Folks, this is why we love Dolly Parton. In a recent, wide-ranging profile, Billboard asked the country icon whether she supported Black Lives Matter—and she provided a full-throated response: “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” Parton said. “And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”
During her interview, Parton expressed her deep belief in the “live and let live” approach to life—a philosophy Billboard suggests could the the source of her broad appeal.
“I do believe we all have a right to be exactly who we are,” Parton said, “and it is not my place to judge. All these good Christian people that are supposed to be such good Christian people, the last thing we’re supposed to do is judge one another. God is the judge, not us. I just try to be myself. I just try to let everybody else be themselves.”
That doesn’t mean Parton thinks she’s never messed up, either. In 2018 she renamed her Civil War-themed dinner theater program from Dixie Stampede to Dolly Parton’s Stampede after becoming more aware of the Confederate associations. (She’s not the only musician to cut the word “Dixie” from her brand; just this year the Dixie Chicks renamed themselves The Chicks for the same reason.)
“There’s such a thing as innocent ignorance, and so many of us are guilty of that,” Parton told Billboard. “When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
Billboard also spoke with Jad Abumrad, who hosted a nine-part series on Parton in 2019 for WNYC Studios and tried to determine the source of Dolly’s widespread appeal. Eventually, he arrived at an answer: “I say this with humility and as someone who is not a believer,” he said. “There’s something very Christ-like about her.”
Religious affiliations aside, the mantra “What Would Dolly Do?” does have a certain ring to it.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Jad Abumrad’s name.