Bonus Post: The Beyonce Conversation
I think even people living under a rock found out about Beyonce’s surprise new album that dropped this week.
The reactions to her musical colossus were all over the place. It left culture and music critics scrambling to figure out how to describe it and define it. The feminists were in a tizzy about how feminist it was or it was not. People who weren’t big fans of hers were irritated with the saturation of their social media timelines and the fans/stans/etc. their cult-like praise was in over drive.
So people have been sending me the articles either in favor of, or against Mrs. Carter, Beyzus, Yonce, Sasha Fierce, Peaches, Baddie Bey, King Bey or whatever you want to call her.
My feelings are mixed. I was accused of being a stan this week when I was reacting to Bey’s whopping 17 videos released with the album on Twitter. Because they were all pretty awesome and visually stunning. Then on the flipside, I was sent a link that was basically ripping Bey to pieces and saying she is a horrible person for black or brown women to aspire to be.
Here’s where I fall, in case yall wanted to know or care. And you may be so tired of Beyonce right now, that you don’t feel like reading yet another blog post or article about her. Here is what I wrote to the person who sent me the more negative link.
When Beyonce came out with Destiny’s Child, I didn’t like her. I was shamed into not liking her because she was always singing lead, she was the light-skinned girl and her daddy managed the group. I was shamed into not supporting her because if I did, it would affirm to others that I believed light-skinned girls were prettier and better than everyone else and they were allowed to have the spotlight regardless. As a light-skinned girl who saw the beauty in all women, I didn’t want people to think that. Folks assumed that about me anyway. Me and Bey are basically the same age. I could not openly stan for Bey. So while I enjoyed DC’s music, I publicly hated Beyonce. Made jokes about how she won’t let the other girls sing, and I gushed about Kelly and said LaTavia seemed to have the spunk of the group. Greg made fun of me about what a Bey hater I was and he even brought up the light-skinned thing. I shrugged him off, but he was right.
Some time had passed and VH1s Divas came on. Beyonce was about to break out in her solo career and she preformed “Dangerously in Love.” And.She.Nailed it. She wore a gorgeous gown and sang her face off with so much soul. You could tell she wanted to prove to everyone she was much more than the lead singer of a group and that she deserved her spot in the light. At that point, I felt like she finally “earned” my respect. I’ve seen Beyonce shows. That woman works hard and has so many people picking at everything she does. Beyonce hasn’t gotten into any major trouble, she’s been meticulous about her brand, she is a philanthropist and does a lot of work for women and children in Houston, back home. And you can tell she admires smart people. She stans for Michelle Obama because she is so educated and has used her mind to be successful. To me, that says a lot about Beyonce and the kind of woman she wants to be, and the woman people assume she is.
I think the hero-worship and fandom/standom is scary. But I actually respect Beyonce a great deal. I can respect anyone who is a hard worker and she really works at what she does and has high expectations, down to every detail. I think it’s safe to say, she pushes herself to new levels all of the time. If every fan decided to work at what they do with the same vigor, despite haters and negative talk about them, we would have a nation of very strong, capable people. If Beyonce can inspire women to be better and work harder, that’s the message that should get out there. But because people are so stupid, they take a lot of stuff at face value and they just want to be rich and beautiful and sexy. I love the fact that people of all cultures and mainstream and black magazines alike are really trying to dissect her latest album and discuss feminism and culture and how black women are looked at. There’s another article floating around that Beyonce isn’t for regular black women because she flaunts her wealth. What who and what is a regular black woman? After reading a powerful and sad article in the Washington Post about a woman waiting on her assistance on the 8th of every month and getting her children to apply for ebt cards so they can get more food for the family, that’s not me either. I’m not knocking that woman. But let’s face it. The world either wants me to be her, or Sharkeshia. They don’t even expect me to be Beyonce. That’s all we have. That’s mostly what the media wants to project us to be. I’m not even Michelle Obama, but I can still relate to her. And thank God she’s real. She’s not an actress, she’s a real person who worked hard, and achieved and landed in one of the most powerful houses in the land. But among those figures, it seems like black women don’t have much wiggle room and that bothers me. Because I know all kinds of black women. Funny, serious, silly, sexy. Hard-working. Impressive, quiet, loud, sensitive, courageous.
I appreciate the conversations Beyonce is generating. That says a lot about her influence. You can’t be mad at that. I’m not. She had all the intellectual black women going nuts at the fact she sampled Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s recent TED talk in her song “Flawless.” I went nuts too, because I recently watched that video the week before and loved everything that young woman said. I plan to purchase and read some of her books over the holiday.
That is not the move of a vapid, pop star. Something else is evolving as Beyonce matures and I’m probably going to like her music even more going forward, because even though I’m not a wealthy, beloved pop star and sex symbol, I’m a woman in my 30s, feeling more comfortable in who I am, and making firm decisions about how I define my life, and success and love. I better understand my value, my faults, what I know, what I don’t know. What makes me happy. What I need to leave alone and what I need to do to make my life fuller. That my inner voice is very real, and should have a significant vote.
I don’t like how people attack her for being proud of being a wife. Black women should want to have in tact families and be in healthy relationships where there is genuine love, respect and partnership. And even though I would have never seen it coming, she coming from a two parent upper middle class family and Jay, coming from the projects with a dad who left, their relationship should give folks hope that it can be done.
I don’t like the vitriolic hate and I don’t like the religion-like cult blind allegiance either. But that heifer works hard. She’s not Kim K. She works for everything she’s got. Period. And she continues to push herself. Bey could be lazy at this point. But nope. She was quoted saying she put this album out the way she did because she was “bored” with the traditional way it was done. She knew she had the power and the influence to just drop it. Surprise. She knows her fans, her brand and her product. Folks are scrambling. You know Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, they are all taking notes. Record company execs minds are blown right now. Who’s going to try it next? When you can have confidence and power to take risks, that’s real power. That’s higher level thinking. Regular broads won’t wrap their heads around it. That is being a bawse. That’s moving up from a 2000 focus to a 2013 elantra. LOL.
I don’t think I’m a stan. Because I don’t want to be Beyonce. But I salute any woman who is on her grind, who pushes herself even when she really doesn’t have to and inspires others to do the same. Do I feel sexy when I play her music? Yes. I like dancing around in my heels and panties and pretending I’m a vixen too and then I put on my clothes and go to work. I like that she’s saying as women we really do have a choice to be those things. As a journalist, I respect anyone who creates legitimate conversation on real things. And love her or hate her, the conversations have been created and will continue.