With my most compassionate honesty, I must admit that I was incredibly harmed by, hurt by and repelled by the way bell hooks spoke of Beyoncé. I found it to be incredibly unloving, violent and harmful. bell hooks herself has created a template to approaching Black bodies and Black people with love (i.e. in her books Salvation: Black People and Love, Communion: The Female Search For Love, The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love, and All About Love: New Visions) and she did not utilize this template for Beyoncé.
Janet Mock: "I would argue she chose this image, so I don't want to strip Beyoncé of choosing this image — of being her own manager."
bell hooks: "Then you are saying, from my deconstructive point of view, that she is colluding in the construction of herself as a slave."
The Beyonce cover isn't just about denigration; it's also about, black women are supposed to be child-like and children. They need to be taken care of or bossed around...Let's make this powerful woman a little girl.
A little girl we can lust after. A little girl we can prey upon. A little girl that can be Woody Allen's daughter taken up into the attic and sexually abused with people witnessing from a distance but taking no action on her behalf. Because I feel we have to draw those connections of our enslaved black female body to the enslaved bodies of all girls, all colors, with that predatory gaze.
hooks: Let's take the image of this rich, very powerful Black female and let's use it in the service of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy because she probably had very little control over that cover — that image.
I think she had control of what she wore. She hires a stylist, who's been with her for a long time. They've developed probably that look for that specific cover...She has final cut approval, and she chose this image. So I don't want to strip Beyonce of that agency...
But then you're saying, then, from my deconstructive point of view that she's colluding in the construction of her self as a slave. Are you still a slave? It's not a liberatory image.
I began to use the phrase in my work “white supremacist capitalist
patriarchy” because I wanted to have some language that would actually remind us continually of the interlocking systems of domination that define our reality and not to just have one thing be like, you know, gender is the important issue, race is the important issue, but for me the use of that particular jargonistic phrase was a way, a sort of short cut way of saying all of these things actually are functioning simultaneously at all times in our lives and that if I really want to understand what's happening to me, right now at this moment in my life, as a black female of a certain age group, I won't be able to understand it if I'm only looking through the lens of race. I won't be able to understand it if I'm only looking through the lens of gender. I won't be able to understand it if I'm only looking at how white people see me.
To me an important break through, I felt, in my work and that of others was the call to use the term white supremacy, over racism because racism in and of itself did not really allow for a discourse of colonization and decolonization, the recognition of the internalized racism within people of color and it was always in a sense keeping things at the level at which whiteness and white people remained at the center of the discussion. In my classroom I might say to students that you know that when we use the term white supremacy it doesn't just evoke white people, it evokes a political world that we can all frame ourselves in relationship to.
I mean one of the things that's amazing to me is that there has been this demand somehow that rap musicians be more moral and more ethical than anybody else in American culture as they approach the business of creating a product and making money.
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