Apr 26, 2012 @ 9:34 am | By TheFeministGriote | 4 Comments
People magazine recently revealed it’s most beautiful person of the year. This year the title goes to non other than Creole Lady Marmalade herself, Beyonce.People magazine has been compiling this list for the past 22 years now, and the last time a woman of color won the honor was in 2003. Halle Berry was the first Black woman to win the “honor.” The list is a bit ridiculous to me. The definitions of beauty is solely based on a man or woman’s desirability factor. It doesn’t take into account if they are an awesome citizen of the world, how have they advanced humanity, or what they’re doing to save the earth. This list purely exists to congratulate those who won the lottery in the human gene pool. Which even that feat is purely due to the genetic makeup of their parents. With there being about 700 billion people on earth it’s safe to say we are not all going to agree on who is the fairest of them all.
Beyonce being a woman of color and being only one of two to grace the cover, I thought for sure we the collective kin folk would be happy to see our sister on the cover. What I witnessed was many Black women partaking in otherizing a Black woman. When the news was announced it was as if someone had set fire to my Twitter timeline. There was a whole host of Black women who felt that it was an affront to their Blackness that Beysus was on the cover. There were comments like she isn’t Black enough, she subscribes to the European ideals of beauty, she is light-skinned, and therefore profiting from her light-skinned privilege. In essence her cookie-cutter girl next door looks is not considered “real” enough for many!
I guess since Beyonce isn’t an Erykah Badu who is also a light-skinned Black woman with natural green eyes, but Badu’s Blackness would never come under attack, because she is an Afrocentric b-girl, who wears her Blackness like a bold blinding accessory. I must admit I am not a fool. I am a brown woman who wears her hair in a natural. I am all too familiar with the politics of colorism. But what I am not completely understanding is the need to want to castigate Beyonce for not being “real.”
Yes Beyonce like many Black folks claims Native American heritage. I am not saying that is not true for her or those who claim such heritage, but I like to consider myself like Zora Neale Hurston considered herself, “I am the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief.” So Beyonce wants to position herself as a sister who is part Native American, African American, and French (although someone should’ve told Bey that French is not a race). I will agree that advertisers tend to lighten her up way too much at times, but then again it is customary for photos to undergo wizard spells aka photo shop. In Beyonce’s defense all women in the media are not represented in their true authentic selves.
The People magazine list is essentially a popularity contest. Only the most easily recognizable and profitable stars will make the cover. As people of color why are we so fixated on the white gaze? There are plenty of Black magazines that are in print that could replicate an all Black version of the People list. After all Black magazines soul purpose for existing is to reaffirm and validate the richness and diversity of Blackness that is absent in the mainstream, right?
It makes me uncomfortable when we as Black women start to compare ourselves to one another and start minimizing another Black woman’s beauty, as not being authentically Black enough. Colorism is real, but it remains real, because so many of us invest our energy in making sure that it thrives politically. We should celebrate Bey and keep it moving. Yes we know that there could have been many other Black women that are cover girl worthy, but Bey is on the cover and we should applaud that. Personally Viola Davis, Angela Basset, Nia Long, Jill Scott could’ve easily graced that cover in my opinion. As people of color we have a right to talk back to the dominant narrative that always seeks to water us down and explain our diversity away, but let us not turn on our own because her nose and skin complexion is not dark or wide enough.
If there were to ever be a race war in this country, I don’t see white folks letting Beyonce pass for anything other than what she is. There is a fine line between critiquing colorist politics and critiquing someone for being on the lighter side of the Black spectrum. Please familiarize yourself with the difference.
Categories: The Temple of My Familiar