Hey, Beyoncé. It’s me, Andrea, one of your legions of fans. I’m not one of the crazies, you know, like that guy who snatched you off stage in Brazil or the internet trolls who will threaten to kill at the mention of anything negative that relates to you.
I suppose I’m crazy in a different way so let me digress from criticizing your worshippers. Bey, I can’t tell you how many times you have brought me endless joy. Down there where 10th street intersects with Piedmont Avenue– where queers like me sometimes hang. Many a nights, I danced side by side Atlanta’s fiercest drag queens while they belted out your latest hit. “Party” blasted from our speakers summer after summer as we sat poolside, too cool to get in the water— “you’re touch is driving me crazy, I can’t explain the way I feel, top down with the radio on and the night belongs to us, just hold me close, don’t let me go.” The song, chock-full of summertime vibes and a feeling of being high in the clouds from love. I can’t resist head bobbing along or throwing up my hands in the air. You have long ago propelled to legendary status but I must say your recent move to drop your album without the help of the middle man or “industry folk” has certainly cemented your star alongside many great performers.
Everyone is talking–from uncultured vanilla boys over at Fox News, your natural haired sistas and even older folks who don’t normally subscribe to your music. Professor and cultural critic, Melissa Harris-Perry recently gave you much props on her MSNBC show, calling you “a fresh representation of womanhood and feminism that is multi-layered and rich in its comfortable contradictions.” On the very same program Jennifer Siebel Newsom, a filmmaker, speaker and women’s advocate, made the point that, “the spectrum of thinking needs to broaden and shouldn’t be limited in thinking there’s just one stereotype of sexuality, and femininity and that we would benefit as a society in having conversations about healthy sexuality, sensuality and eroticism.” In our diverse world where freedom of expression is sometimes lacking, it’s important that an androgynous woman such as myself– who tends to self-identify as more masculine–and you, a feminine presenting woman showcase the diversity within that spectrum. Harris-Perry also eloquently brought up the fact that there is power in women proudly displaying “our real bodies, our sexy selves.”
You were previously perceived as guarded and impersonal in that infamous “60 minutes” interview yet you’re now being typecast as being too open, even being called explicit. This double standard ties into the troublesome set of stereotypes and standards of respectability politics. As history shows, the black woman is often painted as either the “jezebel” or expected the fill roles as chaste and respectable. The failure in this mindset is that being pigeonholed as such hinders one from expressing their full humanity. It’s important that you’re seen as Beyoncé and not a representation of all black women. It’s imperative that you’re allowed to be you just as Erykah Badu is free to be her conscious, afro-wearing self. There’s power in these various representations of womanhood. More recently, you received some flack over your recent hit “Bow Down” over the repeated use of the “B” word, not Beyoncé but that other overused one. People jumped at calling you anti-woman and anti-feminist. Do I think you’re anti-woman? Certainly not. I think you’re an evolving woman like all women who seek to better themselves. In essence Bey, you self-empowered and no matter what anyone has to say, the reality is like Sinatra “you did it your way.” The fact that you put out fourteen new songs and shot seventeen videos to go along is astonishing and points to you being the hardest working diva, scratch that, artist on the grind right now.
I was pleasantly surprised that you shared your artistic space with prominent Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. My brother, who is a Ph.D. graduate teaching assistant at the University of Georgia, introduced me to TedTalks just a year ago. It was there, at a Ft. Lauderdale airport that I watched my first TedTalk of Adichie and more recently her video “We should all be feminist.” Matter of fact, my brother is currently reading Adichie’s latest book “Americanah.” I plan on reading it after he’s finished–you should too, if you haven’t already. It’s important that your fans who aren’t normally exposed to the likes of Adichie, get a taste of her stuff. There are many artists and great minds out there like Adichie, the likes of Staceyann Chin, Suheir Hammad and Najla Said to name a few. These ladies are talking about and addressing issues like rape, sexual freedom and orientation, war, love, violence, any and everything. You know, talking about the things we tend to avoid at all costs because they are too “touchy” or “taboo.”
Here’s what I know. As a young black woman, who has made many a mistakes and contradicted myself many times, I leave ample room for growth. I see growth Beyoncé and I’m loving it–just as I’ve seen growth in myself. I’m one of the kindest people I know but prone to selfish behavior. I’m thoughtful and mild-mannered but plagued by bouts of anger—I can go on and on but I’m working on them, working through them as I see you doing the same. “B” word or not, “so-called” overly sexual or not–you have tirelessly put yourself out there and continue to put out quality music to the world. Bey, I would say all and all, for a little brown girl from Houston, who had some lofty dreams– you ain’t doing too badly. From Destiny’s Child to Mrs. Carter to motherhood–. I see you grown woman! And as a grown woman to another, I will not “bow down” but I will “big you up” as we say in Jamaica. The world sees you Beyoncé, I see you and I will continue being a quiet but loyal fan!
P.S Send my love to Solange, she’s my girl too!