Beyoncé just dropped that fire... I mean for a while I was NOT a fan. But I guess it's time I dust off my Bey Hive wings and glitter crown because she came out the woodworks with a mean black power trap banger. I won't lie, I thought Bey was vapid and aloof and not paying attention in her glass tower; apparently I was wrong. She let everybody know that #blackgirlmagic is real.
I let my daughters hear the song, which led to the kids wanting to keep it on repeat. Then I showed them the video... Their eyes exploded. And then Big Sister said, "But mom, isn't this illegal?". In my mind, I said what?! Yes. She asked that question with sincerity and innocence.
She said "The stuff in her video, isn't that all illegal".
I almost cried. I think I do a decent job of reminding my girls we are black and proud but to hear my daughter say that a 'strong black female affirming, stop killing my people message' is illegal? That makes me sad... Real sad.
So fighting back tears I said, "Look... You're black. You're unapologetically black. If someone is uncomfortable with your awesome skin and your twisty hair, that's their problem not yours. So... Don't ever feel otherwise. This video conveys the message that our culture and who we are is not a point of shame or a point we should be annihilated for. You are unapologetically black. Always.".
She then asked well, "Why didn't they kill him? [at the end]". (In reference to the little boy doing a stand off with the police at the end of the video). Her question struck a nerve, because I think I do a good job of protecting my kids. I guess the semi-aggressive imagery was a point of confusion for her. I never want her thinking that respecting authority means cultural submission. I never want her to follow the rules so closely that she is willing to be destroyed because of fear. I want her and her sisters to feel empowered enough to speak truth and light if the moment arises. That's my job as their mother. Teaching black children to balance questioning authority with being a good citizen and person. I realized that this video came at a great time for my daughter, who has become more aware of her blackness as she sheds the innocence of childhood and begins to shape her ideology of her life and her place in the greater world.
There were so many unapologetically black moments in Bey's song and video. Here are a few lines that punched me in the face and made me think about my existence as a strong black mother and my responsibility to my girls...
"I like my baby's hair with baby hair and Afros..."
“I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils”
This line says it all… no real breakdown needed… but in case you didn’t know, there's been a movement in Hollywood to… well hide us I guess. The most recent is atrocity #OscarsSoWhite. And then there’s the movies that come out that tell our historic stories with out us in them at all… Movies killing blackness include: Exodus Gods and Kings, Moses, Gods of Egypt... and now this Mike Jackson movie coming out with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson.
So the most popular pop star ever, was now never black? Apparently this movie isn’t for us…. I guess our movie came out in 1992 and was titled “The Jacksons: An American Dream”. In protest I’ll be playing this on repeat. I recommend this, it was played on TV my entire childhood... Message: We see you Hollywood.
"Ok ladies now let’s get in formation...
Slay trick, or you’ll get eliminated"
Stop the ratchet presses! Look this is a direct message to my black ladies out here... Get your shit together or you'll get eliminated... Yes this is a dance reference but at the same time, let’s keep it 100… black female cultural heritage is trendsetting and hated at the same time. As Amandla Stenberg says, folks want to be black but don’t want the black struggle.
Because of this fact... we need to actually be more conscious of it and keep it moving. Nothing will change the trends of our society. Message: The Iggys and the Kim Ks will always be chasing your trail… Make money, keep being yourself, keep your head up and ... Keep slaying.
"You just might be a Black Bill Gates in the making…
I just might be a Black Bill Gates in the making…"
As soon as I heard this I thought of the Kwanzaa principle, Nia. Nia (Purpose) highlights our desire to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness. Yaaas Bey. Yasss. Supporting causes and investing in the future of the planet and the people on it, is essential to each and every one of our respective and collective legacies. Message: More people need to begin to believe in their heart that service and philanthropy (no matter how small) is fulfilling and important. We need to invest in ourselves collectively and invest in ourselves individually. Each of us can give. Stop wasting resources.
This music has me ratchet and conscious all at the same time and neither conflict in me. The video and the song work so well together and apart. But what's the real reason I love all of it??? When I grew up, music artists actually talked about stuff. They brought up real issues in their music. They used their microphones with purpose. "Formation" is a combination of nods... Yo-Yo, Salt & Peppa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, Arrested Development... Today most of the clowns we call "rap artists" dilute their power with weak comments that aggrandize their imaginary wealth through misogyny. Cough, cough, Kanye...
"Bey bettah WERK". Hopefully her new single proves that you can move the club, and the mind...
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.