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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On Beyonce, white women, feminism and privilege...

Although Beyonce's stunning and groundbreaking new album is getting rave reviews from many feminists, there are some who seem to be clinging to the unaware racism and neglect of women of color that led to this year's #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen movement started by the brilliant Mikki Kendall.

Last night, I got pissed off and a bit inspired and wrote this rant on Twitter. Take it for what you will. After writing it, I noticed a few mistakes here and there, but I'm largely proud of it. It felt good to put down. After reading through it, a Latina friend of mine encouraged me to make a blog post out of it.


  1. Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. The only thing I'd like to add…. (And this is a point coming from my black girlfriend)…. is that Beyonce is basically white. She does not embody her natural heritage, her natural beauty. Her skin is always lighter and processed, she has blond straightened hair, etc. I'm not so sure she is a great role model for black girls, I mean, all that she is empowered by is her sexuality and her money - reinforced by a capitalist (patriarchal) system. To me, she does not stand out as revolutionary or powerful, because she is a PRODUCT, to make money, just like a n y o t h e r c e l e b r i t y. She is a success, yes, but all in the eye of a patriarchal society. She's not reclaiming sexuality, she is just going along with it.

    1. Yes, yes, yes Rebecca Wonders...I basically AGREE! Charles makes some great points but so does your grrlfriend. I could also add that IMO, it's alright to change your hair color, texture, and still embody 'Blackness' but interestingly, it's the Capitalist system that GLAMORIZES the more 'white' look of African-American people, esp women in showbizness! If Beyonce were to sport her probably kinky dark brown hair and non-lightened skin, she wouldn't be as popular...harder to sell. She's got to have that certain 'LOOK'! And be overtly sexual in her act. I'm personally not a fan of the pervasive idea that 'SEX Sells'. Actors & singers of old were far less sexual in their shows and could actually SING and ACT! Beyonce has a nice voice, yet while her music is not my type, I don't truly knock her...she's just doing her pop star thing like so many. She may have some feminist ideals, but I wouldn't call her a STRONG African-American female role-model.

    2. i have to disagree with you Rebecca, Beyonce is far from white. She's as black as they come just not physically. As a spokesmodel for Loreal she reps her creole background which includes (Native American, French, and African American.) She can't embrace her black side too much simply because she has fans all around the world and must relate to all those fans, but she definitely does embrace her black side a lot more in her new album *check out the No Angel * video.

      Have you ever thought about maybe her hair is blonde just because she likes it that way, and thinks it looks better on her. I wear *weave* *extensions* in my hair, and I'm not doing doing so because I want to be white. I'm doing it because I love how it looks on me and its easier to maintain over my natural kinky hair.

      The black community still sees Beyonce as black, no worries she is still an inspiration to black girls no matter how light she might look. We accept her as she is, and one thing about the black community is that we come in hundreds of different shades. So her lightness is nothing new.

  2. From a Woman of Color...Freakin' AWESOME!! You GET it, Dude!

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  4. Rebecca Wonders some months back, I probably would have agreed with you but at this point after reading Charles Clymer's article and reading about the very powerful and calculated move Beyonce made last Friday with the record companies I have nothing but praises for her....Beyonce stepped out on faith and single handily changed the "Music Game" forever and how they conduct business....and if that is not something to talk about I don't know what is... because most will be talking about this move in "Music Executive Boardrooms" for a long time to come...So, if the only thing you came away with out of this article is the logistics and of physicality of Beyonce's hair and skin color than I'm sad for you....

  5. While I certainly applaud your efforts to speak out on feminist issues, I want to set the record straight on a few things.

    You say that black women can not turn to media and see a lot of representations of themselves, ok, I can give you that. But what you, and so many others, fail to understand is that neither can white women. When you open up a magazine, you are not seeing beauty being defined by a white woman, or a black are seeing it being defined by a FAKE woman, women that do not even exist. While you hear black women critique ad campaigns that feature women with thinner lips, lighter skin, a smaller behind, etc. they have failed to notice that when white women open those same magazines, they are seeing images of women with thicker lips than them, darker skin, and rounder behinds. You see THIS is the true problem. What modern media has done is to invent the imaginary, impossible, idea of feminine beauty by taking what it thinks is the "best" features of all women, white, black, Latino, etc. and used them to photoshop into existence their idea of the “perfect woman”, knowing that no one, of any race, will ever be able to meet those ideals which of course means more money for them. So much of the retail industry is designed to make women, all women, feel bad about themselves so that they will buy their products to “fix” those problems. Black women are told they need to straighten their hair, white models have their hair curled. Black women are told that their skin is too dark, white women are told they need to go to tanning booths because their skin is too light. Black women are told that their lips are too thick, white women are told they need collagen injections to make their lips thicker. Do you see the trend here? The problem here is that the media is establishing the identities of woman, instead of empowering women to establish their own identities in a positive way. They are using the media and the ideas of beauty to silence the voices of women and the only time women see any real measure of success in, and are applauded by, the media is when they work to “sell” that patriarchal ideal of what a woman is suppose to be—in her place...this is an assault on women...ALL women.

    Misogyny in this country is not about black, brown, or white; it's a colorblind oppressor. And until women of every color, creed, religion, and nationality begin to realize this and come together in unity, women will forever be seen as second-class citizens, at best.

    The problem with women like Beyonce, has nothing to do with her skin color, it's about her message and the massive amounts of harm that it causes. While some want to debate on the meaning of feminism, I think that we can all clearly agree that anything that brings harm to, degrades, exploits, and oppresses women is anti-feminist and that, in a nut shell, is what Beyonce and her “brand” is all about. Think for just a moment about a few of her lyrics and the kind of messages they send, she says refers to putting a ring on “it”, not even referencing herself as a person in her own music. She brags about getting “on her knees” in the backseat of a car just to get a guy to like her? Do you realize what kind of harm that message sends to the girls and young women who are influenced by her music? Telling a woman to allow herself to be used sexually just to get someone's attention is not empowering, it's degrading and it is offensive. Beyonce is being attacked by feminists, white and black, not because she has seen success, but because she got there by selling out women, selling herself, and selling a message that supports the culture of misogyny that has been oppressing women for far too long all while now trying to usurp the label of “feminist”. Beyonce is the problem, not the solution.


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