A close girlfriend included me on an email chain where she shared this article about Rutgers University offering a course on Beyoncé to “explore race, gender, and sexuality through the lens of one of America’s hottest entertainers.”
Two women in the email chain gave the notion a “side eye” without elaborating. I had a different reaction. Below is my response:
Good share, [name omitted]. You know I don’t think with a social/political lens; I usually look at things with a branding/business filter. With that said, I don’t know enough about the instructor’s intentions or course of study to declare this a worthwhile course. I do, however, believe Beyonce has a lot of influence, in terms of women’s roles in society. I think she’s responsible for popularizing the “independent woman” persona and I’ve enjoyed watching that morph into the well-rounded “I can upgrade you” but I can also “cater to you” b/c you’re my man and you’re worth it. The way she turned herself into a multi-dimensional brand is noteworthy, and she’s the reason a lot of men say they’re looking for “a Beyonce” which they liken with an equal partner.
In terms of the skin bleaching…based on my knowledge, she did not bleach her skin—her sponsors photoshopped her skin to appear lighter (which happens without the talent’s approval all the time, e.g. Jennifer Hudson was pissed when she saw her record label photoshopped her to appear thinner for her album cover). Yes, Bey stays in a weave (does that bother people?), but I’ve never worn a weave and you know I’m not the most socially/politically aware and responsible person :), so you can’t say her not wearing her natural hair is an indication of anything.
She is a black woman and I think she reminded (or enlightened) black and non-black folks to look at black women as beautiful, wholesome, respectable, fashionable, sexy, classy, polite, and hard working. I think she’s been a huge influence for our generation, and although the fact that she does the following things (wears a weave, married a black man, talks/walks/moves/dresses, and champions independence) like a lot of Black women does not make her worthy of a college course, I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss the course’s potential validity and discredit her positive influence and contributions.
…Am I totally off here? Like I said, we look at things with different lenses, so holla if I’m totally barking up the wrong tree!
What do you think? Is Beyoncé a worthy muse to “explore race, gender, and sexuality?”
(photo credit: Fashion Bomb Daily)