What Sarah Palin Taught Me About Beyonce

by Guest Contributor M. Dot, originally published at Model Minority

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.

But 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 light skinned and talented, and while all the rest remain pretty marginalized.

Kelis. Amel. Tiombe. Georgia Ann Muldrow. Algebra. Aaries. Goapele, Solange.

Estelle, Chrisette, and 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 (the) 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 advice. She suggested that I read Summer’s piece about how Beyonce is simply 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 Palin.

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 career.

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 creates.

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 about 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 nearly $1 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 is for the women that I know of from East Oakland, California, who have gotten shot in the face, kidnapped, stuffed 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.