Four days since the final Beychella performance, my ghost wrote this. Because I died. Beyoncé lifted my soul from my body, sent me to heaven, raised my credit score 200 points, cleared my eczema and then sent me back down to earth to haunt everyone with my sad attempts at her “Everybody Mad” choreo.
That’s the power of Yoncé. It will take you beyond-cé.
On the Saturday night of Bey’s first performance, I sat on my couch in my jammies waiting for the queen to hit the stage. I hate-tweeted for Post Malone to GTFO, and then when the horns came on I lost it. Right there, on my couch, I screamed. For the next two hours, I was glued to my laptop, either weeping at her excellence or singing along or screaming at some amazing move she did. At 1 a.m., after she dedicated “Love on Top” to the BeyHive, I texted my boyfriend, “I change my mind. We’re going to Coachella. I HAVE to see Beyoncé.”
The week before he asked if I wanted to go. His work had given him free passes, but hot weather plus crowds do not equal a good time for my 33-year-old ass. But after watching her set that stage ablaze, I realized it was a once-in-a-lifetime moment I had to see for myself. And it served as a profound moment.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter is a powerhouse. Her talent is exceptional and untouchable. And what she does for the Black community, for Black women, fills me, a non-Black Latinx woman, with emotion and pride.
Latinx people will sometimes lament that we don’t have a Beyoncé. They’ll wish they could see someone that looks like us on a stage as big as the headlining spot at Coachella. While I kind of, maybe, somehow get why someone would say that, well, that shit’s dumb and problematic.
The idea of having a Latinx artist that “looks like us” means the definition of Latinx does not include Black people. That is wrong.
— Afnizar Zuelva (@AfnizarZ) April 16, 2018
It erases the fact that there are millions of Afro-Latinxs all over the world. Black people exist. They exist in every Latin American country. Latinxs are every shade and come from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. To assume otherwise denies their place in this world, the opportunities they deserve and the accomplishments they’ve made.
For many, many Latinxs, Beyoncé does actually look like them. And those people have struggled their whole lives to see themselves represented. While Beyoncé is not Afro-Latina, no one can claim she doesn’t come through for the Latinx community. “Mi Gente” isn’t even the only example. “Irreemplazable“! “Oye“! “Bello Embustero“! The well-documented love she and sister Solange have for fellow Texan Selena! And that’s not even the full list. She’s been out here, honoring the culture. Check the recibos.
As I stood there in the sea of fans watching her excellence go all the way off for two whole hours – no breaks! – at no point did I think, “yeah, but why couldn’t it be a Latina?” As if she, one of the biggest artists on the planet and a living legend, didn’t herself wait 20 damn years to be the first Black woman to headline the festival. Ya’ll really going to whine about her getting that spot? That’s the mountain you want to die on? One word: nah. Four more words: That is anti-black.
Her HBeyCU-themed program wasn’t meant for me or my experience, and it doesn’t or shouldn’t have to be for me to feel it or weep knowing the impact it had on those it is meant for. And I cried. When that marching band went off, it energized me all the way to my bones. When Bey walked down the aisle dressed like an African queen, I raised my arms in reverence. Knowing the years of work she’s put in to be that untouchable in her greatness filled me with awe and joy.
I still felt seen. As a woman of color, I still felt fought for and empowered when she asked, “Ladies, are we strong? Have we had enough of the bullshit?” Then I screamed along to the “suck on my balls, bitch” breakdown.
There is never, ever any need to disparage Beyoncé in wishing for more representation of Latinx women and other women of color in the music industry.
It is unnecessary, wrong and shows the anti-blackness pervasive in our community. We need to praise her for what she has accomplished, for the sheer depth of her brilliance and talent and for the unwavering strength of her performances. She’s great, maybe the greatest, and she’s made a major impact that honors her culture in a way that is so important. Beyoncé is important. Leave it at that.
If it’s more Latinx representation that you want, support those artists. See their shows, buy their records and merch, and stan. Stan hard. Be part of the groundswell that elevates them to the top of the charts and music industry. And while you do it, remember that their success doesn’t have to come at the cost of the success of Black artists. There’s room for all of it, especially when we demand it with our buying power.
Lastly, to those who aren’t Beyoncé fans, who think she’s overrated or strongly believe her music sucks, and feel the need to say so in the comments section of posts that celebrate her: You’re very much free to feel this way. However, you may want to think about why you feel compelled to enter someone’s comments to deny or dull an extraordinary Black woman’s shine. I’ve chosen to escort those people to the left, to the left of my social pages, because I have no time for it.
As the fireworks went off, and the queen gave her thanks to fans, I silently thanked her back. Growing up listening to so many artists I’d never be able to see, this performance reminded me that Beyoncé is here. I get to witness the trajectory of her career and understand what she means to me, to the world and to her community.