Don’t get me wrong, I always liked Beyoncé, okay? From Naughty Girl and Crazy in Love to her Lemonade days, she’s a great performer, a beautiful woman and there’s no doubt that she deserves all her success.
One thing was kind of starting to rub me the wrong way though, and that was the overtop deity-like appearance she seemed to have been adopting as of late. For example, the 2017 Grammys performance, which featured a hologram of her mum Tina, and little girl Blue Ivy, each dressed in gold. Her Virgin Mary-like halo, and the embellished depiction of her own likeness looking down at her twins on the dress’s bodice. Then the pregnancy reveal and later the first picture of the twins, both extravagant, ethereal photos where Bey is depicted as some kind of Mother Nature/Venus/ Virgin Mary amalgamation. ‘What’s the big deal?’ I started to think, ‘She’s hardly the first person to have a baby, this is so unnecessary and OTT!’. To me, this looked like a case of ‘super-inflated-ego-itis’ and it hadn’t occurred to me that there was a totally different perspective from which the whole situation could be viewed.
These are some quotes from the Harper’s Bazaar article by Kellee Terrell, that made me think differently.
“As Brianna Perry at For Harriet writes, in the antebellum south, Black motherhood and reproduction were a means “for the maintenance of the Southern economy and the institution of slavery.” Black babies weren’t looked at as precious or doted on; they were seen as currency. And Black women were forced to have children—often raped—to continue creating labor for King Cotton.”
“According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are almost four times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than our white counterparts, and Black babies are twice as likely as white babies to die before their first birthday. In addition, studies suggest that stress caused by racial discrimination experienced over a lifetime leads to difficulties for Black women giving birth, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Can you imagine all of that weighing on your shoulders? And that’s not even factoring in how police and state violence have dramatically devastated and altered what it means to be a Black mother in 2017.”
“This is why Beyoncé’s baby picture matters—and yes, it is that deep. Beyoncé illuminates all the ways Black women have had to create their own joy and celebrate themselves and their children while living in a world that doesn’t respect, let alone glorify, Black women and motherhood. Given all those obstacles, this resilience and ability to control our own narrative should be celebrated.
Not hated on.”
After reading this, I’ll admit my mind was pretty blown. I’d never considered this before, that Beyoncé’s celebration of motherhood and babies , black motherhood and black babies in particular, as ethereal, beautiful, magical and god-like is actually pretty radical for the main stream media in America. When you really consider the country’s history, and the Black Lives Matter movement, all of the brutality directed at black men, women and children, you can start to see that yes maybe this is over the top, but maybe, just maybe it’s necessary.
And hell, maybe Beyoncé just thought the pics would look nice, and why shouldn’t she take nice pictures if she wants to, even if there’s no rhyme or reason. Either way I agree with the HB writer, black mothers and babies deserve to be uplifted and these gorgeous extravagant pictures are a great way of putting a positive narrative out into a public domain too often dominated by negative press.
Read the full Harper’s Bazaar article by Kellee Terrell, here.