Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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

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

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

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.


Unknown said...

Very interesting piece. Is your final article on Beyonce gonna be on your blog or is it for uni?
Yeah I've always found it interesting how blatantly Beyonce..and Destiny's child upheld these patriarchal views on not just black love, but love in general. One just has to listen to 'Cater to you' to understand this.
I think in terms of Beyonce requiring a baller, it serves two purposes, the first, as u indicated it propagates this template for black love- beautiful black woman of any class who just can't help falling for bad boys....but I've found on her last two albums especially her lyrical content have also helped to blur the line between what is considered 'black music' and 'pop'...on face value lyrics like 'you must not know bout me' would be considered too black for the UK audience (I'm in the UK, so I got a diff perspective) but when sung by someone as 'safe' as Beyonce it enters into common parlance and the stereotypes associated with some aspects of that type of grammar are eroded to some degree..

M.Dot. said...


Interesting indeed. I had no idea what I was getting into. Ironically this piece comes out of me writing about Black thug masculinity last may.

They are not talking about love. They are talking about money and sex.

The final jawn will be for uni, but I may put a short version on the blog. People seem to really care about the topic and its an awesome opportunity to talk about political economy and Black femininity. I want to present it @ the Ethnic Studies conf in DC, so we will see.

Goes and listens to You Must Not Know About Me.
Ohhh Okay. Shit. At least this is a heartbreak song.<<< Too Black for the UK Pop radio? Luls.

elisita said...

thank you for your analysis...i work in media literacy and organize around media justice issues.....thank you for this deconstruction! i would love to read more about your investigation.

M.Dot. said...


What kind of work you do?

With whom? I love this work.

Where you a grad student @? Studying what?

Look @ me, all in your business. I ask because I try and stay in the solution and you seem to be on the solution end of things. Feel free to em me if you prefer.


RPoeta said...

Wow!! This is a powerful critique. It is so refreshing to discuss how we perpetuate patriarchy and its connection to black love. I think about all the young black high school girls I work with who look to BK to define their femininity. And I really struggle with the ways to discuss with them about alternative ways to define your identify for yourself and to learn how to critique and unpack those stupid ass notions of having a man validate you by "putting a ring on it!" Cuz that's all we will need, right?!
Please send me your paper when it's done, please sis!! :-)

K1NG said...

Great read.

You gotta shoot me that finished paper! :)

Bianca said...

1. your ideas are amazing. continue to go there. it has been amazing to see the growth of these ideas over the past few of years.
2. where does rihanna fall in the mix? what does she represent? it is impossible for me to think of bey without thinking of rihanna... their complexions, absurd diva personas, links to jay, (pop) positions on relationships/black love, the juxtapositions of their music and their personal love lives... they intersect far too much in my mind.
3. tange's story..."girl, i thought you were dead".... damn.

Model Minority said...


Glad you liked it.


YEAH! I quoted you on the new site. Now if I can stop being shook and relaunch.

A few years. Wow. Girl you know things about me my daddy don't know, lols.

One of the reasons why I am scared to relaunch. I like the anonomyity of the space. Feel me? At the same time, I am trying to grow, and the best way for that may or may not be anonymously.

Tange was my homie. I always remember her for three reasons. She is Hershey brown w/ Long curly GOOD hair. There was always this notion that her hair was "wasted" on her. She was always my friend and took up for me. She was more of a fighter, I was a skinny nerd and fearless, but she was more willing to fight and had handles in elementary school. The BOYS were scared of her, or at least saw her as their equal atheltically and re fisticuffs.

Rihanna, Girl. Thats gonna be the next paper. Talking to Jonzey today, I told her that I may start lobbying congress in 2010 re-mental health issues for Black teens. She then told me that Chris, in his interviews, sounds like he is in therapy, but Rihanna doesn't. Then I thought, what if I reached out to him, for the purposes for making my case about teen abuse and violence. Damn. It it could happen. So yeah. Rihanna is next.

Luna said...

Visit blog
There you will find a very interesting, very provocative alternative to your standpoint on Bey's video. Then respond to it. I think it'll make for an interesting debate.

Peace. Love. Nappy.


Misty Knight said...

I guess I have a couple questions

1) When you mention

"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."

I feel you are ignoring the fact that these artist are doing distingishly DIFFERENT music than Beyonce. All of which would fit more so into the "Neo Soul" genre, then Pop/Rnb per say.
When has an any artist of that genre experienced such mainstream appeal?
Thats why Brittney's on the charts singing about threesomes and Esthero is a virtual unknown.
Pop music dominates.
Some music does not appeal to the masses

2) AN actual statement than a question
I never understood the response to "Single Ladies". I always found the song's premise to be simple.
Girl runs into ex- wants to flaunt newfound singlehood in his face, tells him if he was so concerned about her business he shouldve "Put A Ring On It" and "locked it up". The End.

Yet somehow this simple song penned my A MAN (The Dream), is both being viewed as heralding a "ring on it" as a womans validation, while simutaneouly pressuring men to prematurely commit to marraige.
(according to various blogs)?

How could it offend both men and women?

3) If the song "Cater 2 U" was sung by a man would it still be "offensive"?
I didnt hear not one blip from woman about when Babyface (years ago) penned:
I give good love
I'll buy your clothes
I'll cook your dinner too
Soon as I get home from work
I'll pay your rent
Your faithful lover
Soon as I get home, soon as I get home from work
Girl, I'll treat you right
And I'll never lie or flirt
Soon as I get home, soon as I get home from work
Girl I'll be around, never let you down
For all that it's worth
( Wow imagine if that had been sung by a woman, a black woman at that!)

Or when TI rapped about spending lavishly in "Whatever You Like". or even Chris Brown's male version of "Upgrade You" called "Transform Ya" in which he sings about lavishing women with attention and expensive things?

4) Is it fair to define an artist whole body of work by 3 or 4 songs?
Out of 3 solo albums and 3 or 4 group albums, you are presenting a small portion of songs as the overall message of her body of work.

When you think of Beyonce, lyrics and images of "Soldier" and "Videophone" may come to mind.
But a fan might think of "Me, Myself, and I" ; "Dangerously In Love", or "Halo"-as more represenative.

Overall Im not saying that you haven't made any valid points. I just had some questions and thougths about it.

myra said...

first time reader and commenter (but head over heels fan!) you had me over @ racialicious with your "black girl on gramsci", i laughed and then was jealous i hadn't used it in a seminar...
a few things:
@misti knight: regarding #1, some music doesn't appeal to the masses? i think that was part of's (and forgive me if i'm interpreting you wrong here point. just who does the music industry and celebrity-industrial complex favor? these light-skinned, long haired (or beweaved) singers. music style (and since rihanna and britney have already been thrown in) talent have little to do with it. #3, i thought babyface could have pushed the envelope a little bit further. if he had sung "soon as YOU get home from work", then i would have officially argued he was on some real progressive ish. as it were he wasn't and it was our loss... but his lyrics aren't as troubling as "cater to you". a sampling:
"when you come home late, tap me on my shoulder and i'll roll over. baby i heard ya, i'm here to serve you. this love you need, to give it is my joy. all i want to do, is cater to you boy." that's ALL she wants to do? damn, can she have a job and life of her own too? maybe there's no sexytime tonight b/c someone has an 8 am meeting! and how about some reciprocity...? (which segues me into my next point below to
also, really you think that's limited to 3 or 4 songs? irreplaceable and me, myself and i are two of the few songs i think deviates from her general message of "i ain't shit without a guy to validate me, and buy me stuff, and complete me. and of course i'll do anything for him" - this includes dangerously in love and halo (which interestingly was meant for another light-skinned, better highlighted singer - leona lewis) i think lauryn hill was one of the few to do something different/neo-soul/not pop to have major mainstream success. i poured one out for career this weekend i miss her so.

M.Dot. said...

Hi Misty,

Thank you for commenting. I will try and address your statements/questions.

I mention Solange, Tiombe, Georgia, Kelis to show that
Neo Soul is a marketing tool.

What I am interested in is what happens to black women singers who ARN'T :
1. Light skinned, blond, curvy.

Who don't:
1. Build base their careers off songs about getting money from men, scheming on men, talking shit about men.

Historically, Adult radio, in the 80's was integrated, and there was room for both light and brown, thick(to a certain extent) and thin women.

Today. Light. Racially ambiguous. Blond. Thin, or perhaps curvy, and thats ONLY if the rest of you is absolutely "gorgeous".

Relationships based on consumption trouble me. Young people take their cues from their families, from their friends and from pop culture.

So, if it is TI or Chris singing similar songs, it is still problematic. The gender of the person is irrelevant. Its your politics that matter.

I am not defining an entire body of work by three songs. I am looking at her most popular songs that support US cultural Hegemony which is comprised by White Supremacist Patriarchal Capitalism.

Thank you for stopping by and saying something.

Yeah I need to get that further selections to make Gramsci talk to PH Collins and J Butler for this to work. I am scared that I have bitten off more than I can chew, but between y'all and God, I think I will be okay.

I am seeing that I am going to have to be really clear in crafting my rationale for song choice.

I am interested in:
1.The singles
2. The songs w/ music videos
3. The songs that normalize janky relationship politics.

I do remember me myself and I, and I may have to account for that. You know what tho homie, that ain't one of her more popular jawns.

That put a ring on it is almost an institution
in and of itself, no?

myra said...

@m. dot: i definitely agree about single ladies. when pres. obama is offering the press a move or two from the video = officially an institution.

i saw why you picked the songs you did, though i think you could accurately sum up beyonce's catalog with your sentence right after "who don't:" although by your new criteria, even though it wasn't all over the place like most of her other stuff, "me, myself and i" was still a single and even had a video... i was going to bemoan the fact that it doesn't quite meet #3 for you, but you know, a clock is right 2 times a day, so i guess beyonce can not be problematic for a song or two... i know someone requested to read your article, i would love to read it as well! i think gramsci, hill-collins and butler would speak to each other well in this context.

**also, thanks for making my already old white lady name into an even older white lady name! /joking :-)

Misty Knight said...

What I am interested in is what happens to black women singers who ARN'T :
1. Light skinned, blond, curvy

I understand what you are saying. However I don't think the formula of "Light skin, curvy, and long hair" are fullproof. Otherwise more ethnically ambiguous singers like Mya, Christina Millian, Amerie, Melody Thourton, and Nicole Schzinger would have booming careers right now. Lord know they've tried.

Who don't:
1. Build base their careers off songs about getting money from men, scheming on men, talking shit about men.

I'm not sure if you are characterizing this as Beyonce's career or just popular music in general.
I really don't think it's accurate either way. Seeing as how today's most popular, and best-selling female artist don't really fit that characterization.
At least not in my book. If you look at Alicia Key's, MJB, or even Mariah Carey-all 3 popular artists who have outsold Beyonce w/o the formula you provided, who are hardly "on the fringes" of mainstream music-so apparently that too is not the typical formula for success in today's pop culture.

However if you ask men, most did complain about the typical "you did me wrong" joints that accounted for a lot of MJB'S career.

And I can't think of one song from Beyonce about "scheming on men, getting money from men".
Now "talkin shyt" maybe. But don't most pop female anthems do that?
Who didn't sing along to "No Scrubs"?

And yes "Single Ladies" is an "instituition"- personally I think its the video that propelled the song into pop culture-not the message.
Or the perceived message.
In fact I still find the response puzzeling.

You should read Gina's take on it at WAOD

lastly no "Me, Myself, and I" are not her most popular songs. But neither are "Video Phone" or "Soldier".
In fact I think that would be "Irreplacable" and "If I were a Boy"-if you wanna get technical about it.

Overall do I think she sings some shallow songs?
Yes. As most pop acts do.

Do I think she has a great hand in normalizing " janky relationship politics"-No.

Misty Knight said...

sorry here is a better link:

Model Minority said...


We seem to have two differnet operating assumptions.

My arguement is that her music normalizes white supremacist patriarchal relationship politics for Black people.

You don't agree, so everything else that I am saying doesn't make sense to you.

See bell hooks.
See Byron Hurt's Barack vs. Curtis

My paper and this post raises three questions.

Why is alight skinned middle class Black woman from the suburbs of Houston perpetually singing about needing a baller when she made $87M in 07-08?

What role does this play in normalizing transactional relationships (money for sex) between young Black people?

What would happen to her career if she stopped?

I have one last question for you:
What is your personal investment in refuting me point by point about the ways in which some of Beyonce's music plays a role in maintaing a system that dominates Black people?

I hope this clarifies my argument?


Misty Knight said...

I don't think my responses are indicative of any more of a "personal investment" then anyother commentors on here that refuted mine.

I just attempted to address your response in the same manner you addressed my intial questions and comments.

As I've said I understand your underline point about materialism and its affect on black relationships.

I just found some of your comments to be inaccurate generalizations based morese on opinion as opposed to facts and lyrical context.

I hope my doing so didn't come off combative or offensive.

-peace and blessings_

K said... wow! I was so thoroughly enjoying the exchange of ideas that I was wholly unprepared for your last reaction to misty...I found her questions provocative, insightful and thorough (, myself, had some of the same questions/reactions to your original post re: your thesis). Rather than make additional comments (which I have as a response to your would-be narrative - the paper hasn't been written yet, right?), I'll simply say that posting your ideas to a blog is a courageous (and really smart) way of unpacking an idea and then offering first rate scholarship based on having several ways to tease out that much as I appreciate your courage, I really appreciate misty's willingness to engage you...ultimately, I hope you will, too.

Model Minority said...

Thank you for your comments.

I honestly HAD NO IDEA that people would react to this paper this way. Its awesome to have folks interested in the project. Writing is lonley.

The personal investment question.
I ask it for two reasons:
Whiteness operates by never naming itself, making itself normal, and by reserving the power to name everything else.

Week three of Women studies taught us to ALWAYS ask the personal investment question. Everyone has a personal investment in a piece of work when they are engaged with it, and that needs to be owned. So I ask it, especially if a person is not aknowledging their assumptions nor engaging with or refuting mine.

My personal investment in writing this piece is that I know that Black women who date drug dealers get murdered and or sent to prison. I care about these women. I saw them in the 80's.

Glamorzing dating d Boys ain't cool.

Writing letters to or going to see your partner in the pen, ain't cool.

In the spirit of being good money, I will respond to her questions.


Model Minority said...

Hey Misty,

Below I have tried to address some of your comments.

If you have manage to find your way back to the post and read them, thank you for being patient.

I organized the response in outline form because I may use the ideas for my paper, and the more organized they are the better.Lols.


How she looks isn't full proof. If that were the case, more women would be mega stars. I am interested in how her beauty, talent, the history of Light skinned Black women performers and the content of her music, How all of these things converge together to the tune of $87M/year.

2.Beyonce compared to others:
Mary, AK, Mariah are similar but not analogous
Mary, AK and Mariah are not posited as the Black women White men, might want to take home to momma, IF they were going to take one home.
The aforementioned Black women are a little bit too "Black" for that. Black being marked as Curvey, brown skinned, and as for Mariah....she is just hood in a way that the Yonce is not.

a.Beyonce receives white shoe advertisements.
According to wikipedia
"Knowles launched her family's fashion line, House of Deréon, in 2004, and has been engaged to endorse such brands as Pepsi, Tommy Hilfiger, Armani and L'Oréal. In 2009, Forbes listed Knowles fourth on its list of the 100 Most Powerful and Influential Celebrities in the world, third on its list of the top-grossing musicians, and number one on the list of top Best-Paid Celebs Under 30 with over $87 million dollars in earnings between 2008 and 2009.[2][3]On December 11th 2009 Beyoncé was named Billboard's Top Female Artist of the Decade and 4th artist overall.[4]
(from wikipedia"

b.Is married to the most popular rappers, in the world, yet refuses to sing about let along discuss him, yet sings continually about needing a baller.

3. Popular Songs
By popular songs I am looking at the songs that a.) have videos b.)are everywhere c.) spawn their own subculture of youtube videos d.) are singles 3.) billboard chart toppers

I am not concerend with shallowness.
And this is where we don't share assumptions.
Culture (music, tv, films, art) normalizes our everyday lives.
It helps us makes sense of the world.

I don't see it as benign and neutral.
Its political.
Its has an agenda.
And it impacts young people.

Given my assumptions about how culture affects us, calling it shallow understates its importance and impact.

I hope this was responsive.

Model Minority said...

Hi Myra,

I am sorry for jacking your name up.

My name is Renina and I stay getting RENITA or RENEDA.

I see what your are saying about my song choices
so I will lay out my rationale for the songs.
Right now they are
1. Billboard topper
2. Danceable Club Songs
3. Singles
4. Has a video
5. Clearly and blatantly lend themselves to normalizing consumption and exchanged based heterosexual relationships.
6. Has spawned or is likely to spawn an youtube cottage industry in and of itself of related videos.

What do you think of this as a framework for the songs?

Beauty Is Diverse said...

Interesting article.

Unknown said...

I was going to post a comment but then I went back up and Misty Knight quite wholly summed up every point I was going to make..except to say that I do agre with the main premise of the paper, I don't think that the examples that you mentioned quite argue the point. I happen to think that Beyonce is close to the modern-day Tina the media (not in the sense of being a domestic violence survivor), but more versatile.

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.

I agree though that somethign is fishy about how she is made to be lighter than she is in photos and is portrayed. I can see on one hand that her sucess has transcended racial boundaries, but er um like Paul Mooney say, once you get a certain level of success, White folks will "take you"...

Unknown said...

One question though? Are there R&B artists who dont have long blond hair (because Black women can have ANY color hair at any time *read Mary J Blige*), who make Pop music and not Neo-Soul who DON'T sing about men and their problems with them etc? 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. 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. Damaging even to male ego and stifling to female ambition. Bottom line, all people form relationships with other because the other person is attractive tothem in some way. Should he be attracted to her because she is sexy or ambitious?

Are you saying that artists who don't fit "the image" are thrust into Neo-Soul-dom? If so, then I would not agree because Destiny's Child has always been pretty much the same, pop, airy AND conforming with the music of their times. They set no trends, they were just beautiful and sold a bunch of records. Since Bey has been solo she has broadened and grown much much more than many artisits who've been out the same amount of time or longer (*read Mary J Blige*).

Maybe we just disagree after all...hmm.

Anonymous said...

No matter how we “contextualize” it, what clever academic analytical grandiose thesis vocabulary we dress it up as hating is hating. It is not easy for us [black, brown, red, yellow folk] to realize [at first] the complexity of internalized racism, self-hatred and hatred of all things black and non-white. It follows it is also not easy to realize when we are consigning our subjugated state of mind to blackness -black people and black culture- particularly when the people and culture embody any of the socially prized characteristics or status that we personally do not possess: light skin, long hair, blond hair, fake hair, blue eyes, thin nose, Botox, size DD implants, designer clothes, celebrity, status, money, money, and mo’ money; let alone a husband that also has a few of them.

To be this far into American History X, the wealth of information available at the end of a few Google key strokes, the current economic collapse and bailout [ala’ Obama] corruption, Worldcom, Enron and Bernard Madoff I can’t imagine anyone proffering a hypothesis that black [brown, red, and yellow] folk “undermine” [thus control and are to blame for] any facet of American or global capitalism.


M.Dot. said...


I have a couple of questions.

No matter how we “contextualize” it, what clever academic analytical grandiose thesis vocabulary we dress it up as hating is hating
What is your intention with this statement?

To be this far into American History X, the wealth of information available at the end of a few Google key strokes, the current economic collapse and bailout [ala’ Obama] corruption, Worldcom, Enron and Bernard Madoff I can’t imagine anyone proffering a hypothesis that black [brown, red, and yellow] folk “undermine” [thus control and are to blame for] any facet of American or global capitalism.
What does this mean?


Lady Dani Mo said...

This is a very interesting post and your paper has a very good thesis. I understand what you are saying I think correct me if I'm wrong. Are you trying to say that Beyonce's image perpetuates the white supermacist patriarchal capitalism that tends to be used in a Black context that is sold to Black audiences? Although she is well liked by many but you think that that her image is damaging to many Black heterosexual relationships because White supremacist capitalism is mainly beneficial to White people on social construction level and Black people internalizing this ideology is damaging? If so I agree. I want others to know that your thesis is not hating or an attack on Beyonce as a person. The criticism is mainly on her image. Since she is one of the biggest Black female artist in mainstream music right now, it would be fair to discuss her. Do you tend to believe that most of her songs are based on monetary consumption when singing about relationships? If so yes it is shallow but that says alot about pop culture and people supporting it.

As far as the topic on White patriarchal in a Black construct, I have long to agree that is damaging to to Black people. I have seen this revert back to this in the millenium era when Hip-Hop music videos changed the image of the women that were featured in the video. Also the R&B female artist that record labels were marketing image was changing. I have to agree with you that there was more room for light skin, brown skin, dark skin Black women regardless of size to be marketed during the 70's-90's era in a Black media and in a dominant media. It seems that times have changed and the Black media reverted to using colorism tactics, white patriarchal tactics to compete against the dominant media or to be keep up with it. Which make sense of the Black media and the dominant media setting Beyonce as the standard for Black beauty. This is problematic because not every Black woman resembles Beyonce and makes for less room for other Black women and diverse Black beauties to make their way on the scene. This is a criticism on capitalism because it puts capital over humans. Back then Black people were concern about uplifting Black people and having us appreciate our beauty. Now we don't care it's all about money and shows that White patriarchal capitalism has done damage to the Black people.

Bianca said...

i've all but given up on writing a logical, coherent response to the comments but i did want to direct you this, which i thought you might find interesting:

M.Dot. said...

@Lady Dani Mo,

Thank you for stopping by, engaging. I am glad you feel safe here.

Are you trying to say that Beyonce's image perpetuates the white supermacist patriarchal capitalism that tends to be used in a Black context that is sold to Black audiences?
Used and rooted in a Black context sold to Global audiences. Yes.

My reading of this comes out of Pat Hill Collin's "Black Sexual Politics."

She talks about J Lo, Yonce and a New Racism in the US. Fascinating.

It seems that times have changed and the Black media reverted to using colorism tactics, white patriarchal tactics to compete against the dominant media or to be keep up with it. Which make sense of the Black media and the dominant media setting Beyonce as the standard for Black beauty.
Black people have been dealing with colorism every sense they were enslaved here.
Whiteness = Freedom.

Peep the old Jet Magazines in Google Books.
ALL the covers in the 60's feature light skinned Black women. Its startling.

In Pimps Up Ho's Down Whiting talks about this notion of a Ascriptive Beauty Aesthetic.

I make the argument for a Beyonce Beauty Aesthetic.
Lightskin, curvy, blond, thin lips/nose, and the ability to conduct a sexy self presentation while not offending Black Folks respectability politics.

I have to agree with you that there was more room for light skin, brown skin, dark skin Black women regardless of size to be marketed during the 70's-90's era in a Black media and in a dominant media. It seems that times have changed and the Black media reverted to using colorism tactics, white patriarchal tactics to compete against the dominant media or to be keep up with it.
I have a list of all the marginalized R & B women.

Currently 20 on it now.

Look forward to your response?
Are you in school too?

Oh. Call me Renina.


M.Dot. said...

@ Bianca,

I left a message on your post.

Your conclusion is really the heart of the piece, in my opinion. I like it because it shows how pop culture influences the ways in which we deal with each other.


Lady Dani Mo said...

Hello Renina sorry for the late reply. Yes I'm currently in school and is a Psychology major. I stopped by your blog because when your article was published on Racialicious, I was intrigued by your thesis of Beyonce's image because I've also wondered how Beyonce's image is influenced by White patriarchal supremacy capatilism. However, I always thought that Black people internalizing the White patriarchal capitalism was never beneficial to Black people. How the hell can we adopt such a divisive ideology in our community, when it has never worked to our advantage in the dominant society?

I like how you made the comment about Beyonce's image being acceptable in mainstream audiences but not offending the Black audiences. Could it be because of her blonde hair and light skin being acceptable in the dominant media, while her curvy body and her ghetto diva swag on top of her light skin being desired and acceptable in the Black media has allowed Beyonce to become successful in both medias? If so, you might have a point Renina.

Regardless, of what some naysayers say about your thesis, I think its very bold of you to write a paper on this because it makes logical sense and being critical of Beyonce causes controversy. I know some Black people can become very defensive of Beyonce because he is so desired and accepted by both Whites and Blacks and if a Black person is accepted by Whites they are special and free from criticism. Which is funny because this pathology was also examined by Langston Hughes in his essay "The Negro Artist and The Racial Mountain" and that was puslished in 1926. I guess as time changes things still remain the same.

Post a Comment

eXTReMe Tracker