Black is King Meaning, A Tribute to African Majesty
Beyoncé dissects and re-connects the African Diaspora through the journey of a young Black boy in visual album, Black Is King. The message has so many of us emotional–in real ass tears.
The message hits home for us , because the journey of one– a part of the African Diaspora– is one of a warrior. We are one of the only descendants kidnapped from our homes and placed in new lands that did not make space for us. Instead we’ve fought and continue to fight for our voices to be heard and lives to matter. We are assets and a blessing to capitalism in America. Beginning from the time we were pulled off slaved ships and battered and used as free labor up until today–although we cultivated a culture in the new land–that culture has been commodified, flipped and continues to make White people rich. And that is why Black is King is so powerful, it is a flag in history where the narrative finally begins to change.
While Beyoncé is certainly not the first to bring the Black– African Diaspora narrative to the screen, (we can’t forget Black Panther and the Wakanda phenomena) it certainly is one of the first times we’ve seen the Black journey intertwined in African culture through all mediums: fashion, music, dance, language, poetry and storytelling. The truth is the leading young boy in Black is King is every little Black boy and girl searching for ourselves in an European saturated culture.
James Baldwin told us,” In the case of the American Negro, from the moment you are born every stick and stone, every face, is white. Since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose you are, too. It comes as a great shock around the age of 5, 6, or 7 to discover that the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.”
In the search of identity, Black people have internalized anti-blackness and hatred of self through simply growing up in America. We’ve been stripped of our culture, so we built another and while we’ve done a damn good job of building, our traumas are often re-manifested through colorism, crab in the bucket ideologies –a symptom of capitalism– and desire to be close to Whiteness–synonymous with “I finally made it”.
Beyoncé deconstructs these ideas throughout the soundtrack. Find Your Way starts us on the journey of self discovery. Brown Skin girl, confronts colorism and reminds us Black and Brown women–especially those of darker skin-tones are beautiful. My Power is a declaration of unapologetic Black excellence. Intertwined with the words of Poet Warsan Shire the music and lyrics are a love letter to all people of African Descent.
The film paints the visual of the interconnectedness of Black Americans and Africans. We are one. And knowing our roots is necessary to knowing who we are and where we are going. We are in a time where we are re-claiming our culture, bridging gaps and giving thanks to our ancestors for showing us the way back.
Black is King is an invitation back home, back to self. A call for us all to follow our light and “One day, you will meet yourself back where you started, but stronger.”