Mama Tina has some thoughts about the recent backlash that her eldest daughter, Beyoncé, has received in response to her latest visual album, Black Is King, which is set to hit Disney+ on July 31. Tina Knowles-Lawson took to her Instagram to publicly address those criticizing Beyoncé for using African imagery and themes in her music despite not performing or filming in Africa. In an Instagram posted on July 3 that began as a celebration of Beyoncé’s African collaborators on Black Is King, Lawson went left and took on Bey’s haters, writing “those who are criticizing the film (before they even see it) saying it’s unauthentic, upset that B doesn’t actually go to Africa or say that Bey is simply using African cultures for gain are wrong.” She goes on to make three points defending her daughter, claiming that Beyoncé profits less from her “Afrocentric content” than from her mainstream content, has done her research on African cultures, and that making African content that “will last forever” is ultimately more important than coming to Africa “for a show once or twice every few years.”
If you thought Miss Tina would leave it at that, you’d be mistaken. Earlier that day, Lawson called those critical of Beyoncé “social media terrorist[s],” specifically those who criticize “billion dollars on an elevator” Beyoncé’s relationship to capitalism. Lawson Instagrammed a tweet from @_alphaa_ that reads, “Lmao the annoying thing about the Beyoncé capitalist argument is that Lemonade her ‘black’ album, is one of her lowest selling albums so if we’re talking profit, she wouldn’t continue to make music highlighting blackness if it was solely for profit.” Lawson included a lengthy caption positioning her daughter as a champion of “African and African-American people” while asking those who remain critical of Bey to re-channel their energy elsewhere. “Beyoncé is not your enemy!!,” Lawson writes emphatically, “But you would swear she was!”
Criticisms of Beyoncé have been bubbling up over the past few weeks, with the incredibly outspoken rapper Noname being the most high-profile artist to publicly question Beyoncé’s relationship to wealth and power. On Saturday, July 4, Noname took to Twitter to share her thoughts on Mama Tina’s Instagram musings, specifically Lawson’s focus on how Beyoncé “dedicates her art to Boldly show the Royalty and beauty of our heritage and journey !” “the idea that blk [sic] americans are only legitimate human subjects because we are descendants of ‘kings and queens’ is ahistorical and continues to push capitalist logic,” tweeted Noname. “most africans weren’t royalty and that’s ok. beyonce is great but she got rich from a system that exploits the many.” Should we be surprised that an artist who goes by Queen B (no, not you, Britney) has a fixation on monarchy, wealth, and power? Perhaps not. In any case, Mama Tina and Noname are exploring two different facets of an important and complex conversation regarding the intersectionality between race and class in our flawed capitalist society. Unsurprisingly, Beyoncé has remained silent on the issue or, as Tina would say, is “minding her own business.” Maybe she’s got the right idea and now might be a good time for everyone to log off and enjoy the long weekend.