Beyoncé creates space for Blackness regardless of her audience, and it's empowering to witness.By Jazmine Joyner Beyoncé officially changed the game, again, this past Saturday. Her performance at Coachella not only broke streaming records for the festival, but when she took the stage, she also became the first Black woman to ever headline the massively popular music festival, to which she responded, “Ain’t that a bitch?” "Beychella"— a phrase coined by DJ Khaled to describe the impact Beyoncé's performance had on the festival — was a celebration of Black culture, specifically Black collegiate culture, with shout-outs to HBCU Fraternities and Sororities, marching bands, and step teams. Beyoncé created one of the Blackest performances I have ever seen performed at Coachella. Her mother, Tina Lawson, shared on Instagram her concerns for her daughter's performance; “I told Beyoncé that I was afraid that the predominately white audience at Coachella would be confused by all of the Black culture and Black college culture, because it was something that they might not get.” Her daughter’s response to these concerns were thoughtful, “I have worked very hard to get to the point where I have a true voice, and at this point in my life and my career I have a responsibility to do what's best for the world and not what is most popular.” Beychella was by far the most impressive performance I have ever seen put on by any performer. She took the Coachella stage, and gave one hell of a show. Coachella is the ultimate white space—an overpriced festival for privileged white kids to go out into the desert and wear problematic outfits and dance to their favorite bands. It wasn’t until 2014 that the festival started hosting more of a variety of mainstream hip-hop and R&B acts on its lineup. Past headliners were mostly white, featuring Arcade Fire, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phoenix, and Kings of Leon.
If you really want Black women to "save you", do us all a favor and save yourself.Last night, America watched as Alabama held an election as to who would hold the Senate seat. In a close race, Republican Roy Moore lost the race by 20,000 votes to Democrat Doug Jones. So many are stunned by the Democrat victory in a deep red state, but it's not so much who won this Senate race than who is still being fetishized that bothers me. We've seen this spotlighted since the 2016 presidential election — when the poll breakdown by race and gender are published, the numbers confirm what Black women* have known since the dawn of time: we are one of the very few, if not the only, community that has consistently voted in the interest of human rights. Yet, our voting choices has always been weaponized against us; turned around from being an act of self-preservation into one that assuages white folks' racist guilt, giving them an opportunity to "thank Black women for saving [us]". Here's a news flash: We never belonged to you. This morning, my social media was flooded with posts from "well-meaning" to obtuse non-Black folks who mentioned the same fetishizing nonsense we've been seeing since politics turned into a dystopian nightmare for everyone else. Amidst the "Black women saved us," and "Black women voted for us," there's an afterthought of supporting Black women. But these bare minimum posts signal nothing more than finding another way to assert power over Black women. The bar is set on the ground if white folks are using a Senate election as the push they need to finally understand that this country is built on white supremacy. But even more than that, it is no more than an opportunistic ploy to once again treat Black women like the mammies or mules they want us to be. You can set a watch to the timing of white supremacy using Black women for their own means. In centering Black women's voting track record, this means that Black women are collectively robbed of their personal autonomy. When the first thought that comes to the minds of non-Black folks is that anything Black women do is for anyone but themselves, we are moving to take ownership of Black women. Plain and simple. To assert that kind of power over a marginalized group is an extension of the white supremacy that already hangs over our heads.
It Has Nothing To Do With Clothing — Black Women’s Bodies Are Hypersexualized No Matter What We Wear
Black women's bodies are hyper-sexualized and we need to make sure the language around body positivity doesn't reinforce racist and sexist fetishization.Demetria Obilor, traffic reporter at a Texas news station, recently responded to body-shaming comments made about her style of dress. The comments focused on her body size and her choice to wear clothing that does not hide her figure. This situation is reminiscent of Patrice Brown, more commonly and affectionately known as Teacher Bae, who suddenly found herself under a microscope and under review by her employer when a photo of her went viral and garnered comments about how her wardrobe was inappropriate for the classroom. Both of these women, and many more, are fighting a constant battle against unwarranted and unwelcome commentary about their bodies and how they choose to dress them. Not necessarily because of their size, but because of their shape. “Has anyone seen Channel 8’s new morning traffic reporter? Her name is Demetria Obilor & she’s a size 16/18 woman in a size 6 dress and she looks ridiculous,” wrote Jan Shedd in a now-deleted Facebook post. “I understand that when I watch Channel 8 I’m going to get biased reporting and political correctness, but clearly they have taken complete leave of their senses. I’m not going to watch Channel 8 anymore.” The post went viral after Chance the Rapper retweeted a screenshot of it with the simple caption “BIIIIIIG MAD.” https://twitter.com/fabfreshandfly/status/926508650947940352 https://twitter.com/chancetherapper/status/926519148988989441 Obilor's response was astute, matter of fact, and refreshing: “A quick word to those people: this is the way that I’m built, this is the way I was born, I’m not going anywhere, so if you don’t like it you have your options.” While I support Demetria and her response to the racism and body shaming she continues to experience, I feel like there's something else to be found beneath its many layers. Something else about this situation bothers me. Both Obilor and Brown are “pear” shaped, light-skinned Black women. Their very existence in the bodies they were born into is readily fetishized, and not just by the color struck purveyors of colorism. With their light skin, small waistlines, and prominent hips and butts, they inhabit the seemingly most desired, coveted, and worshipped body type, for Black women especially. But there is something at play here besides the fact that people of all races, genders, and sexualities constantly attempt to police Black women's bodies. It's beyond the fact that Black women, regardless of appearance, are always-already sexualized. It's beyond the fact that curvy body types are always deemed inappropriate no matter what we wear.
Far too many people see fat bodies being desired as an impossibility, and see fat people as wholly unworthy of physical intimacy.At least two women and one man have brought a lawsuit against Usher for knowingly exposing them to herpes and failing to disclose his status prior to sexual encounters with them. Though, he reportedly denies this. One of the women involved in the case against the R&B superstar has come forward to reveal her identity. Her name is Quantasia Sharpton and she is a fat Black woman. Quantasia’s public appearance and acknowledgement of Usher’s alleged abuse defies social expectations for a fit and famous man – the collective assumption that any sexual partner of his would be a thin woman. It is simply unfathomable, to many, that Usher would ever find her fatness attractive. Lil Duval, the human trash pile at the center of the recent Breakfast Club Boycott due to his “jokes” about murdering trans women, posted tweets expressing his sheer disbelief. [embed]https://twitter.com/lilduval/status/894565778640564226[/embed] [embed]https://twitter.com/lilduval/status/894573878416113664[/embed] He is not alone in his sentiments and his fans joined in on the fatphobic rampage against Quantasia. Far too many people see fat bodies being desired as an impossibility, and see fat people as wholly unworthy of physical intimacy. These people are wrong. Fat women fuck. A lot. We have just as much capacity to be sexual beings as thin women do. Fat women can and do experience passion and romance – one-night stands and forevers and everything in between. Tender, raunchy, sensual, acrobatic. We are not strangers to these intimacies, and to deny us this possibility is to deny us our humanity. Amid conversations about desirability politics and fatness, it is important to keep fat humanity at the forefront, because the dehumanization of fatness and fat people is at the forefront of fatphobia. This is demonstrated in Lil Duval referring to Quantasia as “this” in his tweet – as if she were an inanimate object, rather than living, sentient, and human. But her worth and humanity are not determined by her sexual or erotic capital. Desirability should not be a prerequisite for the humanity of fat people, and I will not use evidence of men desiring her body type as the central argument against the misogyny-laced fatphobia that she and all fat women continue to experience. Whether or not people find us attractive, we deserve the right to exist free from the oppression of fatphobia.