A Review: Why We Needed “Black Is King”(Part 1).

“Step out of your estimate and into your essence.”

I downloaded The Gift, the comparison Beyonce album to The Lion King live-action remake. I loved the album, and Key To The Kingdom, Spirit and Find Your Way Back are my favorite songs! The whole album is a vibe, really. Being totally honest with you all, after LEMONADE? I became a Beyonce Stan. I work part-time and weekends at the BeyHive.

But, what has impressed me about her, what made me become a Stan, is her raw talent and willingness to challenge herself–and in that challenging, to let us see only what we need to see. And, like all good artists, she wants us to see ourselves. I have seen and listened to her become more herself, more confident and self-assured as an artist. She is no longer just Beyonce that was the lead in Destiny’s Child! Like she said in HOMECOMING, the world wants Black women to just stay in their little boxes. Well, Black women don’t really do that–and have never stayed in boxes well.

Not ever.

The world, all vain and White-seeking, wants to relegate anything which is non-White, not White-seeking, to a box designated for erasure. We as minority people, especially Black people, need to be able to see ourselves as we are, as we must, as we have always been. Black Is King is a loveletter…to us! Every depiction in this film is positive, is beautiful, is detailed and brilliant! Every aspect of this film, from the significance of colors, to how she wore her hair, to the languages (yes, LANGUAGES!) she sang in. No detail is overlooked!

You have to appreciate the time and detail it took for her to compile this, to do this, to release this! The film is a masterpiece, rich with symbolism, clearly made with a love for a culture, and a people. The artists that were featured on the album were in the film as well for their respective parts! Why? Real artists, like real leaders, know you build as you climb. You leave keys, maps and ladders so that those after you have a path and a way up and out!

I watched this film with my daughters. I watched as my youngest, fascinated by all things creative, watched in rapt attention. I watched her see herself on screen. And her eyes lit up. It was the same light that I had once I found out I could create worlds from thought–the first time a saw a Black Barbie doll. It was a stirring that I am sure my baby girls felt as they watched this woman they had only seen in sips and pieces create a lovenote for them.

Especially for them.

As I heard the words of Waran Shire come through the vessel of Beyonce’s voice, it was a confirmation of the power of words and the visibility of myself in print. I sat straighter as I watched. I sang and danced around my living room, feeling myself light up from the inside. You see, according to African mythology, all the stories of the world belong to Anasi The Spider. In being a storyteller, in being a writer, I am only doing what my ancestors did. Gathering wisdom, gathering strength, and giving it as gifts for those who need it. I am doing my celestial assignment. I am doing what I was purposed on Earth through the mind of God to do. And for that reminder, I am grateful.

We as a people needed this film. We needed to see ourselves as we have always been. We have always been great, despite people and time and circumstances! There is never a bad time to remember who you are. There is, and will never be, a bad time to remind your children who they can become.

For this love letter, thank you, Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, mother of Blue, Rumi and Sir. Thank you.

Note: If you enjoyed the film, please consider becoming a supporter of the poet Waran Shire (she did the poetry for Lemonade too!). All her work is on Amazon, especially her most noted, Teaching My Mother To Give Birth. Thank you.

The Matter of Blue Ivy Carter

Before anything else, I need y’all to understand she is a Black girl. And I will not tolerate any disrespect or denigration to her or her mother, or her father. You will be put off this site. -JBH

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I have never understood why the world hated this little girl so much. I mean to the point that the world had something to say even about how her mother styled her hair. I have never, ever understood that.

I, having grown up as an ABG (Awkward Black Girl), I was teased for being smart, tall, too Black, too quiet–everything. And that type of thing is not easily conquered (that God for these 26 letters–they have been salvation more than once). But as it relates to Blue, Shawn and Beyonce’s daughter, the world cannot seem to shake the expected aesthetic it wants for this child.

Enter the fetishism of Black women and girls.

As of this month, Blue Ivy Carter is 8. She’s eight.  I have stayed away from this internet debacle because I thought is drivel and stupid! The ability for a Black girl to be aesthetically pleasing to the world around her allows her safe passage through it. What does this mean you ask? If so, I am so glad you did.

The world does not like when the monolith it constructs for Black women and girls is challenged. It does not like to be both sientent and flexible. As Dr. Brittney Cooper says in her book Eloquent Rage, “Sass is an acceptable form of rage.” The world loves to see us either as model gorgeous like Iman (whom is riding age like nothing known of this world) or like Fannie Lou Hamer. There is no space to differentiate. No space to just be–you are constantly picked at, prodded and told with a smiles on faces exactly what you are not. Or can ever hope to be.

Blue, sadly, is not an exception to this.

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The thing I hope, the thing that grants me such a hope, is the fact her mother and father know exactly who they are–and will not allow her to be anything less than what she is. In a side by side comparison, she looks like her mother–as most daughters do. How dare Blue’s genetics not make her a pretty Octoroon or gazelleesque Creole Barbie? How dare Blue’s genetics produce a phenotype that look like her father first!

To me, I think that’s who she looked like first–and now she looks more like her mother.

From her hair, to how she dressed to how she looked–the world had something to say. Only now, is that beginning to calm down. That calm, quite frankly, is unsettling to me. It’s almost like the wolves have gone further down the path, waiting for her to turn 15, 16–that’s when the extra lewd, trifling comments will come. On queue.

Ask me how I know.

But the difference between myself, my daughters and Beyonce and hers are exposure, visibility and money. I am of the insistent persuasion that raising a child, whom navigates this world as Black and female, is to have a hypervigilance paired with a empathetic compassion.

You have to both shield, protect all while you equip her to deal with a world that may never accept her as she is–and be okay with that. That is hard. I cannot imagine how had that is when you have cameras, bodyguards and the paparazzi is a daily an occurrence as pouring cereal.

Let Blue be. Just let her be.

Her parents allow her to be seen when they want her to be seen. They understand their role as parent and protector. They also understand (or should understand) that precarious position of being uber-visible in and around Black culture:  everything they do is monitored or scrutinized. Including the kids.  What I love, what grants me hope, is they give and have given her space to be herself. She has space to grow, and do, and be and it is glorious. They are raising her, and radically loving her. These elements will ensure Blue will have a sense of self that is not determined by likes, shares or other articles shared on blogs or other social media platforms.

In 2020, can we resolve to love all Black girls the same way? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[first image from PageSix.com, second from eonline.com]

No, Queen Bey Didn’t Have To Stand Up. We Do.

Our Beloved Queen makes even being an a firestorm hella elegant.

With that said, let me say something else first. I didn’t watch the 2020 Golden Globes because I think Ricky Gervais is a more palatable form of the demon Screwtape in the C.S. Lewis book, The Screwtape Letters. Life is hard enough–I don’t need extra shenanigans which is both toxic and crazy-making.

Now, as pumped as I was for Joaquin Phoenix, to win Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture for JOKER, I was irritated to know the world seemed to be mad (again) that Beyonce did what she wanted to do. She chose not to stand when Joaquin’s name was announced.

According to The Griot, she did clap, but she did not stand. Beyonce was in attendance because her song, Spirit (from the album The Lion King: THE GIFT), was nominated for Best Original Song. Now, Joaquin stans are mad she didn’t stand, and insulting her acting ability. Okay. Whatever. But here’s what isn’t talked about:  sis had been drinking, and her dress was huge and maybe standing wasn’t what she really wanted to do. The doper part? The writer of The Griot article, Dawn Onley, can tell you:

She and Jay-Z came to the award ceremony with two bottles of Ace of Spades champagne, also known as Armand de Brignac, the champagne company that Jigga bought out back in 2014, according to Cosmopolitan. Their bodyguard carried the alcohol in for them.

So not only did Bey not stand, they were drinking, they were drinking. And they were also promoting their interests.

Win-win.

I get why the world hates Beyonce. And yet, she moves in grace despite of it! The thing that irritates me the most is people believing she should have stood up–because that’s just what you do at these events. She should be grateful to be in this space, right? She should just do as all the others do–Beyonce is in Rome, right? Do as the Roman do, right?
No.
This is the consistent issue surrounding Black people in White Spaces. The expectation is that all be done to the Master’s specificity:  no deviation, no independent thought. And definitely no room for plain ol’ ‘I just don’t want to.’
The other issue that needs to be address–which I try my best to bring attention to constantly–is this idea of invading White Spaces with more Black people! Any space a Black woman or man inhabits is already a Black Space. It cannot just be those at the intersections of Black, wealth and privilege to negotiate the terms of acceptability. It cannot just be expected that the interest of the unfortunate many be delegated to the advantageous!
We all can do something–we need to stop expecting other people to force that visibility.
Besides, Black women been standing/serving/fighting since our feet touched the waters of these shores called the Americas. I wouldn’t have stood up either.

Of Course ‘They’ Snubbed Beyonce! And Here Is Why.

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Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is becoming a force of nature, with her Sara Baartman hips. From a pretty young woman with this power in her throat and heart, to this dynamic, sentient, vibrant, and culturally aware and present Black woman. Isn’t this what an icon is supposed to be –and become?

I have watched her progression from Destiny’s Child to her own grown woman. While not signing on or applying to the Beyhive, but I do work PRN for it. I have cheered her, been a Stan of hers–officially–after the release of Lemonade. After the experience of listening to Lemonade.

There was a pure pride I carried for her. Not a worship, not a reverence. But a pride. The same pride I felt when I learned that Cleopatra was Black. That Queen Nzinga was not a figure of my imagination. That Queen Hatshepsut became a Pharaoh due to sheer wit and brilliance. It was a sense of knowing there is a woman who looked like me–not bound by narrow societal imagination.

Although she wears the privilege granted to the beautiful, the cis-het and wealthy, Beyoncé is still a Black woman in an industry dominated by White men. The people that create award shows like the Emmys and Academy Awards, do not resemble the men that look like Beyoncé’s father.

For all her achievements, all her influence, for as far as her reach, she is still a Black woman. Playing a rich, White man’s game–laced with avarice and malice. Which chokes out love.

Knowing this, I am not surprised she was snubbed for an Emmy this hear. I am not, was not, shocked when she lost the Grammy for album of the year to Adele!

For all her power, the industry fears her. Those she inspires behind her. They fear her.

This light-skinned, country-talking, beautiful Black woman, descended from slaves, Texas plantation soil and Louisiana Creoles–is one of the most influential Black women in history.

In. History.

And money has not taken her Blackness. It has not refined her speech, vision or daily reminder that she is both Black and woman.

Why would the owners of the master narrative acknowledge such an accomplishment? The fierce representation and preservation of culture!

Why would the master acknowledge the slave?

The worlds and spheres Beyoncé’s inhabits, that she orbits, she spins, are still determined to remind her of limitations. Her weaknesses. How Black everything about her is, and how detrimental Black motherhood and mogul persists are!

How acknowledgment is equivalent achievement. That should be good enough.

Separate, but equal.

In the face of that, Beyoncé still creates. She still makes space. She now Mama and Nala and the creative power of The Gift. This is the resilience of Black women. The wisdom of the artist is what James Baldwin admonishes: “The goal of the artist is to disturb the peace.”

The wealth and worth of an artist is, nor will ever be, measured by people to whom they differ. The value of their work will not be held on the high esteem of people–haters and critics–insistent on ignoring it.

The wealth and worth of artists is most often awarded through the grace of time. The earnest nature of creativity. Through harsh critique becoming acknowledgement. As it was said by John Wilmot, the brilliant (and debauched) Second Earl Of Rochester in the movie The Libertine (portrayed by Johnny Depp):

“Your critics will come in two forms. The stupid and the envious. The stupid will love you in five years. The envious never will.”

Let time factor which we all will become.

[images from Netflix, Apple Music and Pinterest]