Beyonce And The Universal Unspoken Rule Of Success

Beyonce broke the unspoken rule many blacks understand when it comes to climbing the ladder of success, and we are happy she did

Beyonce, Superbowl 2016

Article originally published on The Black Aristrocat

Like many black Americans around the world, we were all witness to the awesomeness of Beyonce’s empowering performance. Yes, the dancing and singing was nice, but it was the imagery and pageantry in which she performed that struck many Americans.  Blacks and most Americans loved it however; there were a few who took special umbrage with such a decidedly ‘black’ performance.

Almost immediately there was pushback from those decrying the message of highlighting Black Lives Matter-continuing the false (often obligatory privileged) narrative that this is an attack on police. Others were offended by the clear Black Panther homage or the Malcolm X “formation”. Now I can easily write an entire post on how none of these things are a form of “divisiveness” and/or “black supremacy”,  the latter not even a real thing. Instead I want to focus on what millions of African Americans found so intuitively gratifying about the performance. Beyonce reminded the world that she is a Black woman who happens to be successful, not the other way around.

There is unspoken rule African Americans understand when we begin to move up the corporate ladder. We understand that in order to progress successfully throughout life in our career, we have to seemingly strip away any form of “blackness” and “heritage” in order to be considered and ultimately fit in. It is why when we interview, we “code switch” our voice, we walk differently, laugh differently.  For men we consistently assess our physical demeanor to not be considered too aggressive, women’s plight is to not seem so “sistah girl”, whether that means curving their hairstyle or style of dress. In turn, when we get the position, there is an understanding that you have to ultimately leave your blackness at the door, do not rock the boat by reminding the office that white privilege is evident in the culture of the office, and for the love of God DO NOT bring up social issues around the water cooler. If you think I am wrong, I want to provide you with an (unfortunate) example.

When the Murder of Trayvon Martin happened, Black Americans were shocked and saddened (still are). The moment the news broke, it was almost like a symbiotic simultaneous telepathic conversation happened to millions of blacks across the country.  We all knew that had Trayvon not been a black child, then George Zimmerman would not have taken the aggressive actions he fatefully took that night. President Barack Obama, a black man, also received that message as well. His response, “Trayvon could have been my son” was met with anger and frustration from those who criticized him for invoking race into the conversation. If you think I am being extreme, then we can also look at President Obama’s response to the Charleston shooting, and again the same group of people wondering why he has to bring race into every conversation. These are the same people who state emphatically that it is President Barack Obama’s fault why the nation is so divided. Imagine that, a black man is being blamed for whites not feeling included in society – it is almost comical if this were not real life. The unspoken rule for Obama upon his fateful inauguration was that we will allow you to be President, as long as you do not remind the world that you are Black. He broke that promise apparently.

How does this involve Beyonce?

What happened Sunday Night was Beyonce’s reminder to the greater world, that despite her vast amounts of success, acclaim and wealth. She was and is still a black woman living this country. One of the most intriguing aspects of her performance was the incredible risk she took in that reminder. I am not here to say that Beyonce is an activist or a revolutionary, what I am saying is she took a revolutionary stance in reminding the world of her deep blackness (made clear from her declaration of her connection with Louisiana-Alabama-Texas).  Many black Americans do not have the luxury to walk into an interview as Ben Carson and once they get the job,  release their inner Malcolm X. We understand that some of  white America  still has a distinct (antiquated) idea of what and how a black person is supposed to conduct themselves in the greater society. This is not only learned intrinsically, but through external teaching by way of society and in some cases our parentage.

Some mainstream fans do not want their favorite black celebrities to remind them of obvious culture features. This has been true from boxer Joe Louis all the way to actor Will Smith. You have often heard “why is ___________ complaining about racism, THEY ARE RICH and FAMOUS!!” It is as if almost being successful is supposed to wash away any connection to your black upbringing and cultural connection.

So it is okay for Beyonce to sing and dance and remind the world how “bootylicious” her body is, but for God’s sake DO NOT bring up social issues or remind the world, just how black you really are.

Be Blessed

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  2. […] going to transform into for the time being. Look, I’m not saying to pretend to be Beyonce and forget about being yourself. It’s more like channel your inner diva/divo and exude that […]

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