Friday, February 12, 2016
Come on, Bey! How come you be blonde?
Beyonce's new video and subsequent Super Bowl performance of "Formation" proves she was right. "You know you dat bitch when you cause all that conversation!" Indeed!! From NPR code switch to office lunch rooms to Facebook posts...everyone is talking! The song, especially when paired with the powerful images in the video, has been variously described as ~ 'slay-worthy', 'powerful', 'hilarious', an 'insult', 'provocative', 'anti-cop', an 'anthem', 'insulting', a 'glorification of blackness'. For me it is just as much the story of those left behind in the wake of Katrina, Black Lives Matter, and the injustices blacks have endured in our society as a tapestry of T and A, and wigs and weaves! As such it seems that I have the only question yet to be posed: Come on, Bey! How come you be blonde?
Katrina. That was back in 2005, y'all! The fact that portions of New Orleans remain filled with empty lots, abandoned and broken, houses covered with tarps....STILL...is unconscionable to me. The general lack of preparedness, the lackadaisical, ineffective management of government leaders before, during and after the storm, with a disproportionate number of blacks and poor communities left to suffer the most - remains a blot on our national history. The 45 bodies pulled out of Memorial Medical Center after the storm is a story of stupidity, injustice and medical malpractice that SHOULD haunt us all. This hospital lost power and supplies when the levees broke (Whole 'nother story there, peeps!!!) BECAUSE - despite knowing they lived in a city below sea level, despite the fact that within weeks of its opening in 1926, the hospital flooded!!!....in 2005....the generators and supplies remained housed in the frequently flooded basement!!!!! How is all of this okay?
How do we as a society fail to recognize and address the perpetuating nature of poverty, lack of education and opportunity, and its deleterious effects on minorities and marginalized communities? As Dostoevsky noted...after serving a little time..."You can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners." Clearly, that reflection starts with who we, as a society, imprison and why. The fact that the majority of folks arrested and imprisoned in this country are from minority groups cannot be an accident nor appropriate. There are good people and horrible people of every race, sex, creed, and color. To look at the penal system in the United States you would have to believe otherwise. The fact that a man walks free after killing an unarmed teen, while that man was armed with a gun - IN A VEHICLE - in "self defense"....says what exactly? About us? To us? For us? We should rectify our inequalities and the problems within our society that creates them! But, it's not easy is it?
It is far easier to carpet bomb something that seems very clear and different...foreign. It is easier to define the origin and horrors of Radical Islamic terrorists with their killing and mayhem inflicted on innocents on 9/11, in Paris and San Bernardino, than it is to face the good 'ol white boys with a Momma and a Daddy, often sitting at home with their Second Amendment arms, listening to hate stirring, free speech commentators, singing a siren song, who do the same: Dylan Roof - killed 9 praying in their church in South Carolina. Timothy McVeigh - responsible for 173 dead in Oklahoma City. James Holmes - 12 killed for watching a movie in Aurora. Adam Lanza - killed 26 elementary school children and teachers in Sandy Hook. Harris and Klebold - murdered 13 of their classmates at Columbine. Ted Kaczynski created terror by mailing bombs for 20 years!!!! I could go on...but I'm feeling ill. It is hard to carpet bomb the freaks of human nature when they live next door, isn't it?
We SHOULD decry exclusive old white men clubs! The KKK. The voting block for the Oscars. The United States Congress. ALL institutions should be judged on their merits and their reflection of the society they claim to represent. West Point allowed women entry only in 1980. In 2015, the first two women graduated from U.S. Army Ranger School and women held only 104 of the 535 seats in Congress. Still, the 114th Congress is the most diverse it has ever been, with non-whites making up 17% of its members though that is far from the 38% they constitute of the National population. Male blacks attained the right to vote in 1869. Even so, in 1940, only 3% of eligible African Americans in the South were registered. Women did not gain the right to vote until 1920! But, at some point, women and blacks have to recognize that we can't ask for equality and special treatment at the same time. I can't expect you to hold the door for me, cast your vote for me (Yes, I'm talking to you, Madeleine!!), allow me to join an elite branch of the military or enter the college of my choosing JUST because I am a woman. Rather, I deserve these things either on the basis of human kindness...one for another...or because I earned them. Similarly, while institutions like Ebony, BET, The Black Caucus American Library Association, Miss Black America, etc. all served a necessary and essential purpose in the fight for societal equality - there will come a time when the black community will have to reassess, as Howard and other institutions have done, whether their exclusivity remains deserved and appropriate - or simply an additional bastion of elitism and segregation.
"I like cornbreads and collard greens, bitch. Oh, yes, you best to believe it." Oh, yes, I do, girrl!!! Born and raised on beans and greens. Had some for supper just the other night. Yep. I know all about being BAMA!! Born and bred. I have traveled the world, read more than many, attained a Master's Degree, and remain proud of where I'm from. Like, Bey, I make no apologies for that. And, yes, there are those who after a look and a listen, dismiss my ability to retain thoughts or have something meaningful to say simply on the basis of my being a female with a southern accent. It used to bother me more. But now....it's their loss.
Finally ~ Bey, why you be blonde? Now understand, this is coming from a girl who ain't had her 'natural hair' for more than 20 years!!! But, I ain't been telling anybody to keep their natural fro and nose either! And, girl...you know you can't find 24+ amazing dancers with their hair 'natural' and cut just so!!! Just say'n!!
In the end, I think 'Formation' and its hubbub is a good thing. No matter which side of the discussion you fall on....even if it's a little bit on both....Beyonce got us talking. Let's hope we all start doing something, too.
Cause: "I slay, OK, I slay, OK. We gon' slay, slay. Gon' slay, OK. We slay, OK!" - c