For as much as I love Black people, I also understand that we have a tendency to be divisive. Some will argue that it comes from our tribal roots in Africa where neighboring culture groups warred with one another. Others will point to slavery and Jim Crow for the reason we, African Americans specifically, can’t come together on one accord. Then there are some folks who think it’s just human nature to point out distinguishing characteristics.
For Black folk across the diaspora, I see this division most clearly when it comes to color. In a White dominated society, where White people control everything from the money to the beauty standards, the closer you are to White, the more likely you’re granted privilege in this world.
On her latest album The Lion King: The Gift, Beyoncé wanted to change the narrative and celebrate darker skinned Black women who don’t often get recognized and celebrated as beautiful in society and in the entertainment industry specifically.
With lyrics like, “Melanin too dark to throw her shade” and calling out women like supermodel Naomi Campbell, actress Lupita Nyong’o and her sister-friend Kelly Rowland, it was clear who Beyoncé was speaking to when she said skin “just like pearls.” It’s a song the Black community at large should be able to appreciate and love. But it was specifically for darker skinned Black women. Full stop.
Yet, there was an intense debate about whether it applied to all Black women, regardless of complexion. There were even those who argued that any woman of color with Brown skin could include herself in the number. It was a shame people chose to be intentionally obtuse and even worse, took a moment from the marginalized women Beyoncé went out of her way to celebrate.
I don’t know if Bey Bey was privy to the conversations happening about her song or she was overwhelmed by its reception. Either way, last night she posted a compilation video of mostly dark skinned women singing the song and loving on themselves in the process.
It could have been a subtle clarification but regardless of her intention, I think the message is clear, she said what she said.
The IG post sent Twitter into a frenzy with people pointing fingers and saying, essentially, “we told you so.”