The gossip mill has been positively on fire! Thanks to Jay and Bey, with an assist from little sis, Solange, inquiring minds have been feverishly speculating and creating scenarios to fit the larger than life status of pop royalty. I’d say that we’ve learned a lot this week, haven’t we? Social media has been in full effect and mainstream media has been not too far behind. Even with limited information, some things were made perfectly clear.
First of all, and sadly, it is clear that a video with no sound showing a private, family altercation between a rapper and a singer will gain more attention and spread more quickly than a news story about nearly 300 hundred African school girls being abducted by terrorists. Seriously, that video of Solange and Jay Z was all over my news feeds, as well as the network news the day that it leaked. #whatjayzsaidtosolange went viral almost instantly. News commentators were talking about it, bloggers were speculating (including me), search engines were searching for more information. Absolutely everyone that I talked to, from my dry cleaner to my nail technician, had something to say about it. However, it took weeks for any real coverage about the kidnappings in Nigeria to become news here in the United States. Kidnappings that were a real case of life and death. Kidnappings that were tied to human trafficking. Until social media started the #bringbackourgirls movement, it was not on the public radar and even then it was slow for many to show any concern for those girls and their families (for more on this, click here ). Yet, the nation – no, the world – was caught up in why Solange kicked Jay Z’s behind in a hotel elevator. We should have learned that our priorities are out-of-place.
Second, it is clear that any situation involving a Black female displaying emotion and a Black male involved in any possible way will quickly dissolve into the “angry/crazy Black woman” and the “violent/abusive Black man” stereotypes. Although I noted that Jay Z never behaved aggressively toward Solange, (even though she was beyond aggressive toward him), I heard or read time and time again speculation that her behavior was probably due to something Jay had either done or said to Beyoncé. Does Beyoncé strike you as someone who needs her little sister to fight her battles? After all, we are talking about the woman who, according to Time magazine, rules the world. I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s about right. Likewise, is it necessarily true that Solange and every other Black woman in America is labeled crazy or highly sensitive every time she becomes angry. Is it so hard to consider that there is justifiable provocation? Admittedly, I can not think of one thing that my brother-in-law could say to me that would make me respond in the same manner as she did. However, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t say something that was deeply hurtful and personal to her. Continuing to spin these types of stereotypes only lessens the strength of our voices. If we continue to perpetuate these myths then it only weakens our valid complaints, as it relates to how society perceives us. As a Black woman, sometimes I am angry and it’s justifiable. I’m not crazy and not irrational and perfectly capable of being in control of my emotions – like most Black women I know. Likewise, I am married to a good Black man, who is not abusive, neglectful or lazy. Who loves his family and is an excellent husband and father. He is not an aberration or a fluke. These Black men exist all across this country and that’s the stereotype that we should be perpetuating. We should have learned that we need to change the narrative.
Finally, we have learned that whoever sent out the memo that said that Jay and Bey are untouchable and above reproach, forgot to include Solange on the distribution list. I have noticed that their fans tend to have a rabid need to attack anyone who dare say anything negative about them or in any way make them appear like mere mortals. I understand that the video footage was never intended to be seen by their subjects, but it did occur to me that Solange didn’t really seem to be concerned about who saw her. Quick thinking on the part of the security guard stopped the elevator and gave them time to calm the situation before appearing in public again. Here’s the thing: Yes, they are celebrities and yes, they have carefully constructed this public image of themselves that creates the appearance of being all things fabulous and immortal (pardon the sarcasm). However, it’s just that…an illusion. They are normal people just like you and I, except with way more money. They have family trouble, relationship trouble, health concerns, etc. The same as any other American Family. Have we taken being a fan too far when we verbally attack people for not liking an entertainer, actor or actress? Has this gone beyond just enjoying their music or body of work to some form of idolatry? Let me be clear, I do not dislike Bey and Jay ( I do like Solange’s music better than her sister’s. It’s more my vibe.) and I am a lover of all types of music. However, I recognize that these people are entertainers, out to make money. When a performer says that they love their fans, they really don’t mean me: Lisa Owen. They mean me, the fan that purchases their cd’s, clothing line, fragrance, video, blah, blah, blah. Make no mistake, without all of that they would be nothing. Talented, yes, but broke and unknown. We should have learned to keep things in perspective.
As entertaining as all of this was, we need to seriously reevaluate what role celebrities play in our society. There are real issues that need our attention, but how a rapper deals with being beat up by his sister-in-law isn’t one of them.