One of the most devastating things someone has ever said to me was, “Lemonade was good and all, but I really miss White Beyoncé.” If this person hadn’t been a manager at my job, I would’ve told them to meet me outside. It was a reminder that at some point the mainstream media and the majority of white America forgot that Beyoncé is Black. They were so caught up in “Single Ladies”, “Halo”, “Crazy in Love”, and “Irreplaceable” that they temporarily forgot the color of her skin. This was surely helped by the fact that Beyoncé is a very private person, and in the past, she rarely spoke up about political, cultural, or personal issues. To them, she was a docile woman with catchy songs and amazing talent; therefore, she was perfect for their consumption. Now that Beyoncé has put in her time, paid her dues, built her empire, and become an Unstoppable Icon, she can do and say whatever the hell she wants, and that’s what she has been doing for the last eight or nine years. This performance is a great example of that.
If you don’t know by now, then I’m sure you’re probably stranded on an uninhabited island with no cell phone, no internet service, and no carrier pigeons. Beyoncé turned out Coachella. It will never be the same. What is a Coachella? The only thing that I recognize is Beychella, and that’s the bottom line ‘cause Stone Cold said so. For almost two hours, The Queen Bey delivered her best live performance to date with a marching band, a huge entourage of female and male dancers, Wheezing Old Ass Jay-Z, and Destiny’s Child. It was everything. The performance didn’t start until 2:15 am EST after Post Malone’s moldy, Wonder Bread looking ass had the audacity to stand on the stage and cry about being called a culture vulture. Once the band started playing and Beyoncé came down the runway in a gorgeous Nefertiti inspired ensemble, I knew that my neighbors were going to hate me. It was flawless, and the amount of logistical and operational planning that it took to pull off that one-time performance is still something that many people are scratching their heads about. How does she do it?!?
I’m not going to break down the performance and tell you piece-by-piece what my favorite parts are. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to talk about how BLACK (all caps necessary) this performance was. Someone on Facebook said, “Beyoncé’s performance is a love letter to Black people in a white AF space. Period.” I couldn’t agree more. This performance was not for the majority of the cultural appropriating people in attendance at Coachella. It was for Black people, especially Black women. Anyone who says different is clearly a liar. "Why must everything be about melanin. Couldn't it have just been a performance for everybody?" Hell naw! Did you see the same show that I did? Clearly, there were so many nuanced references to Black American culture that most of it went over the heads. They don’t know about Swag Surfin’. They don’t know the importance of Chopped and Screwed music in Houston. The stepping, J-Setting, the probate, the scene where the brothers were at “set” with Big Sister DP Beyoncé, the Drumline performances, or the Fela Kuti homage. They didn't know about any of it, and that's just the top of the iceberg of what she delivered in that performance. I honestly could go on and on.
This performance was not for the people in the audience, but for the people at home…Black people. In my mind, this performance was for any Black person that has ever felt alone and isolated in a white ass space. It was her way of telling all of us to stand up in our shit. Be unapologetically black in these spaces. Physically and mentally “take up” space in these places. Make sure that they know that you’re here. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. When they finally decide to put their racist tendencies to the side and give you an opportunity to shine, you make sure to do it better than anyone has ever done it before. You leave no doubt about your talent and your work ethic. You make it so that they have no choice but to acknowledge you. Remember, the best revenge is your paper so be strategic about it. When they upset you, throw little jibes that will surely go over their head but make all of your other POC co-workers know that you see them and you acknowledge that ya’ll are in the struggle together.
And as always, Beyonce wanted to let Black women know that she sees them. Not only did she call Coachella out for not having a black woman headline the festival before her, she also played the Malcolm X clip, which she featured in “Lemonade”, about the black woman being the most disrespected person in America. You remember that time where folks said that they didn’t think that Beyoncé was a feminist because she never came out and directly stated it? I haven’t heard them talking in a while. Beyoncé makes me so proud to be a black woman, and as one of my friend’s puts it, “She’s the fierceness and [definition] of unapologetic black womanhood we want to embody. She makes us feel recognized.” I couldn’t agree more, especially after last night when I saw the two full figured, curvy women background dancers that she gave a special moment to during one of her songs. Beyoncé sees us, and in a world where so many people don’t, I couldn’t help but walk around with a smile on my face after seeing her on stage. Love God Herself, ya’ll.