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Love Letter to Beyoncé

On her 39th birthday

Love Letter to Beyoncé  On her 39th birthday

In the times of Post Feminism, debates on the women's role in the society, Time's Up and #MeToo movements, what we really need are concrete examples of successful, confident, powerful and free women. An example that speaks for itself, without the need for big explanations because it's so self-evident and clear in front of everyone, is Beyoncé Knowles. Singer, actress, dancer, an entrepreneur with 10 studio albums, 62 Grammy Awards nominations, more than 118 million albums sold all over the world, Bey is undoubtedly the queen of pop music. But besides these striking numbers, the amazing outfits, and the blonde curls, there's more: Queen Bey has had and keeps having, a deep cultural impact on the American society, absolutely connected with being a black woman. 


Since the beginning of her solo career (after the years with the Destiny's Child), Beyoncé has always referred fiercely to her Afro-American heritage, a motive of strength and pride during Obama presidency, and further underlined and highlighted during this difficult Trump age. Her blackness is an essential and crucial element in her music, which takes inspiration from Prince, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, as well as of her performances. The 2016 Superbowl halftime show was a historical event. Mrs Carter's dancers were dressed in black and on their afro hairdos wore black berets, the symbol of the Black Panthers movement dating back from the 60s, while Beyoncé sang Formation, whose visual features scenes that recall directly the Black Lives Matter movement, especially in the graffito saying "Stop Shooting Us".

Last year's performance at Coachella was another occasion to pay homage to the black community, as portrayed in the Netflix documentary Homecoming. Beyoncé was the first black woman to headline the Californian festival (which quickly became the Beychella), and turned her concert into a tribute to the Afro-American history, with references to Nina Simone, Malcolm X, Lift Every Voice and Sing - considered the anthem of black community -, sweaters in the colours of the first Afro-American university fraternity and the clenched fist, the symbol of Black Lives Matter, embroidered on her corset. A very powerful political statement. But the documentary gives us also an inside look into Bey's private life: she openly speaks about her difficult pregnancy, about the struggle of getting back in shape both physically and mentally, as well as the will of going back to be Queen Bey we all know and love. 

Who run the world? Girls, and Beyoncé knows it very well. Without abusing of the term 'feminist', Queen Bey simply set the record straight. The song Run The World (Girls) can be considered the manifesto of the Knowles ideal woman. Quoting Ray Liotta in The Goodfellas, Beyoncé deals with the salary inequality between men and women, the number of female graduates (always bigger than the male counterpart) ready to take over the world and new mums that go back to work stronger than ever. In Don't Hurt Yourself, furious for her husband Jay-Z's cheating, a raging Beyoncé addresses her cheater hubby with these words: you ain't married to no average b***h boy, keep your money, I got my own, I'm the lion, I f**k with you 'til I realize I'm just too much for you. Pissed off, to say the least, but it's girl power at its best. Lemonade, her true masterpiece, becomes a hymn to female power, strength, and freedom, perfectly exemplified by Serena Williams, Beyoncé's dear friend, who stars in the Sorry video, twerking next to Queen Bey's throne. The girl power is reflected also in concrete actions, like the Global Citizen Festival, aimed at raising money for female education in developing countries, created with the former First Lady Michelle Obama


The work of Beyoncé isn't just recording songs in the studio: every album turns into the occasion of creating an imaginary and an aesthetic deeply connected with the record. Lemonade isn't just about Bey coming to terms with the cheating of her husband, but it's also a visual-album, a real short film broadcasted by HBO. Eleven different chapters, quotes from Somalian deported poet Warnan Shire, examples of strong (black) women like Zendaya, Winnie Harlow, Serena Williams, constant references to Black Lives Matter: Lemonade is a monumental work. The scene in which Beyoncé walks down the street wearing a yellow Roberto Cavalli dress and carrying a baseball bat is now iconic. 

Also, the video for the first single of the album made in collaboration with Jay-Z, Apes**t, is a short film shot inside the Louvre, full of references. Every painting and every sculpture that appear in the visual have a deep meaning, connected with Bey's family origin (her ancestors were slaves), the representation of Afro-American people in the arts and, once again, female empowerment. 

However, the celebration of black beauty reached its peak with Black Is King, the visual album released at the end of July on Disney+. Written and directed by Knowles herself, the album is the last chapter - the most complete, visually rich, exaggerated, colourful - in Bey's attempt to represent Blackness in its best form, especially in this day and age.

Like every other public figure, Beyoncé has her detractors and haters, and by now you've probably understood what's the position of who's writing, but the objective fact is her incredible success and her absolute relevance, not only in the music world. Bey is the living example that a woman can have it all, family, money, success, career: with her songs we've cried for the end of a relationship, we've rejoiced over a new encounter, we've stood up for ourselves and raised our voices, we've destroyed the car of our cheating ex-boyfriend or we've simply danced, free and careless, in a hotel room with our girlfriends like in her 7/11 video. If even the iPhone auto-correct changes immediately the accent on her E in the correct one, it means that Beyoncé is now part of everyone's vocabulary, or at least should. Happy Birthday, Queen Bey