The Black Madonna has changed her name to The Blessed Madonna.
The decision comes in the wake of a petition calling for the artist, real name Marea Stamper, to change her alias on the grounds that it is a form of cultural appropriation and digital blackface.
The petition was started by DJ and Black Catalogue label boss Monty Luke who says he had twice tried to make contact with Stamper to discuss ways in which she could change her alias because the name The Black Madonna "holds significance for catholics around the world, but especially so for black catholics in the US, Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, Detroit's Shrine of the Black Madonna has been an important cultural figure to many interested in the idea of Black feminism and self-determination for the past 50 years. Religious connotations aside though, it should be abundantly clear that in 2020, a white woman calling herself 'black' is highly problematic."
The petition was published yesterday and has so far received over 1000 signatures.
In a statement posted to socials this morning Stamper wrote:
"I have always been transparent about my faith because I felt a responsibility to be clear about who I was and who I was not. The name was a reflection of my family’s lifelong and profound Catholic devotion to a specific kind of European icon of the Virgin Mary which is dark in hue. People who shared that devotion loved the name, but in retrospect I should have listened harder to other perspectives.
"But now I hear loud and clear. My artist name has been a point of controversy, confusion, pain and frustration that distracts from things that are a thousand times more important than any single word in that name. We're living in extraordinary times and this is a very small part of a much bigger conversation, but we all have a responsibility to try and affect positive change in any way we can. I want you to be able to feel confident in the person I am and what I stand for."
Monty Luke says he started the petition because he did not receive a reply to two emails he had sent to Stamper. A statement posted to the petition's Change.org page says:
"On June 14 of this year, I emailed Marea Stamper, in an effort to open a dialogue about the possibility of her moving away from using her DJ alias, The Black Madonna. This name, "The Black Madonna," holds significance for catholics around the world, but especially so for black catholics in the US, Caribbean and Latin America. In addition, Detroit's Shrine of the Black Madonna has been an important cultural figure to many interested in the idea of Black feminism and self-determination for the past 50 years. Religious connotations aside though, it should be abundantly clear that in 2020, a white woman calling herself 'black' is highly problematic. I explained these things in my message and concluded the email with some practical suggestions on how the nickname/alias transition could take place.
"I received no response.
"In the intervening time, several artists and organizations with much deeper and long-standing ties to problematic nicknames announced they would no longer be using them. Lady Antebellum, The Dixie Chicks, Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians and the NFL team based in Washington D.C., have all made the change. Why can't Marea Stamper? The reality is, there is no better time to make such a change. No one is working. She could tell her management team she has decided to no longer use the nickname. They could send out a typical press release announcing the change and when things do start back up, easily complete the transition by putting "(The Black Madonna)" in parentheses by her own name(or whatever new alias she chooses) for a few weeks on all gigs/flyers/socials/etc. Anything done before the switch(music, merch, video games, etc) stays as-is.
"A follow-up email sent on July 7 also went unanswered. This is why I am now resorting to this public petition campaign to effect this change."
Stamper has previously faced calls to change her alias but has up until now chosen to defend it.