Yesterday morning, I was taking a shower thinking about Beyonce.
Don’t get any crazy ideas. I was daydreaming about some inconceivable moment where she and I were in New York at the same time. I did something nice for her without realizing it – tackling a purse snatcher or some such nonsense. (Because, you know, everyone in her posse was…in the bathroom…? Looking the other way?)
Somehow her schedule was open for the next two hours (yeah, right!). She wanted to pay me a reward for getting her purse back.
But I didn’t want her cash. I just wanted to talk to her. We had a conversation about my background and writing/VA business without me hyperventilating. (Not possible.) I wanted her to talk a few minutes with one of my blogging buddies, Javacia Bowser, who has always been a superfan. I weighed my options on how to tell her.
Should I just hand the phone to Beyonce and start chatting? No, she may be at work and could pass out. Should I call her husband first? No.
I decided on just telling her myself, asking her to take a few deep breaths because “a friend” wanted to talk with her.
The daydream (and my shower) ended somewhere around the part where Javacia was trying not to scream. It made me smile.
Then later on in the day, I heard about her new song and video “Formation,” and decided to check it out.
Someone used the word “subversive” to describe the video, and it certainly is. She’s perched atop a drowning New Orleans police car. There are images of a young black boy raising his arms up in front of a line of police officers.
And there’s plenty of what to expect from Queen Bey – epic choreography and even more epic costumes. I mean, wow.
But the lyrics?
Well, that’s a different story.
There have already been several blog posts floating around about the hidden “meaning” behind the lyrics. That she’s finally “returning to her roots,” and “embracing her blackness.”
Let’s forget the fact that she’s not really singing…she’s rapping, and the beat isn’t dance-worthy (although she looked amazing dancing to it).
Let’s talk about her “blackness.” The lyrics in particular:
I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Of course, she’s referencing her daughter Blue Ivy (whose adorableness makes an appearance in the video) and her husband, rapper Jay-Z.
Then there are these lyrics:
I twirl on them haters
El Camino with the seat low
Sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off, I go off
I go hard, I go hard
When he f— me good I take his a– to Red Lobster, cause I slay
First of all, who hates Beyonce? I’m joking of course, but it’s difficult as a fan of hers to imagine anyone being a “hater.” Her reference to the “Illuminati mess” in the lyrics was clever. Some crazies always like to associate celebs with the Illuminati and it always angered me.
But now…now after all of her hit records and essential world domination, now she’s “embracing her blackness?” I’ve noticed her progression to this kind of music over the years, and I was starting to feel alienated as a fan. This kind of clinched it for me.
If so, then I haven’t been black for years. Then again, many people think that way about me.
I shouldn’t have to say any of this, but now that this video has popped up, and with some of the comments, I’ve seen it’s time to finally get real about this.
“Yeah, I bet she’s a virgin. I bet she’s never sucked a dick in her life.”
This was just one of the many lovely phrases uttered loudly by my bully as I passed by on my way to journalism class in 10th grade. She made it her business to make my life miserable and ensure my place outside of the popular black folks in school. (Ironically, she’s now a Christian business coach, but hey, people can change, right?) At the time, I had dedicated in church to stay a virgin until marriage, so it stung.
In middle school, she berated me for having white friends, even though the school district was mostly white, and most of my black friends were at church.
A couple of years before the virgin comment, she and I went to a guidance counselor in some feeble attempt to make amends.
Clearly that didn’t work.
Now some of the commentary about “Formation,” is simply reminding me of this. How being bullied made me afraid of my own people. Sometimes I’m still afraid. Of judgment. Of side eye or whispers. My adulthood is still hampered by my “whiteness” to this day.
I didn’t have any close black friends outside of church until I graduated from college. Most of the black folks who weren’t bullying me either talked about me behind my back or felt sorry for me.
When I was dateless for the prom, someone suggested I ask one of the least popular black guys in high school. I guess that’s what I was worth?
Sometimes I still get scared. I’ll say something with my “New York white woman” accent to a black friend and feel my heart skip. (Yes, I’ve heard that before. I found that pretty funny as a kid.)
Everything I’ve read so far about “Formation” is about how the only people criticizing her work are either haters, not Southern or not a person of color.
Well, I really like Beyonce and I’m a Southern black woman. Will I be ostracized again?
Is it “white” of me to say I miss her Sasha Fierce days and her time with Destiny’s Child?
What if it’s simply because I’m not a fan of modern hip-hop? I despise Auto-Tune and like lyrics that don’t require an existential translation from an intellectual?
Oh, wait. That makes me “less black” too.
Beyonce is one of the greatest performers to ever grace the stage. I will always love her style, her grace and her sense of humor.
I’d totally tackle a purse snatcher for her. For real.
But the fact that we categorize ourselves to act a certain way, like a certain type of music, talk a certain way, and *that* is what it means to be black is simply pushing this kind of stereotype to other races.
Beyonce’s inner thug is finally out, so now she’s black and no longer under “white gaze?”
I’ve loved Beyonce’s blackness years ago. Why is it because she’s wearing her hair in braids, flipping off the camera and using foul language in her music has this become her emergence as a true black woman.
Why must I embrace this as an anthem for all Southern black women? I can’t. And I won’t.
My black experience was different. When the rest of the women in my family went shopping, I stayed in Radio Shack and played on the computers.
Sometimes my Mom would let me stay at the library for an entire day. It was heaven.
My best birthday moment involves getting Super Mario Bros. 3.
This doesn’t make me less black or somehow negates the instances of prejudice and racism I experienced.
I haven’t forgotten about my roots – about the struggles my parents went through living under a Jim Crow south.
There’s another conversation entirely about the “double-paned” glass ceiling black women face in their careers.
Let’s forget about all of the side-eye and inappropriate behavior from everyone for marrying a white man in Alabama.
My black card is barely existent, I suppose.
And that makes me hurt. Almost as much as the first time I was bullied in 7th grade.
But, hey, I love collards and cornbread, so that’s a plus, right?
What do ya’ll think of Beyonce’s new track? Do you think the rest of her new album will be similar? Have you ever been ostracized for not being “black enough?” Talk to me in the comments.