As you can probably guess, I just watched homecoming and I have a lot of feelings.
For a quick second, I want to ignore the fact that Beyonce is one of the greatest entertainers to EVER do it. That she is the greatest living entertainer! I want to pretend to forget about that for a moment and focus on why Queen Bey is so important for Black women and if you disagree, I would like you to please drink your salty tears.
If you know me, or if you don't but you've read this far, then you probably know that I am a proud member of the #Beyhive. I am not 'track down the person who posted a negative comment on her picture' hive but I am definitely 'rethinking our friendship if you tell me that you think Beyonce is overrated' hive. That might seem a little extreme to some of you but it's not. I am a firm believer in real recognizes real and so when you tell me that you think the hard work and very careful planning that goes into Bey's live performances and music in general (Even if her music is not your cup of tea) does not match the response that she gets from her fans.
To that, I say: WOW! You is just a hater!
I am very aware that that sentence was ungrammatical but I felt like ebonics was the only way I could fully convey the fact that you really just have to be a hater to think that someone going through hours of rehearsals after a C section with complications does not deserve to be the #1 trending topic on twitter for a few hours at least.
Now, regardless of whether I am hive or not. I am a black woman. To be more specific, I am an African woman. Beyonce's homecoming performance at Coachella was all about presenting black american culture on a very white stage so that the world could share in it's beauty. Those who didn't know or understand HBCU culture were greatly entertained but those who know the history of 'lift every voice' and those badass drumlines- like me- probably teared up for a moment.
But the truth here, is that this performance touched on a lot more than just black american culture. As an african woman, I still felt seen by that performance in a way that I hope my daughter will feel when I make her watch this - Yes! You read that right. I have felt this way for a long time while following Beyonce's career here is why:
1. She is so elegantly ratchet with it.
Queen Bey keeps reminding the world that class and Hood can go together very well. That elegant and black are not mutually exclusive. We live in a world that has associated black culture and African cultures with poverty and a lack of sophistication when really, that is what we are made of.
Beyonce is what I like to call elegantly ratchet and proud of it. It's a beautiful thing and contrary to what many people think, it is not a rare thing. There are many of us who like to quote oscar Wilde and also like to twerk to some loud ass Nicki Minaj. We love to dance, hail our fellow black queens when they are killing it, wear expressive jewellery and we also like to have diverse interests that may or may not include "Bougie things".
So her choosing to have a black person get their cornrows done in front of the monalisa in a video is just... iconic feels like an understatement.
2. She is so Trailblazing with it.
Beychella was not Beyonce's entire discography but it was some of her biggest hits and in watching it, I realized that I literally grew up with this woman. I grew up listening to her as she was finding herself and discovering her own genius. From the days where I would do the 'say my name' dance in my training bra in front of my mirror with my hairbrush as a microphone to now relating to songs like 'all night'. She has been making hits like a factory during her decades long career. During that time, she has made it a point to not only change the way that the industry does things but also to open doors for other talented black women.
She makes it a point to hire black women when it matters.
The communications sector, like tech, entertainment and most other industries, has a diversity problem which is why Beyonce's publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, being black is a BIG DEAL. The Suga Mamas, beyonce's all female band is mostly made of black women. The members of the band have changed over the years but the concept remains the same. The director behind some of her most iconic videos, including Pretty Hurts, Diva, formation and Why Don’t You Love Me is a woman of color- Melina Matsoukas. Her pictures are taken by Raven B. Varona , another black woman.... I could go on but I think you get the point.
3. She is so diverse with it.
Did you see that Coachella team? There were dark women, light women, short women, tall women, slim women, thick women, Skinny men, fat men, dreadlocks, braids, 4c hair, 3a hair, straight weaves, cornrows, straight men, gay women.... just, she was serving variety. In the homecoming film she explains that she wanted every black person to see themselves on that stage and boy oh boy was it beautiful.
The media went from glorifying really skinny women to the hourglass body shape while pretending to be more body positive. That crew though, that was actual body positivity. When sis ( Didi Emah) came on stage, did her twirling number and then proceeded to shake that ass like nobody's business.... I clapped. I actually clapped! Not only because she really did completely murder that solo but also because she is not the typical body type for majorettes but here she was, proving that when given a chance, bigger short girls can do THAT!
4. She is so intentional with it.
I understand that one of the reasons Beyonce has been able to be so Blackity black black is because she doesn't look so blackity black black. Her creole features are very present ( As evident in her loosely curled blond hair and light skin tone) and so she gets light skin privilege. She gets to play the not so threatening black person and she has used that to tell people that the only thing there is to be afraid of is our greatness.
Beyonce has been able to go places that a darker woman with her talent and dedication probably would have never gotten to. Let's be real, Beyonce could easily be playing the white girl game right now and I would not be mad because she would probably win that too and still entertain the masses while doing so but instead, she chooses to use her stage to tell the stories of that darker woman amongst other minorities.
She isn't always subtle either.
Sometimes it's as simple as showing you mostly black faces in a crowd that was mostly white or citing typical black boy features when talking about the man of her dreams on destiny's child's soldier . Other times, it's as loud as playing fela for a bunch of white folk who came expecting to sing along to her more palatable songs.
Every detail in the homecoming movie was designed to showcase the beauty of the highly melanated. Every piece of the "4" album and tour was created in a way that inspired female empowerment. So much of the work that she has given us has been tailor made for a specific group of people and I love it!
5. She is hard working with it.
To summarize: Beyonce is black girl magic & one of the reasons she is so magical is because she keeps on showing people that our magic does not just... happen. Black girl magic is the blood, sweat and tears of all the melanated women that came before us, the hard work and the long hours that we put into perfecting our crafts and the arm workouts that we get when we have to do our hair.
In today's culture appropriating world, it is easy to add #Blackgirlmagic to your caption but black women are not unicorns. We are women who are constantly put down by society, disrespected by the men that we are taught to lift up our entire lives while someone else- often a kardashian life figure- enjoys the fruit of our labor. Despite this, we take the high road ( most times) and focus on perfecting ourselves.
Once in a while, one of us choses to use their gift and their magic to lift us just a little higher. These women are the Nina Simones, the Maya Angelous, the Diana Ross's and the Beyonces.
For everything she does to represent black women as the whole human beings that we are, she truly is the Queen Bey .