Why is making Beyonce Black Offensive?

I’ve been thinking about that spread of Beyonce in L’Officiale, the French magazine.  If you haven’t seen it, she’s dressed up like the French over the top designer version of traditional Nigerian style in massive, gorgeous, over the top Duks.  Then in another picture they have blackened her face to make her darker, and in another she is wearing animal print.

I’ve been reading comments from people saying it’s offensive and it’s racist but quite frankly I don’ t see where it is offensive.  I don’t see what is racist.   Is it racist that they darkened her face with makeup?  Not for me.  She is a black woman and they made her face darker with makeup.  What is racist about that?  Is there something wrong with being of a darker hue?   Is she too black?   It actually looks quite beautiful, I think.

One person commented that ‘they didn’t even tie the duk correctly’!  Are you serious?  This is the statement of someone who can’t find a ligitimate objection, so has to come up with bullshit. Ignorance.  They’re not trying to be authentic. They are making art for a magazine.  They are designing.   May they be creative?  Is it not ok to do  different things with the Duk?  The duk they have not tied, but rather, constructed, is glorious.  Is it offensive that the duk is constructed into a magnificent glorification of the duk?  It was such a stupid comment,  I even wondered if this  debate hasn’t been fabricated to create hype, publicity and controversy.

Seriously though, it worries me that Black People are so ready to jump to the attack when there is nothing to attack.  It is so unnecessarily racially divisive.  And then they will go to the same magazines and say they are racist for not using black models and African images.  Please, make up your minds.

These people are saying that the pictures are offensive, but they don’t say why.  What is it that is offensive?   She’s not being made up like some Aunt Jamima; she’s not a 1930’s minstrel caricature like in Spike Lee’s movie Bamboozled. She’s beautiful.  She looks beautiful in the pictures.   Do African Americans have a problem with Africa?  Are they offended that one of their own should be dressed as an African?  Do dark skinned Africans offend them?

One commentator says that the shoot  ‘reduces African women to skin colour, animal print and head wraps’.  What is she talking about?  This shoot isn’t a  negative statement on African women.  I think it celebrates our traditional style. It appreciates African art and style.  And what does she mean it ‘reduces African women’?  Are we African women reduce-able?  Does it take nothing but a few French set designers, stylists and photographers to ‘reduce’ us?

I think these people know nothing about Africa and nothing about art.  I think they are afraid of themselves and their blackness.  I think they are stuck in an era of white-gloved minstrels and big eyed mammies and they are being offended about something that doesn’t exist except that they cling to its memory.

People really should get offended about something that Beyonce has done.  The thing that she has done that offends me, is that she has lightened her skin and made her hair blond, and not for a photo shoot.  This she has done for real life.   She has Michael Jacksoned herself.  That is offensive.  What is she saying?  It’s no good to be Black?  Is she now trying to be white? And then I must ask myself, do I really actually care?  No, I don’t. Let her be white.

The shoot in L’Officiel Magazine’s 90th Birthday issue is a celebration of Fela Kuti and Nigerian heritage.  I think that’s pretty Groovy!


About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
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