You all are fully aware of my fandom for Beyonce Knowles-Carter. I’ve openly admitted it on this blog, my Instagram, and if you know me beyond the internet I’ve expressed it in person. My dreams of meeting Beyonce have heavily depended on finding my way into her inner circle via either Tina (her mom) or Solange (her baby sister). I’ve kept up with both over the years (following them on Twitter and Instagram) just biding my time for my one opportunity to become that new family friend at all the fun life events.
What I didn’t know would happen is that Solange would reel me in with tantalizing images of a carefree black girl for a project I instantly became intrigued with. When A Seat at the Table dropped, the invigorating life that was breathed into my soul was monumental to my existence as a black woman in America today. What makes this album even more groundbreaking is that this past weekend, it was placed front and center of mainstream America when Solange performed two of her songs on Saturday Night Live. That accomplishment alone is surreal for a black girl who basically has put her heart, soul, and passion into placing the plight of African Americans at the forefront.
I did it with Lemonade and it’s only fitting to do it with A Seat at the Table – here are 5 truths for black millennial women from Solange’s album that we all can take to heart. Start a conversation, lift your head a little higher, and carry yourself like the truth queen we deserve to be treated as.
Walk in your ways, so you won’t crumble (Rise)
This is probably the stage in my life where I can most relate at this time in my life. I’m constantly being tested as a black woman in America not only by strangers who don’t know the first thing about me, but those that I consider friends. What I have learned is that I need to remain steadfast in walking in my own truth so I can keep myself together.
And, “Do you belong?”
I do, I do (Weary)
A question that I constantly asked myself growing up and well into my adulthood as sad and hard that is to admit. I never felt comfortable enough with embracing the fact that I am just as worthy as a black woman than any other woman. It was hard when you are reminded on television, magazines, and other outlets that your beauty was never the normal. It was a weariness that carried heavy on my heart until I learned to truly love myself, heritage, and the chocolate hue of my skin.
I ran into this girl, she said, “Why you always blaming?”
“Why you can’t just face it?”
“Why you always gotta be so mad?”
I got a lot to be mad about (Mad)
The story of my life. The plight of every angry POC who has ever had to face their truths from people who just will never get it. It was a discussion I had a length with my white husband as we discussed the reasoning behind the way I am about different passions of mine. As much as people try to deny it, people of color have a lot to be mad about. We want to believe we live in this world that so much has changed, but we still have so much more work to do. Denial isn’t an option, but it’s even more cumbersome when you are constantly questioned for your disbelief in the behavior of people.
Don’t touch my hair
When it’s the feelings I wear
Don’t touch my soul
When it’s the rhythm I know
Don’t touch my crown
They say the vision I’ve found
Don’t touch what’s there
When it’s the feelings I wear (Don’t Touch My Hair)
Since childhood the hair on my head alone has been a fascinating conversation piece for everyone who meets me. Any time I changed it, the questions of why? how? does it hurt? is it yours? plagued me as I struggled to keep up with the constant need (at the time) to explain how I left school with short hair on a Friday and come back on Monday with long braids down my back. Of course, now that my hair is in its natural state all the time – the fascination and opinions are real. People want to touch it, let me know what they like and don’t like, and basically stigmatize me for wearing my hair in an “unprofessional manner.” You read that right, because its happened. It’s my hair, my soul, the one piece of me that makes me stand out with pride. My dad always told me to cherish my hair since it was my crown as a queen, but it took me some years to finally embrace that. Don’t touch it. Don’t be insensitive about it. Just appreciate it.
I think part of it is accepting that it’s so much beauty in being Black and that’s the thing that, I guess, I get emotional about because I’ve always known that. I’ve always been proud to be Black. Never wanted to be nothing else. Loved everything about it, just…
It’s such beauty in Black people, and it really saddens me when we’re not allowed to express that pride in being Black, and that if you do, then it’s considered anti-white. No! You just pro-black. And that’s okay. The two don’t go together. (Tina Taught Me, Spoken Word)
Confession: I printed this spoken word piece out and placed it in my journal. I plan on making more copies to keep in places as a reminder that at no point should I have ever in my life been ashamed to be a black woman. I distinctly remember a time when I was in elementary school, out on the playground with friends and two white girls told me that I couldn’t play as Mary Kate and Ashley because my skin was too dark. That night I went home, took one of the hottest showers, and remember scrubbing feverishly at my skin trying to someone make myself lighter. Make myself prettier. Make myself more acceptable to the world around me. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was finally comfortable with my blackness. When I finally embraced that fact that being black is beautiful and I deserve to love/appreciate everything about it. The first time I heard this spoken word from Ms. Tina, I cried. I cried because for so many years I allowed so many others to steal the beauty in my blackness. They took away my pride and the definition of who I am as a person in America. This was my reminder that over these last few years, it’s ok for me to see the beauty in myself. To allow myself that pride in being a black woman and that doesn’t make my love for my white husband any less significant. I am pro-black and it’s ok.
This album has been on heavy repeat, which is crazy because I never imagined outside of Adele and Beyonce I would play an album nonstop. Well, Solange did it. She did it. It was extremely hard to narrow my truths down to these lines, but at the end of the day just remember – to never let anybody steal your magic.