Beyoncé And Janelle Monae Are Creating A New Language Of Black Womanhood

Decades later, Aretha Franklin married gospel music, the soundtrack of the civil rights movement, with the burgeoning women’s movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s with her signature performances of songs like “Respect” and “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” neither written by black women but forever marked by Franklin as a symbol of our power.
Beyoncé reminds us we are all divas, soldiers and survivors

Beyoncé reminds us we are all divas, soldiers and survivors

Beyoncé reminds us we are all divas, soldiers and survivors
As black Americans made economic and social gains after the civil rights movement, Whitney Houston in the 1980s presented a sleek, polished version of black womanhood that reflected the accomplishments of thousands of black women who were often the first in their families to graduate from college and move into white-collar jobs in greater numbers.
And now in the 21st century, enter Beyoncé and Janelle Monae.
Much like Baker, Beyoncé has reframed the aesthetics of the past as a gesture of empowerment for the present. Beginning with “Lemonade” and more recently during her Coachella performance, Beyoncé has taken cultural ideas and imagery from institutions that were created in response to segregation — such as the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and the marching band and step line of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) — and reinterpreted them to give them an unprecedented platform, power and presence. She has encouraged black people to be proud of the art we created to survive unrelenting racism.

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Beyoncé in 98 seconds

Beyoncé in 98 seconds

Beyoncé in 98 seconds

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    Beyoncé in 98 seconds

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