Isn't Beyoncé just the best? But seriously, the singer/songwriter/producer/actress who rose to fame as the lead singer of multi-platinum quartet (and later trio) Destiny's Child has become a centerpiece in culture and entertainment. What's most inspirational is that she's done it all while being unapologetically Blackity, Black, Black, BLACK.
She's constantly reminding us of who we are with projects that feel like carefully-crafted love letters to the Black culture and experience. Her latest work, Black Is King, is no exception—it actually might be her most melanin-rich work yet. The visual album dropping July 31 on Disney+ is a nod to her 2019 project, The Lion King: The Gift, but more importantly serves as "a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience."
For Black women especially, Beyoncé is always a mood. In honor of her Black Is King release, we're reminded of all the times she put Black women front and center in her work.
When She Introduced The World To Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In 2013, Beyoncé changed the game with the midnight drop of her self-titled visual album, a first of its kind. This was also the album where we really saw Bey come into her own and shed light on the feminist movement. For the bridge of her song "***Flawless", Bey sampled a TEDxTalk given by celebrated Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie titled, "We should all be feminists".
Adichie's talk is mainly focused on the status of women in Nigeria ("Because it is where I know and where my heart is," Adichie explains), however, Bey chose to feature lines that resonate to all women:
"We teach girls to shrink themselves. To make themselves smaller. We say to girls 'You can have ambition. But not too much. You should aim to be successful. But not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man.' Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach to aspire to marriage, and we don't teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors. Not for jobs or for accomplishments which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes."
When She Made Lemons Into Lemonade
Lemonade was Beyonce's second visual album drop and premiered on HBO. This project played like an ode to Black women, gave a new meaning to "baby hair and afros", and renamed a style of braids worn by generations as "Lemonade Braids". Here's how:
Where there is sweetness in life, there is also bitterness, and no one has quite made lemons into lemonade like the Black woman. Lemonade represents the Black woman at her fullest self, her most vulnerable, her most angry, and her most powerful. In a series of songs that walked us through a pathway of different emotions, we saw ourselves in visuals and heard our pain and pleasure through sound. She showed the power and strength of Black women, but also our softness, our worries and fears through lyrics, melodies and stunning images. We cried, we laughed, and we ultimately healed. Then, there was the not-so-subtle shoutout to Black hair in "Formation" when she sang, "I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros" after internet trolls tried to come for daughter, Blue Ivy's hair. And how could we ever forget the summer of 2016, when "Lemonade Braids" went mainstream? #BeyDidThat
When She Brought The Black Panthers To The Super Bowl
At the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, Beyoncé and her troop of female dancers strutted across the field for a "Formation" performance in Black Panther party realness. The bold move shed light on the Black Panther Party, a revolutionary socialist political organization which originated in 1966 for the self-defense of Black people. Considering that historically Black women are the most unprotected and underserved demographic in America, seeing Queen Bey lead the charge out onto the field in front of an audience of nearly 100 million people across the country was a MOMENT for Black women everywhere.
When Coachella Became Beychella
The year was 2018. Coachella became Beychella and Beyoncé's performance that paid homage to HBCUs finally gave the institutions the love they deserve. Historically Black Colleges and Universities created specifically for the advancement of the community are an experience like no other––just ASK any HBCU alum!
"So I studied my history, I studied my past, and I put every mistake, all of my triumphs–my 22-year career–into my 2-hour Homecoming performance." – Beyoncé
When She Brought Us All To Homecoming
It's just like Beyoncé to take her epic performance at Coachella and turn it into a documentary that we can watch over and over again. The doc as a whole serves as motivation for any woman trying to achieve a goal, but if you break it up piece by piece, there are easily digestible nuggets of motivation in the inspiring quotes by Black women she sprinkles throughout the film. Toni Morrison, Alex Walker, and Danai Gurira are just a few of the women whose words of wisdom pop up on-screen. Here's one we love:
"To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, Black people. And I mean that in every sense." — Nina Simone
When She Dropped "Black Parade"
"Black Parade" dropped on Juneteenth (June 19) and every line is an ode to the culture. With Black Lives Matter protests abound in respond to poilce brutality and a pandemic literally killing at rapid numbers, this track was necessary. So, when she says this verse, we really felt it:
"Hold my hands, we gon' pray together
Lay down, face down in the gravel
We wearin' all attire white to the funeral
Black love, we gon' stay together"
Featured image by Giphy.
Jazmine A. Ortiz is a creative born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn and currently living in Staten Island, NY. She started in the entertainment industry in 2012 and now works as a Lifestyle Editor where she explores everything from mental health to vegan foodie trends. For more on what she's doing in the digital space follow her on Instagram at @liddle_bitt.
Take Our 2-Minute Wellness Quiz To Up Your Self-Care Game!
Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
Welcome to Black Girl Whole, your space to find the wellness routine that aligns with you! This brand-new marketplace by xoNecole is a safe space for Black women to activate their healing, find the inspiration to rest, and receive reassurance that we are one small act away from finding our happiness.
Want to discover where you are on your wellness journey? You don't have to look far. In partnership with European Wax Center, we're bringing you a customized wellness quiz to help you up your wellness game. Answer our short series of questions to figure out which type of wellness lover you are, what you need to bring more balance into your life, and then go deeper by shopping products geared towards clearing your mind, healing your body, and soothing your spirit.
Ready to get whole? Take our quiz now!
From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images