Solange Knowles gave an unfortunately necessary tutorial for people who describe black women and girls as “angry” in a tweetstorm on Friday night.
In a series of mostly now-deleted tweets, Knowles, 30, described that she attended the Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans with her husband, her 11-year-old son, and a friend of her son’s. After a venue attendant yelled to Julian and his friend Rasheed that e-cigarettes weren’t allowed even though it was two full grown white men in front of them vaping the night away, four older white women behind Solange and her family, who were dancing, began demanding they sit down. In a powerful essay posted to Saint Heron, Solange wrote:
About 20 seconds later, you hear women yell aggressively, “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now” from the box behind you. You want to be considerate, however, they were not at all considerate with their tone, their choice of words, or the fact that you just walked in and seem to be enjoying yourself.
You feel something heavy hit you on the back of your shoulder, but consider that you are imagining things because well….certainly a stranger would not have the audacity.
Moments later, you feel something again, this time smaller, less heavy, and your son and his friend tell you those ladies just hit you with a lime.
You look down only to see the half eaten lime on the ground below you.
You inhale deeply. Your husband calmly asks the group of women did they just throw trash at you. One woman says, “I just want to make it clear, I was not the one who yelled those horrible, nasty, things at you.”
Loud enough for you to hear.
This leads you to believe they were saying things way worse than what you heard, but you are not surprised at that part one bit.
She goes on to describe why she took to Twitter, fully knowing that her experience would be devalued and undermined and even more cognizant that that’s merely what it’s like to be a person of color in America. Solange Knowles and her sister, Beyonce, have both been decried by many as being too “angry,” a criticism that is less frequently lobbed to white women and even more rarely used about white men. Beyonce, in particular, was called an “urban terrorist” (um, ok) after the release of her visual album, Lemonade, by the Drudge Report.
The misguided and harmful “angry black woman” has been a long been a stereotype, with The Root tracing it back to the 1830s. It’s time that people start taking more advice from Solange, who ended her essay on this note:
After you think it all over, you know that the biggest payback you could have ever had (after, go figure, they then decided they wanted to stand up and dance to songs they liked) was dancing right in front of them with my hair swinging from left to right, my beautiful black son and husband, and our dear friend Rasheed jamming the hell out with the rhythm our ancestors blessed upon us saying….
We belong. We belong. We belong.
We built this.
This post has been updated throughout.