Yeah, Beyoncé might be a terrorist.**
by P. Braithwaite
**I’m a little late on writing about this (because I don’t really care), but feminist scholar, bell hooks referred to Beyonce as ‘a terrorist’ in her panel discussion, Are You Still a Slave: Liberating the Black Female Body.
So, like the rest of
black America, I have seen the Jay and Bey super trailer complete with machine guns, drunk driving, piles of money, cliché gangster-movie lines, a scantily clad bank robbery, an impressive parade of white actors and……Don Cheadle.
I was so confused and disturbed by the trailer that I showed it to a friend of mine who seemed to age five years while watching it. It’s an three minute assault of disturbing images with very little connective tissue. I hope I never have to see it again.
I’m not easily outraged, but…yeah. Too much.
After my friend watched it (he claimed to see a scene where Beyoncé and Jay-Z are drinking while driving. I didn’t see that part, but I refuse to watch it again to confirm), we chatted a bit.
“So, do you think Beyoncé is a terrorist?’ my friend joked.
I’m pretty sure I shrugged and continued eating my cannoli.
“Well, the argument is that she has a moral obligation?”
“Don’t we all?”
“Yeah…but with her fame and reach, it would seem her’s might be greater..”
I’m pretty sure I shrugged again.
My feelings about Beyoncé are complex. I recognize her talent (mostly her indestructible work ethic), but don’t condone her choices. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent most of her career shrugging with confusion. I feel like Beyoncé REGULARLY makes ridiculous songs (like the ode she wrote to Jayz’s penis or that ‘feminist anthem’ where she told us to bow down, bitches), but because she rarely speaks, we’ve sort of collectively decided that there’s probably depth behind her songs. That said — I cannot criticize her moral obligation without examining my own. I can’t give her more obligation than I’m willing to accept.
Though, I admit, it’s tempting.
Here’s my theory: We’re all born with equal amounts of moral obligation. This moral obligation is intrinsic and has very little to do with external resources. That said, every day we’re supposed to do our part to hit some quota. People with more aren’t MORE obligated to do their best. We should all be doing our best for the collective. What would the world look like if we were all living into our ‘moral obligation’?
I don’t know about you, but every single day I fall short of my moral obligation.
Every single day, I turn blind eyes and I judge. I neglect and ignore. I’m impatient and sometimes I’m unkind. I watch VH1 and E. I monitor Khloe Kardashian’s weight. I don’t even attempt to minimize my carbon footprint. Now, I do great things too, but there are a million little ways I contribute to the problem, and actively avoid generating solutions.
Beyoncé exists because I let her. We let her. She’s a product of a culture we’re all enmeshed in. Pointing at her, even with her reach and fame, is an attempt to put a bandaid on a hemorrhage.
We all need to lean into our obligations.
I’m not saying Beyoncé isn’t a terrorist, but I refuse to make myself a saint by comparison. I think, if we each fulfilled our moral obligations we might rely less on Beyoncé. We must learn to pick our leaders wisely.
That f*cking tour trailer is like100 types of wrong…