Monday, February 22, 2010

Team Solange!

Here's a light post for a rainy Monday...

I'm going to have to confess I just heard Solange sing for the first time five minutes ago when I spotted the video performance below on Urban Curlz. It appears, based on some quick Googling, that Beyonce's little sis is not only a recording artist, but also an "actress, model, DJ and dancer." (Thank you, Wikipedia!) Good to know. I have been heretofore unfamiliar with her oeuvre. That being so, why do I kind of like her?

I like her for rocking a TWA like nobody's business. I like her for donning a head wrap to sing a cover of "Tell Me" with the Dirty Projectors.

And I like her for this interview on "Oprah."

It's not just about black hair and beauty standards, which ya'll know are totally two of my soap box issues. It's more that I have a special place in my heart for women who boldly do things, however small, other than the things our patriarchal society tells them they should.

It is damned hard to live your life unaffected by biases, "must dos" and "shouldn't dos." This is true especially if you are a member of a marginalized group. Go and read the comments to Jennifer's post on stereotypes here and on Love Isn't Enough. Nearly everyone who weighed in talked about adapting themselves, because of the pressures inflicted by "isms." We face so much policing--from the majority, from the colonized minds within our own communities, from ourselves. It takes tremendous strength to say, "Fuck it! Imma be me!" even when it comes to supposedly insignificant things like hairstyles.

Knowing the societal burdens of being "properly" female, I find myself mentally high-fiving women who walk the road less traveled: a woman who will sport a "baldy" like what?; a woman working on a road construction crew; or a woman who remains unmarried or childless by choice. When I encounter women like these, I always smile and tuck them in my virtual admiration file of everyday heroines. It's not that there is anything wrong with wearing a waist-length weave, having a secretarial job or being a stay-at-home mom. It's just that I know how choosing the non-traditional thing marks you, how society punishes those who can't or won't conform, how hard it is when you are already "other" to choose a path that promises further marginalization.

I don't know much about Solange, but I know how much strength it takes to go super-short (and God help us...NATURAL), when America, including the black community, sees long (straight) locks as markers of beauty and femininity. (Knowles was deemed "crazy" for choosing to wear short, natural hair.) And this eclectic music fan loves seeing Solange, sister to the king and queen of hip hop and R&B, getting down with the Dirty Projectors. Take that Eurocentric beauty standards and black music police!

I'm no Beyonce hater, but I kind of dig the video above for all the ways that it is not "Crazy in Love" or "Single Ladies" or some such. There is no crawling across the floor in booty shorts, no hair flipping, no dance track--just a black woman with a funky style, grooving to a 90s jam with an experimental rock group. That's damn near revolutionary.


Kelly Hogaboom said...

I loved the cross-post re: "when it it a stereotype, and when it is it you?" and both sets of comments were informative, at times highly amusing and heartbreaking. I too feel the same way when I see women doing something she's not supposed to.

It's just that I know how choosing the non-traditional thing marks you, how society punishes those who can't or won't conform, how hard it is when you are already "other" to choose a path that promises further marginalization.

Very well-put.

Another Way to View said...

I remember when we started wearing the "fros" in the late 60's and early 70's and how many of us were not only ridiculed by our peers but family as well. I remember in college writing this long essay as to why I chose to go natural. This phenomenon is cyclical and Solange's response on one of the talk shows was that her mother always told her that good hair is healthy hair....kinky or straight. AMEN

Aiyo said...

I have always preferred Solange to Beyonce from way back I love her album Sol-Angel. When she went natural and people were calling her a attention whore by doing a Britney it was stupid and good thing for that Oprah interview that cleared stuff up.

Naima said...

Solange just does the opposite of what Beyonces does to get out of the her shadow. You guys are giving her way too much credit

Anonymous said...

Solange is BEYONCE'S sister, thank you very much.

Vee (Scratch) said...

Solange is just being Solange. Being yourself is very difficult for many people let alone some one in the public eye.


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