Originally published on huffingtonpost.com
You should love Beyoncé. Yeah, that’s right. I said you should love Beyoncé. You shouldn’t love her because she’s beautiful. You don’t even need to like her music. You should love Beyoncé, because she’s a black woman at the top of her game. We need it.
I’ve been a proud member of the BeyHive for some time now. Sometimes, I’ve purposely annoyed friends and colleagues alike with my passion for all things Beyoncé. Often, I’m pushed to defend just why I’m such a big fan. Queen Bey celebrated a birthday on Thursday. Lots of her fans offered shout-outs on social media, but as usual, I noticed plenty of Beyoncé haters trying to crash the party. It got me thinking: Aside from actually enjoying her music, exactly why am I on the Beyoncé brand bandwagon?
The reason: Beyoncé fills an important role in our culture.
We live in a world where black women are often told we’re not enough. Society is obsessed with our hair. It can still be a struggle for us to find the right shade of makeup at the drug store. We’re apparently less likely to get married. We’re more likely to die from breast cancer. The list of daunting stats pertaining to us really goes on and on. These are the messages about black women the mainstream media pushes out most of the time. In 2014, some big television networks still need public pressure to put black women on the air. Remember all the hype about finally casting a black woman on Saturday Night Live? Seriously. Why did it take all that? Let’s not even talk about what went down with Pam Oliver at Fox Sports.
Beyoncé is a black woman adored by millions around the world for her talent. She didn’t rise to fame on a reality show. She did it the old fashioned way. She earned it through hard work. She’s a black woman who dropped an album, went on tour and dominated the awards show circuit all within the past year. She’s a black woman with control over content and her own creativity. She has power. The kind of influence that rivals Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.
This is a part of the American dream black women are too often shut out of, even those in Beyoncé’s same industry. Black women who work hard should be recognized and paid top dollar for their talents. Beyoncé has reached the pinnacle of such. Sure, most of us won’t make Beyoncé money, but that’s not the point. The reality is according to U.S. Census Bureau data, African-American women earn just 70 cents for every dollar paid to men, and just 64 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. If Beyoncé’s celebrity can inspire any of us to push past those barriers, I’m going to rock with her.
Now sure, some of you are thinking but she’s an entertainer. An entertainer who dances around scantily clad at that. She also wears weaves and is a light-skinned black woman. Things the mainstream may accept with greater ease. It doesn’t matter. She’s still a black woman who has reached a level success that needs to be seen. Anytime a black woman is valued on a level like Beyoncé is, it’s a win for us all.
Beyoncé has also managed to maintain quite a bit of moral dignity in a business that makes it difficult. She got married first, then had a baby. We’ve never seen a leaked sex tape from her. Aside from Jay Z and Solange’s elevator-gate, Beyoncé’s never been a celeb caught up in any serious public nuisances. She’s represented pretty darn well.
On the real though, I’m using “love” a bit loosely here. You don’t need be an obsessive Beyoncé fan. You don’t need to go download all her music. Just recognize black female excellence for what it is. Beyoncé is that.