Friday, May 09, 2014

bell hooks on Beyoncé

Professor bell hooks and Beyoncé
"I used to get so tired of people quoting Audre [Lorde], ‘The masters tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’ But that was exactly what she meant that you are not going to destroy this imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy by creating your own version of it. Even if it serves you to make lots and lots of money.

I’ve really been challenging people to think about would we be at all interested in Beyoncé if she wasn’t so rich, because I don’t think you can separate her class power, and the wealth, from people’s fascination with her. That here is a young, Black woman who is so incredibly wealthy. And wealthy is what so many young people fantasize, dream about, sexualize, eroticize. And one could argue, even more than her body, it’s what that body stands for—the body of desire fulfilled that is wealth, fame, celebrity, all the things that so many people in our culture are lusting for, wanting.

If Beyoncé was a homeless woman who looked the same way, or a poor, down and out woman who looked the same way, would people be enchanted by her? Or is it the combination of all of those things that are at the heart of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy?

And I’ve been saying, people of color, we are so invested in white supremacy, it’s tragic. Lorraine Hansberry said it is the only form of extremism that should discredit us in the eyes of our children that we remain so invested." ...

"I see a part of Beyoncé that is in fact anti-feminist — that is a terrorist, especially in terms of the impact on young girls. I actually feel like the major of assault on feminism in our society has come from visual media, and from television, and videos. Just think, do we know of any powerful man of any color who’s come out with some tirade against feminism? The tirades against feminism occur so much in the image-making business, and what we see.

What I’m concerned about constantly in my critical imagination is why don’t we have libratory images that are away from, not an inversion of, what society has told us?"
Read bell hooks on Beyoncé: She is a 'terrorist' because of her 'impact on young girls' by (Clutch: May 8, 2014).  

Also watch the entire Are You Still a Slave?” conversation between bell hooks, Janet Mock, Shola Lynch, and Marci Blackman held last night at The New School.

Comment: I have always been fascinated by the work and intellect of Professor bell hooks.  About a decade or more ago I attended a public lecture she gave at a local university in Portland, Oregon, and came away impressed by the hold she has on her audience.

I agree with her position here but would not have used the word "terrorist" because it is inflammatory given the context of global 'terror' politics and the manner in which the word is laid heavy on the bodies of people of color - particularly Muslims - who are deemed enemies of whiteness (Americanness).

Some may argue that her use of the word inverts its meaning away from this imperial discourse but I would caution that hook's critique above suggests she is aware that inverting or taking back meaning is often meaningless when posed against a behemoth imperial power like whiteness.

That said I am happy to see bell hooks stepping away from applauding vacuous folks like Beyoncé and the patriarchal industry that props her up as a vision of 'post-race' black womanhood.

Young folks of any color and creed would do well to see the likes of Beyoncé and her husband as nothing more than capitalist products drawing more dividends from a torturous history of racism.

The Beyoncé machine does not represent anything more than the replication of capitalized racism and its violent degradation of black women.



The Brotha's Corner said...

Brother Ridwan:

Greetings to you, I pray this finds you well by God's grace. I just finished the semester, and I have year to go. Other than that, all is well with me for the most part (Relationship problems):-)

I'm not a huge fan of Sister Prof. hooks, but she makes some valid observations here. Essentially, we have become complicit to white supremacy because we suffer from cultural psychosis disorder.

BTW: I just read of the tensions going on in Temple U's Black Studies Dept. It took me back to the madness at PSU.

Peace&Love2U, My Dear Big Brother Professor!

Ridwan said...

My dear brother D.

It is always a pleasure to hear from you. I am well little big brother and I trust that you are too.

I hope your troubles on the relationship front resolves in your best interests.

I think hooks and West represent what is essentially the old order black radical tradition and I'm not surprised that both have become unpopular even in BST programs.

Both see the link between racism and neo-liberalism as the root of dysfunction whereas many of the younger set do not.

I have disagreed with Professor hooks in the past. I think to a significant extent a lot of her black feminist positions speak louder to white women who oddly are among her biggest fans.

But that is another story.

I am thoroughly disappointed in Professor Molefi Asante at Temple. He has played Professor Anthony Monteiro dirty.

But the tide is turning. Now it seems the administration at Temple have had just about enough of his deceitful manipulation.

Inside the functions of racism folks of color expect to be played dirty by whiteness.

We also know that many among us have sold out. But like you know Big L it is never easy when your own kick you in the teeth.

It took me years to get over what PSU laid down on me. I'm grateful that they did because I'm a stronger man and more resolved because of it.

I hope brother Anthony Monteiro finds resolve too. I expect he will and I expect that Molefi Asante will be worse off because of the hell he has stirred.

Still, BST is in big trouble just about anywhere in the US.

Be well my brother and keep me posted on you.

Thanks for looking in on me - you made my day.

Much luv,