Black Relationship Politics: “Do You Believe Beyonce?”


Perhaps it is because I finally listened to Watch the Throne. Or perhaps it is because I have been writing about Beyonce on this blog for what, three years now. Perhaps it is because I am smack dab in the middle of researching Black women’s sexuality. Perhaps it is because I hear Janelle Harris in the back of my head saying that being married with a baby is the way to go because doing it alone alone is too much work.

I have come to the conclusion that I don’t believe Beyonce.

I think it is the gap between how patriarchal “If you like it you should have put a ring on it” is, and the lack of public intimacy that I have been thinking about this week.

Now here is the thing with writing about pop culture. I know that in taking on people’s beloved artists there is a possibility that they will shut down, cover their ears, and sing lalalalalalalalalalalalaal like a four year old. If you go that route, keep your comments to your self. This is grown shit we are speaking on.

Yes, Beyonce is attractive, talented, hard working, focused and driven. She can perform her ass off. I get that.

But what I also know is that the ways in which she normalizes patriarchy for Black girls need to be interrogated. When I say patriarchy I mean idea that men/masculine people have the right and the power do dominate women and children. For example, patriarchy normalizes lots of janky things like the right for men make more than women for the same work; the right for men take up more space on the train; the right for men to  stand on the sidewalk and not move when they see us coming; the right to not clean up shit in the house because it’s women’s work; the right to seek and desire pleasure without being called a failed man; the right for men to be active and women to be passive.

A Black woman who seeks and desires pleasure is called spoiled. Spoiled food is ruined, inedible. It will make you sick.

Being a Black woman with a healthy dating life, I realized that the reason why I don’t believe Beyonce, is that I have never seen her hug her #husbear in public. No hug, no kiss, no face grab.

No passion.

Now on That’s My Bitch, which is song on Jay-Z’s and Kanye’s  new album Watch the Throne Jay-Z raps about her, with out “really” rapping about her saying,

Go harder than a nigga for a nigga, gofigure
Told me keep my own money if we ever did split up
How could someone so gangsta be so pretty in pictures
Ripped jeans and a blazer and some Louboutin slippers
Picasso was alive he woulda made her
That’s right nigga, Mona Lisa can’t fade her
I mean Marilyn Monroe, she’s quite nice
But why all the pretty icons always all-white?
Put some colored girls in the MOMA
Half these broads ain’t got nothing on Wylona
Don’t make me bring Thelma in it
Bring Halle, Bring Penelope and Selma in it
Back to my Beyoncés, you deserve three stacks word to Andre
Call Larry Gagosian
You belong in museums, you belong in vintage clothes crushing the whole building
You belong with niggas who used to be known for dope dealin’
You too dope for any of those civilians
Now shoo children, stop lookin’ at her t*ts
Get your own dog, ya heard
That’s my b**ch

So, if I have this correct, she is his Bitch, well kinda. She belongs to niggas known for dope dealing?

According to her, if he liked it, then he would have put a ring on it.

But I ain’t never seen you kiss this man. Evar. Grab his face. Smack his ass. Something Gina.

I don’t believe you.

Now, @cervantes left a comment questioning my evidence and he has a point. Both Beyonce and Jay have referred to each other publicly. He is correct in that Jay Z has mention her, and she him, publicly. And I will acknowledge this corrective in my post because this is in fact important and significant. However, isn’t there something to be said about the distinction between a public mention, and public affection when you make your bread saying that “You are a success if he gives you a ring”.  Why is success measured by having a marriage contract?

I think the post on Clutch by Janelle Harris has influenced me as well. Harris states that while folks living together may be great for some people, for her, she understands the importance of getting married before you have children having had a child 12 years ago and another nine months ago. Harris believes that,

So now, after besting 12 years of single motherhood and nine more months on top of that of being a baby mama, I see now that there is a reason why you should wait to be married before you have little ones. This ish ain’t easy solo. Not that having a husband makes life a cakewalk, but if you’ve picked the right dude, you’ve got a partner to help shoulder and share the responsibilities that come with being a parent, a homeowner—heck, an adult in general.

To them and others who just don’t think it’s that deep, first comes love, second comes marriage, then comes the lady with the baby carriage is a rhyme that didn’t mean much more beyond the playground in elementary school. But to me, it’s the natural order of things, the way the good Lord intended them to be, the modus operandi that makes the most logical sense.

The way God intended? Girrrl, God intended me to be free and to be of service.

Waaaay back in November 2010, my fellow Crunkfeminist @Moyazb stated in response to the No Wedding No Womb meme and the Eddie Long church and sexual violence allegations that,

Perhaps black folks’ ambivalence about marriage signals problems with the institution itself and not with black people.

We are not taught think about how there may be an issue with the institution of marriage rather than with Black people.We are not thinking about other ways to think about family BECAUSE raising children is hella work because doing it alone can lead to a nervous breakdown.

So, if Beyonce is going to be Black women’s ambassador for heterosexual marriage, then ya’ll need to go back to the drawing board.

Can we believe a Love that can’t and won’t be claimed publicly? Especially when the “Love” is constantly referred to, implicitly, in songs.

For GLBTQ folks, claiming your Love publicly can get your assed fired, get you beat on the street, get you kicked out of your biological family. Talk about relationship politics.

Or perhaps their marriage is crude and public example of what marriage in the United States, an economic, legal and property arrangement.

This is why I also believe that folks had such a hard time with the Kim Kardashian’s divorce. Her marriage and divorce exemplified just how much market forces, how much money plays a role in marriage in 2011.

Many of us romantics have a hard time accepting this. But it’s real. As real as that $3.15 latte I just bought. As real as the 35 million people in this country who are on food stamps.

Money matters in our sexual relationships. If you don’t believe me, ask a sex worker or a stripper. Ask the wife of a man who is a millionaire.

I do agree with Janelle on one thing. She states that,

Celebrities wield such heavy influence over what so many folks do, say and believe—including adults, so let’s not front—that Mrs. Carter’s decision to do it the right way (yep, I intentionally left the quotation marks off) just might spark a positive trend.

It is for this reason that I write this piece.

Do you believe Beyonce?

If you refer to your relationship in songs, and if your songs are patriarchal, do you then need to visibly affectionate in order to be believable?

Perhaps patriarchy closes off the space to be affectionate?

Is it meaningful that he put a ring on it but I/we ain’t never seen him kiss her?

#I just wrote my ass off. #Drops mic.

Arielle Loren Asks “Is Beyonce the Face of Contemporary Feminism?” My Response

We need to be clear about who we are trying to be equal to.

In her blog post Arielle Loren asserts that most women do not identify as being feminists even if they share its core ideologies, that there has been a shift in the contemporary agenda for women’s equality and that women are tired of rhetoric of hardcore oppression and patriarchy. She goes on to say that “frankly, all of the traditional feminist criticism of her “Who Runs The World (Girls)” video is just another example of the disconnect between intellectual theory and real life.” Beyonce is the face of contemporary feminism because women feel empowered listening to Beyonce’s music, so consequently, they take this “power” with them as they go on about their day to day lives.

Interesting.

Let me lay out my assumptions.

Feminism is not about being equal to men. All men are not equal. A black man  from 135th street with a Harvard MBA does not have the same social capital as a Black man from 135th street who just got out of Rikers. Full stop.

Next.

We need to be clear about who we want to be equal to. In fact, we need to ask do we want to be equal or do we want to be free?

Second assumption.

Black feminists are rooted in Love.

Black Feminists are interested in creating spaces for men to feel because men who don’t feel do not know how to Love. Black feminists are interested in holding themselves, and others accountable when they say racist, homopobic ‘ish, because thats how we roll. Black feminists will get up in that behind when a rapper tries to make jokes and bets about non consensual choking of women during sex. Peace to Jay Electronica. The Black feminist I know are rooted in Love. Being rooted in Love means that you understand that you will not be able to have meaningful emotionally invested relationships with another adult until you have forgiven you one OR both of your parents for abandoning you. Peace to all my homies who are in therapy. We grown.

Black Feminist Love is hella grown.

We are so grown that we understand like Arielle Loren does, the importance of Black women being able to be sexual, complicated, whole human beings. We understand that is is particularly important for Black women who are rendered 50 million ho’s on the regular in pop culture. The mission statement for the Black Feminist blog  Betta Come Correct states that:

BECAUSE BLACK FEMINIST SEX IS THE BEST SEX EVER…THIS IS ALSO A WAKE UP CALL TO ANYONE WHO INSISTS ON INTIMACY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY, CONDONES VIOLENCE AGAINST BLACK WOMEN, OR REFUSES TO BE TRANSFORMED BY THE ECSTATIC MIRACLE THAT BLACK WOMEN EXIST. YOU ARE SERIOUSLY MISSING OUT.

So Black women having space to be multidimensional and whole is a part of the contemporary Black feminist agenda.

Back to Beyonce.

As you many of you know I have done a lot of writing about Beyonce, because I am concerned about how the messages that she conveys shapes expectations within Black heterosexual relationships. Given the fact that she made 80 million dollars in 2007-2008 and that earning that kind of money is extremely rare for people in general Black women in particular, Beyonce’s messages influence society and they shape how Black women look at themselves and their partners. Black women are not allowed to earn nearly 100 million dollars unless they are beautiful, talented, non-threatening to White men and they convey historical stereotypes about Black men and women. Dave Chappelle walked away for a reason ya’ll.

Because I care about Black women, I pay close attention to what Beyonce says.

It is dangerous to make open statements that women run the world, because there is so much evidence women get the shit end of the stick in the world.

Black, Latina and Asian women are sex trafficked in the Bronx, East Oakland and Las Vegas.

Eastern European women are sex trafficked globally.

An estimated nearly 100 Million female fetuses and girl children have been aborted or neglected in China and India over the last thirty years.

Women are 50.7% of the US Population. Yet, women are only 16.4% of Congress. They are 17 of the 100 members of the Senate. They are 73 of the 435 member of the House of Representatives.

Women are routinely paid less for the same jobs that men do and this is broken down by race.In fact when I told my students two weeks ago that they could graduate from college and be offered less money, just because of what was between their legs, they looked depressed.

They couldn’t believe how profoundly unfair it was. When I said that “Women are cheap labor” they looked mortified. I explained to them that shutting down was not going to create a more just and equitable world. That they cannot change a system if they do not understand it. And now that they do know that women are offered less money to do the work that men can do, they are expected to go out into the world and change it. Peace to the Equal Pay Act.

Poverty is feminized in this country, meaning that a main predictor of poverty is having a baby because children are expensive (childcare, healthcare, food, clothes, shelter) and there is very little support such as state/federal child care, paid federal family medical leave, support for families who work full time as parents.

We need to be honest about who we are tying to be equal to.

Women do not run the world. The world shits on women. Ask Ester Baxter. Ask Susan Giffords. Ask the woman who claims that she was assaulted and raped by the former President of the IMF. Ask Shaniya Davis’s family.  Ask Ayianna Jones’s family. Ask Sakia Gunn’s family. Ask. Ask. Ask.

Now if we want to celebrate the catchiness of a Beyonce song, or honor her athletic ability, her fierceness as a dancer, that is perfectly legititmate. But to call her the face of modern day feminism is ahistorical and a slap in the face to Black, White, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Native American women and men who have been working to change our world so that being born with a vagina does not automatically mean being raised to be someones wife, street harassment material, nanny, slave or prostitute, but a fully developed human being.

For more readings on the history of Black Women and Feminism read:
Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement and the Black Baptist Church 1880-1920 by Evelyn Brooks Higgenbotham
Living for the Revolution by Kimberly Springer
Radical Sisters: Second Wave Feminism and Black Liberation in Washington in DC by Ann Valk.

For more readings on Black, White and Chicana Feminisms:
Separate Roads to Feminism by Benita Roth

For more readings on Third Wave Feminism
To Be Real, Ed by, Rebecca Walker
“Under Construction: Identifying Foundations of Hip Hop Feminism…” by Whitney Peoples
On Being Feminism’s Ms. Nigga by Latoya Peterson <<<And I still have issues with the title.
Feminism for Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism, Ed. Jessica Yee.

My post on R. Kelly and Julian Assange mentions some good books on feminism as well.

Thoughts. I know you have them.

Is positing Beyonce as “contemporary feminism” a move to come up?

What is your definition of feminism?

Music as feminist empowerment?

Beyonce Incorporated: R&B, Thugs and Whiteness





Here is the thesis and intro ya’ll. Peace to Birk and Jess for helping

me organize the beginning, I swear that’s the hardest part, because the

rest of the framework flows from there.

In writing this I was reminded that its not enough to have something

to say. Its not enough to have read the books to be informed. It’s only

enough when
I can frame and deploy a convincing argument.

If you have any questions, leave them below, and I will try and work them

into the paper.

~Renina



Beyonce Incorporated: R&B, Thugs and Whiteness

Since the 1998 crossover breakthrough of Destiny?s Child, Beyonce Knowles has

been a star on the rise. Since then she has released numerous albums, both with

Destiny?s Child and as a solo artist, she has starred in or served as a supporting

actor in several major motion pictures, and has married a multiplatnuim selling rap

artist. In short, Beyonce is everywhere, including the bank. In fiscal year

2007-2008, Beyonce reportedly earned an estimated $87 million dollars.

Given that black wealth is incredible rare in the United States (Oliver & Shapiro, 2006),

the reasons for Beyonce?s incredible success are worth exploring.

In exploring the reasons for Ms.Knowles? success, I am primarily concerned with

the intersection of popular culture and the day to day lived experience of African

Americans. Often times we listen to music without considering the fact that it isn?t

neutral and that it also has an affect on the ways in which we go about our lives.

Beyonce Knowles is an accomplished, talented and attractive, singer, actor,

entertainer and fashion designer.



She is also is fast becoming an entertainment empire in and of herself. While she

?grew up in a four-bedroom home in Houston’s upscale third ward with her father,

Mathew, a salesman at Xerox and Johnson & Johnson mother, Tina, a hair salon

owner, and sister, Solange Knowles, sings.?According to Forbes magazine,

Ms. Knowles has ?sold upwards of 118 million records, won ten Grammys,

starred in seven films and headlined three solo tours? (Rose, 2009). Her endorsement

deals are extremely lucrative. She has had them with ?Tommy Hillfiger L’Or?al,

Giorgio Armani Diamonds perfume, Samantha Thavasa handbags? and in the last

year, ?she’s added deals with Crystal Geyser and Nintendo DS to her r?sum?? (Rose, 2009).

Further more, the blue chip corporation, General Mills just underwrote her most recent

tour, I AM (Rose, 2009). Rose goes on to note that ?Beyonc? constantly works and

reworks her act, watching every two-hour performance on tour–even after her

hundredth appearance–taking notes on how to improve. “I’m never satisfied,” she

says, adding with a nervous laugh, “I’m sure sometimes it’s not easy working for me.”

Then, seriously: “I’ve never met anyone that works harder than me in my industry?

(Rose, 2009). Indeed, given the fact that she employs four hundred people and

arguably many more through touring and merchandising, she, in many ways is a

corporation.

According to Marxist theory on cultural hegemony, ?the class, which is the dominant

material force in society, is at the same time its dominant intellectual force?(Strinati, 131).

Beyonce Knowles earned an estimated 87 million dollars in fiscal year 2007-2008 not

only because she is talented and attractive but also because her most popular work

serves the interests of the white ruling class elites, such as the presidents of Fortune

500 corporations and Madison avenue advertising firms, wall street investment bankers,

television and record executives. She serves the interests of the ruling class by

normalizing and never questioning the impact that white supremacist patriarchal

capitalism has on black heterosexual relationships. Lyrics such as ?pay my auto

bill, pay my telephone bill?, thug worship such as ? if his status ain?t hood, I ain?t

messing with him, he better be street if he looking at me? and ?them hustlas keep

on talking, they like the way I?m walking? reify the stereotype of the black, male,

sexy thug. These lyrics also deploy the patriarchal notion that African American men

are only worth what they can contribute financially. Furthermore such lyrics are

problematic because they place the economic issues facing black heterosexual couples

squarely on the shoulders of individuals while obscuring the structural forces acting on

the lives of such couples such as a historically segregated educational system, a

segregated housing system, a discriminatory bank lending system, an oppressive

police system, historically discriminatory judicial system, the war on drugs, the war

on poverty and a largely self serving nonprofit industrial complex.

I am making this argument because I am concerned with the package that her

message comes in, the content of message that is deployed and the impact that

this has on the masses of society, as popular culture is where most people learn

about society by deploying lyrics that focus on black women asking black men

for money for utility bills, that celebrate black men as the mythic thug, Beyonce

Knowles both reifies the stereotype of rugged, violent, black men who work in the

underground economy. This is important because applying white hegemonic market

ideology is harmful to Black heterosexual relationships, given the fact that historically,

Black workers tend to be some of the lowest played workers in the United States

economy (Oliver and Shapiro).



Thoughts?

Beyonce and Black Women's Empowerment

Educated Sistah Girl asked me some really good questions about
the Beyonce Post from a couple of weeks ago.

I kept trying to respond in the comments but blogger wasn’t having it,
so I have made it into a blog post itself.
Below is my response to her
comments.

Enjoy.

ESG,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your
responses have me thinking. I am going to try and
respond to the
questions/comments that haven’t been
answered already.

You said:

The up and coming artisits like Jazmine Sullivan and Melonie Fiona are sickening to me with songs like Bust Ya Windows and that song on the radio abt ‘I dont care if you are cheating I just want to be with you’. They are pop artists. They are much more detrimental to our culture byt not the White Ptriachal Capitalist System that you speak of…more like in a Willie Lynch Kind of way.

This is interesting. What do you mean by this? Why is it sickening?
What do you mean by a Willie Lynch kind of way?


You said:

I woudl argue that Beyonce says that she needs a baller because she is a baller. Do you mean to tell me that a woman worth xxM should be dealing with a guy worth xxH? It makes for an imbalanced relationship and is much more unheathy.

Why does Beyonce need a baller when she is married to Jay-Z and recently made
$87M 2007-08.

Why not sing about her marriage? Whose interest are being served by this?
What does this mean given the ways in which Black women who date
ballers
wind up dead or in jail?

You said:

I happen to think that Beyonce is close to the modern-day Tina Turner… to the media

You are right and I am going to root Beyonce in a Tina Turner, Josephine Baker
and maybe even Lena Horne lineage.
However, we must look at
image AND content.
Tina and the Yonce ain’t sing about the the same shit.
They were also
produced by two very different historical moments and that
has to be
accounted for to.

You also made two really profound comments that I am going to respond to at length.

The first:

Even Upgrade you is a testament to being with someone who is
“on your level” and bypassing those guys who will be bad for you.
Not because he can’t give you anything but because you need to
have similar level of ambition (if not interests) to be in a HEALTHY
relationship. Many of her songs (Irreplacable, Me, Myself and I, Diva,
Put a Ring on It) are about empowering women to be independant.
This is needed in our community because there are way too many
women in unheathy relationships because they think they need a man.
Their ambition in life is to be someone’s woman. The reason that

Beyonce appeals to so many is because she can sing about that
strength, that fierce independance and then show vulnerability in love

with a song like Flaws and all.

The second is:

Many of her songs (Irreplacable, Me, Myself and I, Diva, Put a Ring
on It) are about empowering women to be independant. This is needed
in our community because there are way too many women in unheathy
relationships because they think they need a man. Their ambition in
life is to be someone’s woman.

We have are working with different assumptions. I am glad that you commented
because it is forcing me to think through my assumptions
and state them
explicitly.

Assumption Number 1:

I do not assume a patriarchal view of the family or relationships.
More about patriarchy here.

Black women asking Black men for money for the rent is not
empowering.

This is really akin to two people fighting for crumbs from ‘Massa
bosses table.

Our economic system serves the interest of the ruling class, a ruling class
made up of White people, to serve the interests
of White people.

Beyonce’s music serves the interest of the ruling class because it talks
about “empowerment”, in terms of the most historically oppressed people
(aside from Native Americans) in the United States, arguing with each other
over paying the rent.

Black men and women beefin’ with each other about money,
instead of focusing on an economic system that is created by White
people to serve the interests of White people is the complete antithesis of
empowerment because it has us looking at ourselves, instead of the system
that creates these conditions.

I’m realize in reading your statement that if I had a patriarchal view of
relationships THEN it would be true, this may seem empowering.

In this society, if we were going to “ask” any men for money, logically it
should be gay White men. They are White men, so they tend to be better paid,
and because they are gay, they tend to choose when they have children, as
they are is less likely pregnancy accidents. This is material because having
children is a high predictor of poverty in the US.

Our American economic system presumes that a group of people will
be financially exploited. Historically, this group has been black men
and women.

Empowerment arises in a system that pays Black men and women enough money
to survive, or even one that pays Black men and women the same amount
that White men earn, for the same jobs.

Empowerment arises in a system that forces some folks to live simply so that
OTHERS may simply live.

Women do 2/3rds of the worlds work for 1/10th of the pay. I want MY
9/10ths of pay back. Black men didn’t take it from me, so they can’t give it back.
Getting it from Black men isn’t the issue.

Assumption Number 2:

Black men have been woefully underemployed since after WWII, so
walking around expecting them to have money simply isn’t the issue.

Its an insult to measure ANY person by what they have, Black or otherwise.

Human beings are children of God.

What you have and who you are are two different things and Pop music/culture
in general and Beyonce’s music in particular is harmful because it normalizes
the idea that relationships are based on financial transactions, fuck love.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t have standards and just date anyone but we
must ALSO
look at how the system limits the options that Black people have
in this society.

I hear you, as women we are socialized to put relationships ahead of everything else.
I have worked VERY hard, and still work hard at making my spiritual life, my artistic
life, my work at the center of my day to day , not just my relationship. In order to do this,
I had to do a lot of unlearning what I was taught as a young girl about who was suppose
to be when I grew up. I wrote about it in this post titled, “On Waiting Around for a Man.”

I am going to repaste a part of the above quote again, because it reminds
me of something else.

You write:

As far as the videos she has “Normalizing consumption and exchange-based
heterosexula relationships, she has plenty of other songs that are just as
popular, if not dancable (which doesnt realy mean much…ppl dont LISTEN
to dance songs for the lyrics), songs that speak to giving your all to a
relationship, appreciation for your partner, and recognizing the person
he/she is. Dangerously In love, Flaws and all, and Halo. Even Upgrade
you is a testament to being with someone who is “on your level” and
bypassing those guys who will be bad for you. Not because he can’t
give you anything but because you need to have similar level of ambition
(if not interests) to be in a HEALTHY relationship. Many of her songs
(Irreplacable, Me, Myself and I, Diva, Put a Ring on It) are about
empowering women to be independant. This is needed in our community
because there are way too many women in unheathy relationships
because they think they need a man. Their ambition in life is to be
someone’s woman. The reason that Beyonce appeals to so many is
because she can sing about that strength, that fierce independance
and then show vulnerability in love with a song like Flaws and all.


This is a profound statement.

Where is the middle ground for a heterosexual Black woman between
refusing to be a doormat and loving Black men in the face of limited
employment options that they have?


Is the issue that we need to learn love ourselves?

What is the connection between black women’s empowerment and self love?
Is the issue that Black men need to learn how to love themselves as well?
Would Black teenage boys kill each other the way
that they do if they loved
themselves?


Black men with Awesome credentials, Ivy League etc, have a hard time getting
and keeping a job.
If Ivy League Black men can’t get a job, and if we value men
by how much money they have, then don’t we have a problem? Is the problem
us our the system that we live in? What will it take to redefine what it means
to love?

I am pushing this conversation to get us to think along the lines of the system
that we live in, along with, thinking in terms of individual relationships we have.


All in all, I hope this was responsive.

~Renina

What Sarah Palin Taught Me About Beyonce

I am working on a paper titled, “How Beyonce and Capitalism Undermined
R&B’s Ability to Normalize Black Love.”

The title may change to Beyonce Incorporated, as that is more focused
and more appropriate for academia.

My professor wants me to l shift my focus to the media’s investment in, what I have
called, the Beyonce Beauty Aesthetic, light skinned, size 4/6, curvy, blond hair.

I am not interested in just talking about the media, I am interested in how
Beyonce is a tool
for maintaining US hegemony and the ways in which
she normalizes really
fucked up, patriarchal, Black heterosexual relationships.

I am fascinated by a light skinned, middle class Black woman
from the Houston suburbs who sings about needing a soldier, who
she could upgrade, so that he can put a ring on it, and if he likes her he
can put her in his video phone.

Conversely, why is a woman worth tens of millions of dollars singing
about needing a baller
?


I’m intrigued by this binary of success that allows one Black woman at a time
to be a megastar, with the general prerequisite being that she is lightskinned
and talented, and while all the rest remain pretty marginalized.

Kelis. Amel.Tiombe.Georgia Ann Muldrow.Algebra. Aaries.Goapele, Solange etc.

Estelle,Chrisette, Erykah may get some mainstream play, but for the most
part they are regulated to the VH1 Soul channel and its requisite circuit.

Mary may get some pop play.

By and large Billboard-wise Alicia and Mariah are presented to us
as Black Pop R&B stars. (Did I miss anyone? I may have, and I sure you
all will let me know in the comments.)

Both are light skinned. Both keep their sizes in a 4-6-8 range.

In trying to figure out how to frame this paper, I called Moya and asked for her
advice.

She suggested that I read Summers piece about how Beyonce is simply
just doing her job.

Summer makes the argument that Beyonce is doing her job, singing,
dancing, shimming and making work out music and that to expect
her to expect her to do anything else is implicitly naive.

Her job is to be a diva, and she most certainly does it well.

While, I agree that she most certainly is doing a job, my job is to show
how her efficiency is related to both the larger project of maintaining
white supremacist patriarchal capitalism and how the songs normalize
some really patriarchal, and implicitly violent Black heterosexual relationships.

How did I get to Beyonce from Sarah Palin?

I was talking with another professor about politics and Sarah
Palin.

I mentioned that my issue with my generation is that they are far too focused
on Sarah Palin and not on the people who are willing to vote for her in 2012.
That calling those folks stupid will not discourage them, and that it may,
in fact, embolden them
.

She responded saying that there needs to be both a focus on Palin and a focus
on the people who support her. Her rationale was that some people, because
of their platform, influence and power, need to be made to shut up, because the
things that they say are harmful and can cause other groups of people to do
harm. She used Rwandan genocide as an example.

She made it clear that we need to see Palin as a willing participant in her
career.

It was at that moment that I had a better idea of how to frame Beyonce.
My homie Jess said that I should lay out the facts and then make my
argument, given the fact that multiple arguments can be made on the
same facts.

I now understand that the argument section has to be simultaneously on the
Beyonce and the culture that she influences and create’s.

Culture is US hegemony’s goon.

Culture does hegemony’s day to day dirty work.

It was then that I realized that when I write this paper, that I will not
write about Beyonce per se, but about the power that she has, and
the harm that is done when Black women dating hustlers is normalized.

All people need love. Hustlers too.

Women of all races have dealt with people who operate in the underground
economy
. I get that.

However, this must be reconciled with the fact that the most popular Black pop
singer in the world is continually singing abou needing a baller, and perpetually
valuing men for what they can give.

If Black men are only worth what they can give, then they must be worth very little,
as they are woefully under or unemployed. There are nearly1 million of them in prison mainly
for non violent drug offense, largely selling small amounts of crack or other drugs.

In a country where 1 in 15 Black men is incarcerated
this is a problem.

Black and white women are going to jail at unprecedented rates too.

Human beings deserve to be loved regardless of how much cake they have.

Peep game.

Folks want Jay Z to rap about being married.

Jay Z will not rap about being married to Beyonce because young
White men, other non Black people and perhaps some Black folks,
do not want to hear about it.

Jay can be married to the game, but he can’t be married to her.

The reason why I am writing this piece for the women,
that I know of from East Oakland, California, who have gotten shot in the
face, kidnapped, stuff into trunks, have caught been caught hustling
or dealing with hustlers and are now doing dumb ignorant time or they
are dead.

This morning, I woke up and while I was making coffee I remember my
patna from elementary school, Tange. In the early early nineties, Tange’s
cousin got shot in Brookfield while sitting in the car with her boyfriend,
who was a hustler. The killer murdered both of them. Peep game. When I saw
Tange, she was spooked because she looked like her cousin. So when people
saw her they would say her and say, “Girl, I thought you were dead.” They thought
she was her cousin because they looked similar.

People may not care, because the lives of Black women are not important
to them. Or they may think I am putting ten on two.

Their lives are important to me.

So I write.