Of course I like Beyoncé. It feels like everyone likes Beyoncé, though I can’t really tell if it’s just because of some sort of weird obligation. Every time she does something, my Twitter timeline explodes, but I eye it with this vague sense of interest. I click on links because it’s Beyoncé. She’s obviously doing something cool, but I don’t freak out.
I always thought that was because my heart is made of stone, but maybe not.
I was trying to explain this to a few of my friends the other day, when I was on the receiving end of a full-blown lecture (via text, of course) about how I should’ve seen the “Formation” video the minute after it came out, how it was so black-positive and how Beyoncé was fabulous, as always. Even when I was getting texts and tweets about her during the halftime show, I honestly didn’t care.
But we need to talk about what happened when I finally watched that video.
Before, Beyoncé was sort of like this mystical aunt who somehow escaped and was able to become royalty. Someone whose music I listened to because it was good music.
I sat and stared at my computer screen for a good full minute after the video ended. My dad says I talk about crying a lot in the things that I write, but I actually didn’t cry after finishing the video (which I watched over and over again). Instead, I stayed up until three in the morning.
I read about Beyoncé’s rise to power, as I like to refer to it. I saved quotes she’d made about work and ambition and goals. All I could think about were the lyrics to that song.
“I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it.”
“You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.”
It could’ve just been the delirium brought on from lack of sleep, but I started to see why people loved Beyoncé so much — or at least one of the reasons why.
I’m a person with lofty dreams, ambitions I think are sometimes too big for my 5-foot-1 frame. But Beyoncé … I feel like she understands it. She understands finding something that you want to do and working toward it for years without knowing if it will work out. Now she has it (and more).
If I can’t even get other people to admit that there are injustices happening to me, things that they can’t see, why would I be able to become a filmmaker? A writer? Who would take me seriously? They don’t take other black women seriously.
Beyoncé is always talking about how hard she works, but she doesn’t even need to, because we all see it so clearly. This woman built her empire from the ground up. She said that she wanted to be able to do whatever she wanted by the time she was 30, and she did it. By herself.
If you could look at the world through my eyes and see how white everything is, maybe it would be a bigger deal.
If you asked any of my friends, or scrolled through my Twitter feed, or even saw me walking around my neighborhood with my “I Love My Blackness” hoodie, you would know that I love blackness. I love it so much that I can’t put it into words. Ta-Nehisi Coates once called us a “tribe,” and I agree. The best part is that blackness isn’t a monolith. Everyone is black in a different way, but our tribe is one of the things that bring us together.
The thing is, though, I didn’t always love my blackness with a passion. There have been times where I didn’t even like it, period. It makes me feel horrible, but I’m just learning to love this part of me. It’s not even a part — blackness is so much of who I am.
There are still parts of me, though, that feel unsure. Uncomfortable. Maybe it’s not a lack of love for myself and my tribe, but instead a realization that not everyone in my world loves my blackness. That there are some people who don’t even like my blackness, who refuse to recognize it.
Look, it’s Black History Month. I’ve been trying to celebrate, but it honestly feels like I’m more excited than anyone else in my life is. People are talking about the presentation we’ll have at school with rolls of their eyes. After that, the month will be over, really.
“Formation” is proof that the things I hope for exist. Proof that I can speak out about things that are plaguing black Americans in an artistic and beautiful way. Proof that a black woman can build an empire for herself. That her daughter would be seen as gorgeous. That there would be no question of Beyoncé’s power.
And that’s the best celebration I could’ve asked for.
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