Prince died this weekend.
Beyonce released her new album, Lemonade, this weekend.
Like many people, I spent time this weekend watching video clips of Prince, listening to his music, reading the news reports discussing his work, his legacy, and his private philanthropy. Like many people, I watched and listened to Beyonce’s Lemonade, read think-pieces about it, followed some discussions on Twitter.
I am reminded that there is no one, true, way to be a fan.
I saw someone, Sady Doyle, I think, tweet that she was a fan of Beyonce in much the same way she was a fan of Prince — she knew the top hits, the most popular songs, saw the Superbowl performances, caught a few interviews here and there. This resonated for me. That is my experience as well. I’m not a die-hard fan of either. I think they are both magnificent artists and performers. World-changers. Makers of the future. I don’t know any of the deeper tracks on any albums, I can’t tell you much about their families, personal lives, struggles, or passions. If it’s not in a Billboard Top 40 song of theirs, or a movie, or a top-ranked music video, I’m sure I don’t know it.
Yet, I grieve for the loss of Prince.
Yet, I grin in a hot, angry, teeth-baring celebration of exuberant, terrible joy at Lemonade.
Watching Prince videos this weekend, I wonder — what would black masculinity look like today, if the AIDS crisis had not robbed us of a generation of queer men, especially queer men of color? I mourn that loss. Watching Beyonce, her smile and laugh as she destroys a street with a baseball bat, I wonder whether her anger will be lost the way we have forgotten Hurston’s anger and joy, Baker’s, or Smith’s.
I’m not black. My wondering is an outsider’s view, a glance at something that is not my experience yet is performed for all to witness. Witness, if not entirely comprehend. As a fan, as a witness, as an outsider, as one touched by art whether or not that art is made for me, I desperately hope that these moments become fully part of the cultural record.
Prince and Beyonce need to be a part of our collective history.
We have to remember a past in order to grow from it. We have to see a past if we are to build upon it.
When I look at Prince’s legacy, I hope we remember that this, too, is American blackness. When I see Beyonce putting her entire reputation, personal and professional, on the line for her values and politics and family, I hope we stop forgetting that this, too, is American blackness.
I’m glad that Lemonade came out this weekend. The music, the politics, the art, and the blackness continue on.
Filed under: Uncategorized |