“Be careful what you set your heart upon– for it will surely be yours.” -James Baldwin
I was at my aunt’s 60th birthday party recently, and I happened to catch my five year-old niece singing mid-song. It didn’t completely hit me until that moment: I have an irrational hatred for Beyonce.
Part of it is because she reminds me of my sister– a much younger, over-the-top version of my sister who was always Diana Ross when I needed someone rational and diplomatic.
Part of it is because we’re from the same town and we’re the same age, which means that she shouldn’t be more successful than me.
Part of it is because I have no real talent to exploit, and I always wanted to be a dancer.
Part of it is because she was invited to sing at President Obama’s Inauguration ball, and I took that shit personally.
If I’m honest, I would say that I hate Beyonce because she seems to effortlessly assimilate into mainstream white culture, while simultaneously hailing that Black Lives Matter. I hate her because I believe her to be an opportunist who has capitalized on her sexuality and the sexualization of black bodies in order to make a profit, and who has profited from black trauma. I hate her because millions of little girls and adult women I respect will be persuaded to get in formation behind her.
Since we’re the same age, I feel as if we’ve grown up together. Overcome the same emotions and fought the same battles at similar times: understanding how to navigate changing relationships, understanding who we are in relation to other people, understanding who we are after a traumatic and unexpected loss, trying to make peace with our own complexities.
The most frustrating part about my hatred for Beyonce is that it doesn’t satisfy me. It doesn’t accomplish anything. It doesn’t produce anything. It doesn’t solve anything.
I honor the vision, success and beauty of women– even those who bring about my own insecurities, even those whose vision I don’t always understand. But I want to live in a world that is kinder to women as I recognize her persona to be a symptom of a very western disease.
I want something more for my niece.