I will admit it. We lost socially conscious America.
Our blogs, articles, and commentary on television and radio asking for Beyoncé to do better and be a more considerate example for a new generation of young women of color went nowhere. Instead, we got pseudo-definitions of feminism, accusatory rhetoric of slut shamming, and unproductive social media taunts and threats.
Sure, it was not like our message wasn't unconventional or went unwarranted. However, after seeing the recent Time cover of Beyoncé and all the back and forth surrounding her image, I began to realize that a new idea should formulate:
Before I elaborate on this, I must first say that this is not an actual jab at Beyoncé, but more of a response to the rest of the world. Sure, Beyoncé is a pop icon, but it's time that women of color and feminists alike begin to shift from trying to impose our beliefs and standards on an individual who obviously couldn't care less and begin to empower those who do seek to enact such change.
For one, Beyoncé is a celebrity who does a little good when it's personally convenient and should not be pushed to do more than what she feels like she should. Sure, it's obvious that she could do more to shape the image of versatility that is the black female image, but if she doesn't want to rise to that occasion, fine. Let's spend more time supporting those female activists who do that in their own respective fields.
Second, Beyoncé should not be given the position and mantle to control the dialogue surrounding black feminism and beauty despite her wealth and public appeal. I'm sorry, but the message we are sending young women of color is that in order to speak on these issues, you have to acquire a certain level of fame or fit the heteronormative patriarchal structure of society. Beyoncé, for all her attempts to counter societal norms, personally fits them quite well, and in spite of her talk about how "Pretty Hurts" and how all women are "Flawless," she will spend an ample amount of time to ensure she is pretty and flawless in just the way society expects.
But it goes without saying that we the socially conscious must cease feeding into the fame that is Beyoncé, for I believe that such media attention does not attempt to educate her and make her do better for the very people she claims to influence but instead fuels the monetary gains that has recently been the only thing getting better in her career.
That is fine for her. She is an entertainer, a businesswoman, and she does that very well. In terms of sales, numbers, and visibility, she is a mastermind. But this same power is not at all shown in the influence that is outside the realm of her own enterprise. And I think if Queen Bey were honest to herself, she would admit it.
In many ways, celebrities like Mrs. Knowles-Carter fall within the trap of actually believing that their mere presence is charity, and the media allows them to, because for over a decade, millions of youth have begun to believe that just listening to a Beyoncé record is enough to make them feel as if they can do anything when in actuality this is not the case.
Pop-culture commercialism has really manipulated our perception by making us think that personal responsibility falls on the afflicted rather than the people who have a moral/social obligation to contribute to their betterment. For example, for all the youth in poverty listening to a Beyoncé or Jay Z record, will their adversity be resolved more by hearing these entertainers' music alone or if aforementioned celebrities actually did real charity work?
But once again, perhaps socially conscious individuals like me are shooting for the stars by hoping that such entertainers did better things. Perhaps this is why it's hard for me not to have a smaller-than-life respect for them, because with so much power they actually do less to improve the world than many others who have less than they have.
So society, stop telling my 9-year-old cousin that she should aspire to be Beyoncé. I actually want her to graduate from high school, go to college, and do more than pursue a career in the music industry. I want her and other young women of color to see themselves beyond making a statement about wearing panties on prestigious magazine covers.
I want them to change the world rather than be fixated on just running it. I want them to be fearless rather than focus on being flawless. I want them to know that hard work hurts, and not just being pretty. I want them to know that not all single ladies have to wait for a man to put a ring on it, but that they can do fine all by themselves or even have a women put a ring on it, if that suits them best. And instead of telling him that they "woke up like this," they can just remind themselves.
These ideals of progress and feminism are what makes me tell the rest of social media and the world why #BeyonceDoesntRepresentUs.
So let's stop acting like she has to. For this is one expectation that the self-proclaimed Queen Bey doesn't have to wait for us to "bow down" to.
I'm still standing. I hope you will to.
Follow Ernest Owens on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrErnestOwens