Yesterday marked the first day of the shortest month of the calendar year-also known as Black history month. Black history month functions to cure the social amnesia evoked from the other eleven months out of year. Months that work to convince blacks that their other attributes like gender, sexual orientation e.t.c. prove more significant, and that referencing blackness is “race baiting” or “dated.” However on the first day of this understatement of a celebratory month, much of the black collective relished in Beyonce’s pregnancy rather than in the historic black leaders that made Beyonce even a possibility let alone a superstar. This moment, while disappointing if not embarrassing, illustrates the willingness to dilute our perilous journey with minuscule if not irrelevant news that deflects from “our” story.
Beyonce. While caricatured to resemble a white woman with a black female body, exists as a contemporary Wonder Woman for many black females. She’s beautiful, talented, passionate and inspiring. However, Beyonce’s popularity stems from an escapism implemented by those who wish to overlook the racial realities and opt for a fantasy instead.
It’s must easier to celebrate someone like Beyonce because she does not spark deep contemplation or challenge western comfort. Celebrating journalist Ida B. Wells prompts the masses to revisit the horror of lynching. Even to celebrate actress Dorothy Dandridge, forces us to revisit the tragedy of being a glamorous leading lady where the world wanted you scrubbing tables. Perhaps more importantly, revisiting these historical figures forces the consumer to realize that not much has changed.
Yet to believe in Beyonce appeases the general the desire for change. Fans revel in her career, overlooking the hyper sexuality, blonde weaves and choreographed thrusts that fostered its longevity. Instead, they live vicariously through this wealthy and beautiful black female body who seemingly exists beyond the racism that encompasses our past and present. Beyonce— a product of white imagination handed to the black female as a savior, is a crucial component of“his story ” functioning as a distraction veiled by false inspiration.
Singing “Run the World” allows fans to run away from blackness. Suddenly the issues that plague the black female body become simplified to “women” issues. While black female bodies jump and scream in support of this tune they appease Beyonce’s mainstream efforts of inclusion, simultaneously reducing their war to a dance battle. Furthermore, the song prompts fans to raise their fists in female, not black, solidarity. Thus, although a black female, Beyonce asks of her fans what the western world demands of black females–to endure a journey to womanhood and render blackness secondary.
When wailing on “Drunk in Love,” fans indulge the bliss of ignorance in a melodic intoxication. Even Beyonce’s latest studio album Lemonade, which takes strides towards consciousness, placates the vulgar, hyper sexual, and simplicity that substantiates white perception of black females. This not only unveils Beyonce as a fantasy, but a white fantasy projected onto blacks to induce both escapism and psychological enslavement.
Beyonce is perhaps the greatest demonstration of why Black history in title is a problem. Black history in presentation functions as a facet of whiteness because his story can never be our story. His story has two functions, to destroy and ultimately eliminate the black body. Thus, “our story” functions to not only encapsulate blackness, but to eliminate white influence of who we were and who we will be. Figures caricatured to dictate the necessary traits to foment white superiority have no place in “our story.”
“Our story” figures incite action, “History” figures incite a fictive nostalgia that deters action and contemplation.
So while I congratulate Beyonce on her two new additions, her fertility has no place in the forefront of “our story.” To the western world, Beyonce is black history because she prompts us to ignore what we need to actually acknowledge and ultimately overcome our systemic injustices. Beyonce symbolizes the very oxymoron of black history– her as a black woman with blonde hair and black history in suggesting that “his story” is even fractionally black. Black History in concept functions to distance the African in America from their indigenous roots in exchange for American status.
To implement “our story” rather than ” his story” the black collective unveils figures of white imagination like Beyonce as the sweet poison they are. Instead “our story” looks past Beyonce to ancestors like Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Frederick Douglass, Fanny Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evans, George Jackson, James Baldwin and many others.
Beyonce, a racial centaur, possibly illustrates the fate of our ancestors if we fail to acknowledge them. Our African ancestors easily become American if we are not the ones to preserve their memory. Moreover, today’s escapism is tomorrow’s erasure.
How will you celebrate “our story?”