This week on the anniversary of Lemonade, Beyonce announced her new initiative the Formation Scholars designed to (as stated on Beyonce.com), “encourage and support young women who are unafraid to think outside the box and are bold, creative, conscious and confident. Four scholarships will be awarded, one per college, to female incoming, current or graduate students pursuing studies in creative arts, music, literature or African-American studies. The schools selected for participation are Berklee College of Music, Howard University, Parsons School of Design and Spelman College.” As most of the world celebrated Beyonce taking up this initiative, The New York Times journalist Vanessa Friedman decided not to focus on Beyonce trying to advance educational attainment for young women but instead chose to focus on Beyonce’s pregnancy.
Yet again Black women are blessed with another White woman speaking about a Black woman’s body. OH GOODY!!! THANK YOU!!!
You know every day that I wake up, I am just dying for White women to write articles about my hair, body, lips or hips. The list is endless of the analysis of Black women and our appearance. I don’t know how I would get through my life unless a White woman told me what I should think about myself.
I wondered if Friedman wanted to speak about Black women and pregnancy why not use such a high-profile pregnancy and her platform to draw attention to the health inequities many expecting Mothers of Color face? Draw attention to how poverty, lack of employment and education can impact the health of a newborn. Highlight the fact that a growing body of evidence points to racial discrimination as to the reason so many Black babies are dying. Write about the fact that the infant mortality rate is 2.4 times higher among Black infants than White infants. Use the popularity of Beyonce to highlight something that can actually impact the readers. But of course, that is asking for too much. Why would she want to write about any of that when she can tell us that Beyonce is setting the bar too high because she dances to Formation while pregnant?
In the article, Friedman states that Beyonce has set the bar “uncomfortably” high not just for pregnant women in the public eye but pregnant women in general. Set the bar too high? Too high for who? You? Beyonce is living her life. She is pregnant. Not dying. I love how Beyonce is criticized in the article for doing her job yet, Friedman celebrates Amal Clooney, who is also pregnant with twins, as someone who, “has effectively gone about her business, appearing last month in the United Nations to talk about the female victims of the Islamic State.” So how do you criticize Beyonce who is effectively doing her job but celebrate Amal for doing her job? Should Beyonce apologize because her job entails singing in sold out stadiums? Beyonce is an entertainer. Her job is to entertain. She didn’t sign up to entertain White women in a way that would make them feel less intimidated by her. Same with Serena Williams. One of the greatest tennis players this world has ever known and once again Friedman feels it is her business to say how Serena should celebrate her pregnancy stating, “here’s hoping she does so in a humanizing style.” What it really sounds like she is saying is, “I cannot believe these Black women are achieving such a level of greatness in their lives and doing it while pregnant. Who do they think they are?”
Listen, Beyonce, Serena and Black women around the world do not owe you shit. Black women have worked in your fields, your homes, your kitchens, for nothing. Black women didn’t have the time to celebrate their pregnancies because their bellies were swollen with a child due to rape by your husbands. Black women didn’t have time to enjoy their pregnancies because they knew they would be birthing them into a life of hell on your plantations. And when Black women did have babies they couldn’t worry about nursing their own babies because they had to play wet nurse to yours. As a Black woman, trust me when I say, we have paid our dues. We are no longer indentured servants to your feelings of inadequacy. Did Beyonce set the bar high? You’re damn right she did! Did Serena set the bar high when she won the Australian Open while pregnant? You’re damn right she did! Does every Black woman that aspires to greatness set the bar high? You’re damn right we do!
Our ancestors didn’t just give birth; our ancestors birthed A NATION! We were raised knowing to get half as much as anything that someone like Friedman has we would have to work twice as hard. You have no understanding of what it means and how much work it takes to be great and Black in this world. We will never lower the bar to fit your standards. I suggest you no longer write anything that discusses Black women and our bodies unless it is done in a way to bring awareness to the systems that are designed to continue breeding the injustice that this nation continues to deny that benefit women like you. Until you do that I suggest buying a pair of sunglasses, so you do not get blinded by our shine!
Featured Photo: Giphy
Article Photos: Giphy, Beyonce.com