Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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A Conversation With the Dallasite Behind ‘the Yee Haw Agenda’

Bri Malandro discusses black cowboy culture and Old Town Road, but not her day job.
Billy Surface

You’ve been credited with coining the phrase “the yee haw agenda” when you tweeted a couple of photos of Ciara wearing a cowboy hat in September. The hashtag went viral and you ended up being referenced in Rolling Stone, Jezebel—even the Irish Examiner. What’s it all mean?
I was just being funny and playing around. You know how people say “the gay agenda”? Because it was like people getting upset at gay stuff being pushed? So I was like, oh, this is the yee haw agenda. Like, it’s cowboy hats on black girls.

Why cowboy culture? What piqued your interest?
My grandma watched Walker, Texas Ranger; my mother watched Westerns. And my father, Issiac Holt, played football for the Dallas Cowboys. So from 3 months old on, I’ve always been around cowboy stuff. I was 7 when my parents got divorced. Once they split up, I never told anybody he played football because we were struggling so hard. When I would tell people, “My dad used to play football,” they wouldn’t believe me. So I just kept it to myself. But that’s when I started to pay attention to pop culture.

How did you build a following?
I started with an account on Tumblr, femburton. I would post archival fashion pictures, pictures from music videos. Even current stuff, like photo shoots. It was like what Twitter is now, but it was way earlier. So that’s how most people know about me. Now my Instagram is @theyeehawagenda.

Why do you think your posts generated so much interest?
I didn’t understand why it was so shocking to everyone. You know, it’s always been here in Dallas. Mexican, black, white—we’re all on that cowboy stuff. And being a fan of pop culture, I’m like, are you serious? Black people have been wearing hats forever. Mary J. Blige. Beyoncé. Nicole Wray. Go back through Instagram and see.

Let’s talk “Old Town Road.” Original or remix?
I like the remix. I mean, the original, when I first heard that, I thought that beat was sampled because it was so good. But the remix, I just like the whole moment that it gave Billy Ray Cyrus. That’s an iconic moment. Of course, we’ve had Nelly with Tim McGraw, and there’s Snoop Dogg with Willie Nelson. There’s so much country in hip-hop, so even for it to be a controversy to me is, like, what? It’s just music.

What did you think about Solange Knowles’ recent video for “Things I Imagined,” with horses doing dressage and her in cowgirl attire in front of Dallas City Hall?
You know, Solange is from Houston. There’s pictures of her when she was a kid in cowboy hats. That was always their aesthetic. I guess people just finally woke up.

So what’s your day job?
I don’t want to say, but it’s a normal 9-to-5-type job. But with all this stuff happening, it’s crazy. My boss doesn’t really know what it’s about. I’ve been on the internet for 10 years. And for this to be the thing that gets me a call from you or Elle is really strange. But eventually it’s gonna have to come to an end.

Next on your agenda?
I do want to start selling clothing. I want to do chaps, holster bags, tanks, and cowboy hats, too. It’s Texas’ time. The spotlight is on Texas. The spotlight is on country. People want that right now.

Have you ever been to the Texas Black Invitational Rodeo in Fair Park?
No, I’ve never been to the rodeo. That’s the thing about all this—I’ve always known they exist, but I’ve never done it. Did it already happen?

No, it’s coming up on June 15.
I wanna go to that rodeo. Maybe we’ll go together!