I’m late. I know. But back during Women’s History Month in March I was sorta pre-occupied with building Black girls’ sense of self-worth and appreciation for Black women’s history when I heard through the Twitterverse that Beyonce, er “Queen Bey,” was a little busy herself making them bow down…and calling them bitches to boot. Oh my.
She offered a sneak release to her upcoming album with the single, Bow Down Bitches/I Been On where she sings, ” I know when you were a little girls you always dreamed of being in my world. Don’t forget it Don’t forget it. Don’t forget it. Bow down bitches. Bow down bitches.”
When I heard these lyrics I thought perhaps there had been some mistake. Surely this was not ingenious artistry of the grown and mature Mrs. Carter who less than two months before had graciously performed for the inauguration in this nation’s capitol and promptly followed with a commandeering Super Bowl half-time show that not only held the world captive, but was delivered with such an electric force it is rumored that she caused a 30 minute blackout of the stadium.
But so much for dignity and excellence. I guess street cred trumps all of that when you want to silence haters, or force your contemporaries to deem you the “queen.”
No doubt, Beyonce Knowles Carter is an entertainment icon. She will forever be listed in the herstory books as one of the greatest performers in America’s history. A living legend indeed.
In fact, she would have fit perfectly on the legacy wall I created for the Girls Like Me Women’s History Month Pampered Power Talk.
This legacy wall included photos of legacy-builders such as Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Dorothy Height, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maya Angelou, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, Marian Wright-Edelman and Oprah Winfrey.
Powerful women who have been pioneers and set standards of excellence in their respective fields. The legacy wall was a wall of inspiration for little girls who dream of being in the worlds created by the women exhibited.
I try to imagine Mary McLeod Bethune demanding Dorothy Height to bow down. My mind wonders what transformative spirits amongst the ancestors lorded over those behind them with mockery. I mean I am so grateful I have never heard Mother Maya Angelou publicly decry her contemporaries or those little girls like me who were looking up to her with pride and ambition in our eyes.
One has to ask…what is the intention?
Many have come out advocating in defense of Beyonce and her lyrics to this song. Artistic expression and what not.
Yet, I am not a Beyonce advocate…I advocate for those little girls who are dreaming of being in Beyonce’s world. The little girls who believe Beyonce’s world of celebrity, fame and independent wealth are their saving grace, a world away from the poverty and marginalization they face in their own realities. As much as some entertainers would love to believe their music is in some sentry-guarded airwave where children’s access is limited, the reality is children are the majority of those listening to corporate owned-media, the entities through which artists relay their products. The truth of the matter is our girls are looking to us for the tools to help them navigate their real worlds. Like it or not, we (adults) are their models for the appropriate behaviors and response when interacting with other girls/women…our sisters.
I am in awe when I think of the backlash had Bow Down Bitches/I Been On been written and performed by a male artist. Come to think of it, I shudder to know the production team surrounding her during the making of this song was male-centered. What if there had been a circle of creative sisters who could have assisted Mrs. Carter in articulating her stance in a much more uplifting message.
But then again, everyone does not embrace their responsibility to uplift.
Still the girls are dreaming of being in our world…what kind of world are we creating for them?
Am I overreacting…what kind of message do you believe the song sends to girls?