Black is King, A Black Female Perspective

Beyonce’s Black is King delivers an aesthetically pleasing cultural collage. From waterfalls to regal braiding, the film captures the pure beauty of black people who occupy both central and peripheral spaces in the film. The music also engenders a Pan-Africanist sound that melds the diaspora together in a melody as diverse a the colors of the black diasporic palette.

While a plethora of gorgeous images inundates the film, the film’s apex comes in the visual rendition of “Brown Skin Girl.” This visual rendition features Adut Akech, Naomi Campbell, Lupita Nyong’o, Kelly Rowland, and both of Beyonce’s daughters. Between Blue Ivy’s solo, the brown-skin-glow that dominates the footage, and the image of black female camaraderie, the video is a brilliant portrait of the love between black women. This portrait, in conveying a rarely captured beauty, proved particularly resonant.

However, despite the emotional experience “Brown Skin Girl” incites, the irony of the film is not lost in the lure of representation.

By irony, I speak specifically to the reality that though Beyonce is a black woman, and I credit Beyonce with owning her blackness before it was cool, she pandered/panders a European aesthetic to black women. Thus, it is ironic, and in the best interest of the white media, to select such a star to popularize blackness in this “black lives matter” moment. Similarly, Beyonce and Jay-Z (who makes an unsurprising cameo in the film) emege as models for black success, who attain a distorted black royalty draped in the white man’s riches and adorned with a favorable western gaze, illuminate what true black power will never be: popular. At best, those seeking to see images like themselves will get ironic representations, like Black is King, that reek of an imperialistic informant.

Additionally, it is ironic that the same attributes that propelled Beyonce into stardom are now draped in fabric from the continent and employed to proclaim blackness as beautiful. This image repeats the pervasive contemporary caption that posits blackness as mattering under specific circumstances.

Beyonce’s repurposed image proves less sinister than the fact that Black is King is modeled after The Lion King, a popular children’s film with notable racial undertones. Additionally, the film is on Disney plus. Walt Disney, was, of course, a racist whose films played an integral role in implementing racial stereotypes in the minds of young children. Disney’s influence gifted children prejudices to internalize and project into their adult realities. Thus, though marketed as “for the black collective,” this film mimics the continued use of the black body to imbue economic profit for racists. Moreover, what viewers witness in Black as King is not blackness at all, but a blackness distorted by the white imaginary and white commodofication of color into commerce.

This profit is not just economical, it encompasses a social and symbolic component integral to maintaining race as a social inheritance. Black is King surfaces to mollify racial tensions with representational comfort. Black as King holds hands with the “Black Lives Matter” murals and other performative gestures that paint representation as reparations. These images posit white supremacy as negotiated through optics that appear to represent a new America. These images coddle those seeking to see themselves in the white man’s portrait into a complacency where they feel like they have accomplished what they have never even attempted. Thus, Black is King exists to provide a cataclysmic comfort that projects a changed world where whites continue to win in what seems like a victory for the black collective. This charade reminds me of my engagement with cyclical rides as a child. On these rides, I would wave to my parents every time I saw them as if seeing them for the first time. The behavior mirrors what the white media continues to do to the black collective, imposing old evils as nuance to veil a cyclical reality.

While “Brown Skin Girl” captures the film’s most resonant images, the most poignant line from the film comes in the beginning. Beyonce states: “someday you will see yourself where you started.” This line resonates as it articulates the importance of origin. Taken at surface level, the film embodies this truth through Beyonce who has, over the last few years, morphed into her mother’s clone. This individual transformation personifies the process that we experience collectively. We are bound to become our past, but if we start from a point of disruption, as engendered by the white media, and not heirs of a throne that predates western civilization, we become hegemonic property to be bought and sold by those who use our blackness to cast their bids.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay-Z and Beyonce are nothing more than slaves to the white man; the same as the rest of us. We never made it off the plantation. Their chains are golden and extend further than ours, but make no mistake, her depictions of Black people are as deceptive as the white man has always been and always will be. The white man can always find Black folks to lift up and get other Black people to look to them for representation of all of us when ‘their’ representation of us is not even true. There are few Black people, compared to how many who are in Amerikkka, that the white man has ‘favored’ with fame and fortune and if they make a wrong move, their ass will be grass along with the rest of us. The white man shows us everyday that what he has allowed to rise, so will he make fall, whenever the mood strikes. And regardless of how BIG Jay-Z and Beyonce’s bank accounts get, the white man still makes more money off their bullshit than they ever will. To me, they are both sell-outs who I would never give a dime to and for Beyonce to get in bed with Disney is akin to me begging to play the part of a white man’s bed wench in a slave movie. I have no respect for either one.

    And if they don’t believe that they can be brought to their knees, they can just ask Bill Cosby about that. Ask Lauryn Hill and Wesley Snipes about sitting up in prison over unpaid taxes while whites get off scot free for doing far worse. They can’t ask Michael Jackson since he is dead. They can’t ask Whitney Houston, for the same reason. And when the whites have gotten everything they can get out of Jay-Z and Beyonce, they’re going to get the same. And they can bank on that.

  2. Guilded Rage says:

    I’ve never been a fan; both Jay-Z & Beyoncé sold their souls to the Synagogue of Satan a long time ago!

    Michael Jackson had white folks and black folks, people of all genders, religions, from all walks of life, from the indigent to nobility screaming, fainting and in tears more than Beatlemania! He was a real African King & a modern day equivalent of Jesus walking on water (Moonwalk) without performing a single note! This is relatively recent history in the grand scheme of things. Even Prince and Bowie didn’t have that level of worship. Clearly, white handlers have chosen Beyoncé & Jay-Z to force happiness in slavery Noahidism upon the black masses. Despite fan appeal, ZERO comparison can in quality or talent can be made here with new kid on the block Beyoncé! She’s only a force to be reckoned with in the sea of mediocrity that is the current entertainment industry.

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