I could speak English perfectly, but I was still not fitting in.
That’s the thing with language- you can speak it and the words can sound right, but if you don’t have the cultural know how, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
My case wasn’t helped by my second hand clothing or the long braid that brushed against my waist. I was a 6th grader and I felt very alone.
I don’t particularly know how it happened but two of the black girls in my classroom invited me over to step with them and became my friends. If any of y’all have ever had the pleasure of seeing me do anything with my body, let me say this: coordination is not a strength. I am hella awkward. I trip and stumble on nothing regularly and have tripped going down stairs. It is a gift.
Black women would later make different avenues of expression available to me- things like intersectional feminism, and now Beyonce.
One of the things that has made me so attached to Ms. Knowles is that I have grown with her- not just in age but in philosophy. I remember bopping my head to “No, No, No” (the remix, that part 1 was just not my jam) and I would be hard pressed to think that Beyonce considered herself a feminist. I sure as hell didn’t think of myself in that way.
Fast forward a couple of decades- she has sung about “Independent Women” and talked about Feeling herself and has boldly declared herself a Feminist and backed that up without apologies. Beyonces back up musicians are all women. Beyonce seeks out other women. Beyonce will talk about being drunk in love and about her sexuality and she does not give two craps about your opinions.
Has she misstepped? Nasty girl comes to mind, goodness, that song is a slut shaming, body policing, hot mess.
I am hard pressed to think that today’s Beyonce would sing it- not the one who would tell us about how to earn a Red Lobster meal from her.
Beyonce’s feminism- like Pokemon- has evolved. I too slut shamed other women. And then I become a feminist. And Then I became an intersectional feminist. And finally a womanist/mujerista- a philosophy that embraces the brown and black experiences of women and that casts its net wider, and wider to reach the disenfranchised.
My am excited to see where I will be ten or twenty years down the road- and where Beyonce’s gonna take me.