “Black, White and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self” and penned a 2008 Daily Mail article claiming that Walker believed that Rebecca birthing her son, Tenzin, in 2004 was a “failure of feminism.”

“You see, my mum taught me that children enslave women,” she wrote. “I grew up believing that children are millstones around your neck, and the idea that motherhood can make you blissfully happy is a complete fairytale.”

If the lore is true, however, her gripes stem not just from perceived bad mothering, but the fact that Rebecca — an out bisexual — dated Chapman first, and Walker actually stole Chapman from her own daughter. Mind you. Rebecca and Chapman are peers in age, while Walker and Chapman are two decades apart.

(It’s important to stress “allegedly” with all of this, as none of it has ever been confirmed by any of the parties involved. And we’re not fans of lawyers.)

The bitter end
Let YouTuber GABI U.K. tell it, Walker and Chapman’s brief relationship ended with Celie and Mister levels of toxicity.

That toxicity allegedly drove Chapman to write the title track from her 2000 album “Telling Stories.” The bars “There is fiction in the space between/The lines on your page of memories/Write it down but it doesn’t mean/You’re not just telling stories” certainly read like an artistic clapback at a former boo — a 10-year-old Taylor Swift might’ve learned a thing or two.

Though there’s no confirmed evidence of a romantic relationship between Rebecca and Chapman, there’s evidence of a financial one: In January 1996, Rebecca and Angel Williams opened Kokobar, the first cybercafe owned and operated by Black women, in Brooklyn. Financial backers included director Spike Lee and Chapman, who invested $60,000, per the New York Times.

When the owners failed to repay Chapman in a timely manner, she sued Williams and Kokobar, and eventually sent sheriff’s deputies and lawyers to seize $1,500 in cash, 25 chairs, five tables, two coffee urns and a partridge in a pear tree. Chapman characteristically said nothing about it publicly, but Williams had words for her.

“If she doesn’t give a hoot about people, that’s fine. But then she shouldn’t run around singing songs about saving the earth,” she told NYT.

As this allegedly occurred at the end of Walker’s relationship with Chapman, some believe that the seizure was the work of a scorned ex attempting to wash her hands of the entire damn family. There’s even a rumor about Rebecca’s then-girlfriend writing a letter cussing Chapman out and pinning it on the shuttered Kokobar storefront….again, allegedly.

What’s everyone’s deal in 2024?
We’re talking about a 30-plus-year-old course of events, so it’s safe to assume that all parties have moved on…at least, we hope.

Walker just turned 80 and is receiving praise for her bodies of work as well as criticism for her perceived antisemitism and defense of transphobia.

Rebecca publicly dated singer/rapper Me’Shell N’degéocello for a spell before having Tenzin with Buddhist teacher Choyin Rangdrol. Her relationship with her mother has improved over the years; Walker wrote the foreword to Rebecca’s 2022 book “Women Talk Money.”

As for Chapman, she’s still staying mum on all you fools: it’s believed she’s currently dating screenwriter Guinevere Turner. Her low-key nature and tendency to not be outside contributed to the power of her performance of “Fast Car” at this year’s Grammys. She’ll likely remain the “tell my story in a song” type, so the social media super-sleuths will have to comb every lyric of hers to find an inkling of a clue regarding the (alleged) Walker love triangle.

Indeed, the world may never get official confirmation of the triangle, and the whole thing could just be urban legend. But if Walker really nabbed her daughter’s girlfriend instead of picking literally anyone else, that’s some nasty work worthy of Celie’s rebuke: “Until you do right by me, momma…”

Source theroot.com

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