If Blackout Tuesday—well-intentioned, though wholly misguided as it was—managed to successfully accomplish anything, it did spur a very public need to robustly call out celebrities who merely feign allyship with the Black community. Were you a terror to your Black co-workers? Consider your behavior exposed. Does your CW teen soap need to channel its expressed support of the community into its Black characters? You will be properly judged. Are you a famous dance instructor who has openly and repeatedly treated your Black students more unfavorably than the rest? If you’re Dance Moms’ Abby Lee Miller, then you will be held accountable, even if your privilege has allowed you to create a whole brand with your patently awful behavior.
When the reality star, like many other celebrities, rushed to Instagram to post her black square of performative support, Dance Mom alum Adriana Smith was quick to point out Miller’s hypocrisy, citing details of her and her daughter Kamryn’s experience.
“I couldn’t think of a more perfect day to address my experience with Abby Lee Miller,” Smith writes in the slideshow’s caption. “I’m sure most people will say ‘why did you go on the show?’ Auditioned and booked the show why wouldn’t we go? Call me naive, I thought with cancer and jail time maybe she had changed just a little bit. Well #season8 proved that was a complete lie.” In the pages following, Smith details the comments that Miller made towards her off-camera, which include, “I know you grew up in the HOOD with only a box of 8 crayons, but I grew in the Country Club with a box of 64 - don’t be stupid,” and claims that production “needed a sprinkle of color,” which allegedly resulted in the Smith’s placement on show.
Miller issued a succinct apology via Twitter, where she makes little attempt to deny the claims against her (even though she does chalk her comments up to “ignorance” instead of simply “being a terrible person who should know better,” so take that however you’d like):
“I genuinely understand and deeply regret how my words have effected [sic] and hurt those around me in the past, particularly those in the Black community,” Miller tweeted. “To Kamryn, Adriana, and anyone else I’ve hurt, I am truly sorry. I realize that racism can come not just from hate, but also from ignorance. No matter the case, it is harmful, and it is my fault. While I cannot change the past or remove the harm I have done, I promise to educate myself, learn, grow, and do better. While I hope to one day earn your forgiveness, I recognize that words alone are not enough. I understand it takes time and genuine change.”
The statement ostensibly checks a few of the necessary boxes of a decent apology—it (kind of) addresses the harm and the harmed, it takes ownership, and it promises, albeit vaguely, changed behavior. But there’s still one key element to a good “I’m sorry”: You have to say it to the person you’ve wronged. According to Smith, who reposted the statement with a caption explaining why she is refusing to accept the apology at this time, Miller never reached out to her personally, criticizing the apology as “disingenuous”: “My daughter and I have yet to hear directly from Abby Lee Miller. Moreover, she didn’t even bother to tag me or Kamryn in her post. How else would we know she apologized? My friends and peers informed me of the apology. How sincere could it be?! What happened to a phone call or at least a personal direct message?”
Per TheWrap, Lifetime has already pulled the summer special Abby’s Virtual Dance Off from its schedule with no plans to air it in the future, despite the apology. The network also confirms that its contract with Miller ended with the eighth season of Dance Moms and that she will not return, should they pursue a ninth.
Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.