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Blonde Ambition & Black Power

Are you familiar with the childhood story the “Emperor’s New Clothes?”

Well, in it, there’s a king (aka an emperor) who’s walking a parade route naked. That Emperor is parading down the street with absolutely no clothes on, making a complete fool out of himself, but nobody dares to say anything because, after all, he is the emperor.  That is, until, the Emperor makes his way past one small child who’s staring in disbelief; partly because the emperor is totally naked but mostly because the emperor’s walked past tons of other people and nobody had the stones to say, “hey Emperor, you’re naked!” So, upon finally realizing that nobody else is going to say anything, the little child finally blurts out, “But he (the Emperor) isn’t wearing anything at all!”

That’s a brave kid, no?  To just say what everyone else was thinking, but was too beholden to the emperor to say.  Well, it’s in the spirit of that kid that I’m going to say the obvious thing that probably needs to be said about Beyonce’s latest single,” Formation.”  I think, in many ways, Beyonce came through with the win for on this track.  Formation is a catchy song, its video has brilliant visuals and a powerful message.  But I have to ask:  Does anyone else think it was odd that Beyonce performed a “Black Power” tribute in a long, blonde weave?

Now, we’ve all been staring at Beyonce and her hair long enough to know that if she wanted to wear an afro, she very well could have; all she’d need to achieve the look is a few buckets of water and a blow dryer to the scalp.  So the question is, if she could have achieved the look, why didn’t she?  If she loves “afros” and “negro” noses, like she claims, what’s with the long, blonde, weaves and the heavily (cough, cough) “contoured” nose, she’s always sporting?

I think the answer probably lies somewhere in the unspoken truth that one of the major components of Beyonce’s crossover success has been her ability to make her ethnic features as inconspicuous as possible. Long blonde weaves and a thin, subtle nose have made her more user friendly to fans all over the world.  And the irony of that fact is with that her song “Formation;” she’s now embracing the very look she elected to abandon in order to achieve this level of success in her career.  And, so yeah, she loves the Afros on her dancers and, large nostrils on the Jacksons but she still knows that she’d better not go near them herself, as they’ll compromise her marketability.  In fact when she did sport a curly, natural look for a brief period back in 2002(before the release of her first solo album), she told Vibe magazine (October 2002) she didn’t know how much longer she’d maintain the style because “I wake up looking like a crack- head.”

Now, to be clear, I’m not faulting nor am I criticizing her majesty, Queen Bey for her style of tress, because weave or no weave, releasing that video is still a gutsy move.  Secondly, I understand that every artist much express herself in a way that makes her comfortable and if she’s not comfortable changing her hair, that’s her business.  And lastly, I’d never come for her for being blonde because it will only take a quick Google search to see that on many occasions, I have worn blonde highlights, myself (and that stuff snapped my hair right off, lol!) *BUT, I’ve never purported to be the leader of the new black revolution.

My only point is you can tell people whatever you’d like to tell them, but people rarely example their behavior of off what you tell them, they example their lives off of what you actually do.  She can put everyone from her dancers to her daughter in an afro, but it won’t be until Beyonce is comfortable wearing her own hair and her natural nose; because she believes them to be no hindrance to her appeal, that the revolution she claims to seek will actually be televised.


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