Lessons from my Obsession with Beyoncé by Shannon-Eli Braxton

Beyonce and Jay-Z in Cuba
Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Cuba

For several months this year, I’ve been obsessed with Beyoncé.  If there was a new picture of her, I had to see it. A new YouTube video, I had to watch it. But as spring started to bloom and the winter chill lifted, I noticed my obsession was making me depressed.

Though I would never admit this to anyone, I didn’t just want to see Beyoncé,  I wanted to be Beyoncé.  I kept trying to talk some sense into myself, reminding myself that no one has a perfect life no matter how perfect it may look online, on TV and in magazines. Then she went to Cuba and wore the cutest outfit EVER!

My next strategy was to harshly judge her lack of modesty. “I would never wear such revealing clothes.” And, “How could she promote the objectification of women after all we have to fight for?!” But that didn’t work either. Just when I thought I was over her, she became the spokes model for H&M, released a song called “Bow Down” and dyed her hair jet black.

So, a few weeks ago, as I sat staring at her latest citing, I whispered a confession to my co-worker; “Dan,” I said, “I’m really jealous of Beyoncé; she has the perfect life and no matter how hard I look for some proof of human flaws, I find none.”

In comes divine intervention…

Photo Credit:: Shannon Braxton
Photo Credit: Shannon Eli Braxton

Last Sunday afternoon my mother sent me a text that said, “The intersection of Park Avenue and Lexington Street is being named after your great grandmother today at 3pm.” Why she waited to tell me this and only gave me 2 hours notice, I wasn’t sure. Still, I headed to the street naming ceremony.

My great grandmother, Vashti Turley Murphy, was an activist for women’s rights and the co-founder of a large sorority with a mission to create equality, Delta Sigma Theta Soroity, Inc.

I grew up celebrated for being the descendant of civil rights leaders. Quite frankly, I never really thought it was that big of a deal. I mean, her accomplishments happened so long ago; I could never understand why people wanted to take so many pictures of me, her great granddaughter who was obsessed with Beyoncé.

Then, as if great grandma herself descended from heaven and disconnected my Internet, I got it. I totally got it. While members of Delta Sigma Theta encircled my family and guests, holding up pictures of young black women behind bars and groups of women standing in the cold with protest signs, a message became clear.

And as if those images weren’t touching enough, one of the oldest members of the sorority  stood behind the mic and asked, “What will YOU do to continue the legacy, and keep the civil right movement alive?”

After the ceremony, our family marched to see the unveiling of the sign and my life completely changed. What really matters is not Beyoncé, being pretty, funny or popular.  What matters is becoming a part of the solution for our world’s problems. It matters so much that only people who make huge contributions to creating a better society become immortal celebrities.

Not to diss Beyoncé, she is one of the greatest performers of all time, but all the booty shaking in the world ain’t gonna get a street named after you.  My new obsession is my
nonprofit to end the harassment of women. Please follow the movement: Help Stop Street Harassment.

Emelda De Coteau
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4 Replies to “Lessons from my Obsession with Beyoncé by Shannon-Eli Braxton”

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Rona!! 🙂 We hope you’ll follow the blog via email. :)) Live & Love In Color – E

  1. Great article cuz!!! Our great grandmother paved the way, now we have to maintain the path and go beyond. <3 Q

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