I’m officially two months, 19 days and 14 hours from my 40th birthday, so I should have something more reflective and thoughtful to say as Beyoncé turns 40. We’ve grown into our womanhood together. Her music has been the soundtrack to my life since I was 16 years old. For every moment there’s a Beyoncé song playing in the background.
We drank Hennessy and tequila and danced to our favorite songs in an old chapel surrounded by Christian icons and beautiful artwork, and it was holy. We saw the sacred in the secular, and God was in that place.
Many of us have chosen to worship a God who resembles the white slave master, a God focused on controlling behavior, policing sexuality, and keeping people in their place, a God aligned with the capitalistic, white supremacist, sexist, and patriarchal values of mainstream America. But that isn’t the only God we have access to.
Salt-N-Pepa’s lyrics helped me learn to verbalize the concepts of sexual liberation, autonomy, and women’s ability to be sexual without losing their dignity. Their lyrics were a rebellious voice that challenged the sexism, respectability politics, and the confining and conservative interpretation of womanhood that was present in the church and culture around me.
We have the responsibility to bear witness to the way people who don’t look like us, people who don’t love like us, and people who don’t confront the world like us experience the world. Let books be a tiny step in helping us do just that.
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