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4 Lessons Beyonce and Jay Z Can Teach Us About Business

Culture & Entertainment

Long live the Queen! And King, of course.


Now, I'm not talking about the residents of the Buckingham Palace. I'm talking an all-around power couple as they're far bigger than Hip-Hop -- Beyonce and Jay Z -- who have made yet another power play, reminding us just who they are and what they came to do.

The couple recently collaborated on an album, Everything is Love, that is potentially the final piece to the puzzle that their latest solo albums, Lemonade and 4:44 painted for us. With it, it further weaves tales of infidelity, love, and growth.

Gloriously, the album's cover art speaks for the unapologetic nature of the album as the couple spits about life from the top, their love for one another; and social issues, including the colorism spewed at Jay's facial features.

In true Carter fashion, they dropped the album without warning, in the dusk. And with ease, the album is doing numbers. Knowing them and the power of the Beyhive, those numbers have the potential to surpass those of every other artist who's released an album in recent weeks, including Pusha T, Nas, and Kanye. But what's more than Beyonce pulling a Beyonce is what we can learn from the couple on building our own empire in the undefeated way that they've done for themselves over the years.

Lesson 1: All publicity really is good publicity.

I won't pretend to know Bey's stats and the numbers she was doing before a billion dollars caused sh*t to go down in the elevator. What I do know is that Bey and Jay spun that embarrassing, private moment on the elevator into an additional gold mine to sit on top of.

Furthermore, they did so better than any PR team could have. Prior to that incident, the couple was consistently mum AF about their relationship. The only thing we knew for sure was that they were married but everything else after that bit was public speculation and lots of reaching.

However, after the world was able to witness that cigars weren't the only thing on ice in that marriage, they decided to start dishing out little details here and there. It all began with the "Feelin' Myself" track, where Bey comes out of her graceful public persona (maybe embodying Sasha Fierce?) and responded to the rumors.

They went on to sell out stadiums worldwide on a joint tour (the inaugural On The Run tour) and then created syncramonius albums about the ongoing endurance of their relationship. Spilling all the lemonade, because they gave us more through this one album Lemonade than they've given us over the course of their nearly 20-year relationship.

A couple years later and they're spinning that straw into gold like a modern day Rumpelstiltskin, forever making money off the infamous incident with their past collaborations and the latest, Everything is Love.

Let this be business lesson number one, because really and truly there is no one event you can't bounce back from. It's not about what happened, it's a matter of good damage control.

Lesson 2: There's still value in mystique.

Aside from the occasional and strategic glimpses into the couple's marriage, we know nothing about the Carters, making fans all the more curious. Is Jay like any other man? Is he an active and doting dad? Does he recognize and I mean truly recognize that he's got the baddest chick in the game wearing his chain?

Essentially, we're all dying to know if they go through everyday marital issues or if their status affords them the luxury of bypassing all the bullshit.

Yet, they have mastered the art of keeping their fanbase guessing and anticipating their next move all the while giving them what they want, while leveraging their personal life as a business venture. A brand.

In a world saturated by social media creating the illusion of bigger, better, and more — sometimes you just have to shut up and move in silence until your masterpiece is ready for the world.

The world doesn't need to hear you coming for them to see you once you've arrived.

Lesson 3: Do what you have to do, to do what you want to do.

Like anyone in the music game, Bey and Jay paid their dues entering the game, forced to follow the analysis of current trends.

However, at this point and at the top of the game, they got options. And it's in part due to them staying the course in the beginning of their career, gaining the status, and bringing in a steady stream of revenue for their respective labels at the time.

Beyonce and Jay Z have reached a point in their careers where they can do what they want to do and not give an "eff" about numbers. It's evident in how they both have moved musically in their respective careers. Jay's trajectory into his latest 4:44, as well as professionally not feeling the need to say "yes" to every enticing offer (ahem, Superbowl). It's the same with Bey. She dabbled with self-titled, snatched our edges with Lemonade, and experimenting even further with her dive into Trapyonce with Everything Is Love.

The Queen has free reign.

Sis does this in everything she touches and because of that, she has opened the door to endless opportunities. Leading me to the next gem we've gotten from watching the couple over the years...

Lesson 4: Be true to yourself, your brand, and where you are.

Bey has never been afraid to branch out and explore new endeavors based on her personal interests, be it music, film, charity work, creative direction, etc. By venturing out regardless of naysayers, she likely garners far more success through her willingness to take the risk and just have fun with projects that she's passionate about pursuing.

Her ultimate power move was in recognizing that her brand is built around her image -- not the other way around.

To the same point of remaining true to yourself and where you are, Jay's music is not the tune of the same thug anthems that they were back in the day. He's nearly 50 and rightfully so, he's living better and his music reflects that.

He doesn't continue to perpetuate violence that he likely no longer partakes in, but instead speaks on the life he now knows: Bey and Blue; fame and fortune; marriage and parenthood.

Just as you will grow, your brand should grow along with you. Besides, when you allow your growth and your brand's growth to occur simultaneously, it makes for better content. Bey and Jay have mastered this at every turn in their lives.

Don't be so fixated on the past and facilitate stagnation. Instead, embrace the changes that occur when you're handed lemons. Stand in your truth because they sure as hell do!

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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