TV & Movies

The 'All Stars' 5 Premiere Included A Powerful Performance About Systemic Racism

Spoilers ahead for the Season 5 premiere of Drag Race: All Stars. The Season 5 premiere of Drag Race: All Stars may have been taped long before the U.S. erupted in protest against racism and police brutality, but Mariah Balenciaga's maxi-challenge performance nonetheless spoke powerfully to the current moment — and the decades of injustice that have preceded it. When the Atlanta native stepped onstage in a white dress, she immediately began recounting instances of inequality and pain in a spoken word performance. "The marks, the stains, my words I shall not refrain," she began. "Stains from the fights for rights, freedom still not in sight."

She then slowly danced over to a glass board — buckets of red paint on either side — and dipped her hands in to dramatically smear it, blood-like, across the canvas and her gown. Judging by Ru's agape jaw, he was stunned. Mariah continued:

"Stains upon the walls of those who voice power and pride. Stains of those who refuse to be silenced or hide. Stains on the wall of those feared and misunderstood. Stains of those who were told who to love, how to love, and how to act, religious veils will sanctify that. Retaliation to a terror born of this nation, the stains of those who lived through segregation. Will we transcend and ascend? Will the fear and hate ever end? That's the greatest question of all. Until then, I'll continue to tell the story of the stains on the wall."

Later, when it was time for the judges critiques, guest judge Ricky Martin thanked Mariah for her art. "Your performance had a very beautiful message, and the fact that you brought that message I think is very important," he said. "So for that, I really thank you."

Mariah walked away from the maxi-challenge still in the competition. Her act wasn't winning material, but it was definitely food for thought. In the words of Mayhem Miller, "Alright miss Mariah Angelou, make the people think!"