There is no way around it–Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter is taking over the planet.
I am astounded every time I see her perform, I am amazed. Even Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in the dedication for his latest book, The Tears We Cannot Stop, mentioned her and her dynamic talent along with her stage presence. I was a Destiny’s Child fan, supportive of her solo career and with LEMONADE? I submitted my (late) application to the BeyHive.
I’m. Just. Saying.
What I have always loved about her, through her career is her unabashed blackness. Even with her fair esthetic, and her Creole-New Iberia ancestry, she has never not denied any part of her that was, is, will always be black. The beautiful thing I saw at Coachella, and on her last world tour before the birth of her twins, was the diversity of the women of color around her. Her dancers are every hue along this magical melanin spectrum. As popular as Beyoncé is, as easy as it is to rule her Queendom by the power of money and colorism, she doesn’t. As easy as it would be to only have one hue of dancer with her, she doesn’t. As minute, as mundane as that detail is, it should be a focus. And here is why:
There is a black woman with a Eurocentric look, and able to walk into spaces as a full economic participant, able to orchestrate any vision that she has. In that orchestration, she is able to assemble the people she wants around her.
That is powerful. It is a reminder that I am still a black woman, and as a black woman, I represent black women–no matter the esthetic.
In the midst of her April 2018 Coachella appearance, amidst all the unregretable blackness, HBCU magic, I thought would Beyoncé be seen as this talented, this epic and this grand if she wasn’t light skinned.
The example I point to is Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald. Both women could sing and were drenched in talent–but because Lena was lighter, she seemed to always have an edge over Ella, who was darker. It was never about the presentation of talent, but the white acceptance of a black talent along a melaninated spectrum: enter the ruler straight hair- brown paper bag test. See that here.
That question made me so sad when I ruminated on it. I began to wonder for all the amazing she had done, for all her talent, for all her power, could that have been stymied if she were darker-skinned? That thought made my heart ache.
As a black woman, I am proud of Beyoncé. I am inspired to do more to build, do and to serve. It reminds me that colorism doesn’t define me, does not stymie me, and will not separate me from my heritage. I understand that colorism is a real system, with real consequences, and my reactions to those consequences determine how colorism will be conquered or perpetuated!
Colorism is insidious to the confidence of black women. It strips us of any sense of self, allowing our value to be determined by something uncontrollable and outside forces uncontrollable. Our value is beyond skin deep, beyond talent and we are worthy of love, respect and personhood. Black Girl Magic transcends skin tone. From Redbone to the deepest Ebony tones, black women are gorgeous–and we need to remember that. The world can’t stop us–only we can.