Monday, December 14, 2009

Beyonce and Black Women's Empowerment

TwitThis



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


6 comments:

noellaccovin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
salina said...

I'm listening to Groove Theory's "Come Home" and I qoute the:

"You were born into a cold world
With only the angels on your side
And they whispered you must stay gold here
Don't let nothin' blind your eyes
So you go out into those cold streets
And you get caught up in their lies
They offer you money and power
But someday they will leave you there to die

Chorus:
Don't you know
The street will never love you like I do
You won't find out until your alone
The street will never love you like I do
So leave that life behind and come home
And come home, come home, baby come home

And if they loved you like I do
Whether your pocket's full or empty
They would be around
And if you lose it all they'll watch you take a fall
Nobody loves you when you're down
And I see the way this world has tried to break you
Tried to hurt me too you know I understand
But I can't let you go, and lose your soul because I love you
Open your eyes and take my hand

Chorus

Come home
No one said it would be eay
Come home
We've had pain since we began
Come home
I see how the world deceived you
I understand"


-------

wow how the hell did we allow ourselves to fall so far apart?

M.Dot. said...

YYYYYYYYYYOU CAME TOOOO MY BLOG.

I LOVE YOU.

Its only taken you what 4 years. YEAAAAH.

That is one of my FAVORITE songs.
I was listening to this one too.
BOOM BAP--> http://iLike.com/s/4GSmT

~Reneenski

progressivescholar said...

"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."

ALL OF THIS! :) It is incredibly frustrating to engage in dialogue when the other person has a completely different (a.k.a., lacking) understanding of patriarchy and the history of oppression. We all have to be on the same page before we can discuss what is empowering and what isn't.

Nzingah Morena said...

I just found your blog and must say you typed done some things that I wish my female friends would think about. Black women all over the world seem to have the same problems once they live in a Western society. As long as we don't work on our knowledge of the system and our inferiority complexes most of us will be running in circles. I completely agree with you and hope to see more of your work. Greetings

M.Dot. said...

Woot. Glad you like it.

I have only gone Global in the last two months, my women studies professor is AWESOME and really pushes us to think outside of our "western" "black" boundaries.

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