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Beychella: Black girl magic personified


LIKE MANY other #QueenBee fans, I was one of the millions of viewers on Saturday who tuned into the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Unlike the years since the festival’s debut in 1999, where the headlining acts are often tedious, vapid, male dominated or undeniably white, this year’s offering of the popular Cali festival made history in more ways than you could imagine.

Taking ownership of her blackness, Beyoncé graced the stage as the Egyptian queen ‘Nefertiti’ wearing a royal headdress and a gloriously long black cape that emblazoned ‘Nefertiti’s’ face on the back - created by the talented creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing.

But this year, my fixation was not centered on her four iconic wardrobe changes. Rather, my exaltation came from the prevailing symbol of black power that was expressed through 120 minutes of exhilarating entertainment.

Amidst the impeccable vocals and unmatchable choreography, Beyoncé paid tribute to Nina Simone and shared the famously uttered words by Malcolm X, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman” - those words stuck consciously in my mind, and undoubtedly in the minds of many black women like me.

The first black woman to headline the festival, mother to three children and all round feminist took us on her journey of sisterhood, friendship and liberation. From the surprise Destiny’s Child reunion that celebrated the trio’s best throwbacks tracks including ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Lose My Breath’, to the sister duo collab with Solange during an energetic performance of ‘Get Me Bodied’, Bey championed the presence of black womanhood in each and every way.

Throughout the two hour performance she channeled the importance of black power by her determination to disrupt societal norms. Her diverse representation of black women broke barriers as women of various shapes and sizes took centre stage, dancing fiercely alongside the star.

It challenged the unrealistic portrayals of women that are so often showcased in the mainstream media, where our bodies are conditioned to adhere by unattainable standards, and provided a platform for full figured women to be embraced and highlighted.

Furthermore, her performance spoke to the many black women who feel it necessary to down play their fearlessness as they navigate through a society that so regularly attaches damaging labels to their backs.

But the real significance of her performance overturned the position of black achievements that are often overlooked, minimised and robbed the attention they deserve.

In the faultless show, which celebrated HBCU's (historically black colleges) and the culture that comes with it, Beyoncé effortlessly showed the world exactly what it meant to be black and a woman through strength, power and melanin-enriched skin.

I will continue to make endless noise about the historic achievement that Beyoncé Knowles made that night. A woman who unapologetically owns her race and gender.

The visibility and success of the greatest entertainer alive makes me proud to be a black woman.

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