Lemonade: Beyoncé’s Redemption Song

Beyoncé knows how to pick her moments (and her platforms). There is something quite poetic (both literally and figuratively) in the premiere of her sixth album, Lemonade, as a music-meets-film experience on the premium cable channel, HBO, on Saturday, April 23. Just days before her musical event, we had learned that the U.S. Treasury Department plans […]

What Beyonce, Black Girls Rock! and Popular Education Mean for the Feminist Movement

Having been aware of celebrity DJ Beverly Bond’s nonprofit organization Black Girls Rock! and its annual awards show for quite some time, I must confess that this year was the first time I actually tuned into the BET show. And watching the parade of truly amazing black women from all walks of life, who are making an impact […]

Lupita Nyong’o and the Value of Visibility

This article appears in the spring 2016 issue of Ms. Subscribe today to read more from the current issue featuring cover woman Lupita Nyong’o! After appearing in North America’s highest-grossing movie of all time this winter—Star Wars: The Force Awakens—Lupita Nyong’o has turned up in an unexpected place. Not as wife to Will Smith’s doctor in […]

Beyoncé as Conjure Woman: Reclaiming the Magic of Black Lives (That) Matter

The first image we see of Beyoncé, in her newly released video for her song “Formation,” is the pop star atop a New Orleans police car, partly submerged in flood water.  At once invoking the tragedy of post-Katrina devastation and police brutality—both extensions of state violence against black lives—Beyoncé strategically positions her body, clad in […]

On Spring Valley High, Police Violence, Rape Culture and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

When video surfaced recently of Deputy Ben Fields assaulting a young black female student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, I was still absorbing the details of a disturbing conversation I’d had with young, black, college-age women about rape culture and campus sexual violence. Despite the traumatic experiences relating to sexual assault that they or their […]

Straight Outta Compton and the Power of Black Women’s “Side Stories”

When director F. Gary Gray chose to cut the scene depicting rap producer Dr. Dre’s infamous assault on journalist Dee Barnes, then-TV host of Fox’s hip-hop show Pump it Up! back in January 1991, he dismissed the incident as one of many “side stories” that distracted from the main one concerning rap group N.W.A.’s rise to fame […]

Rihanna Unchained

I must confess that Rihanna is a guilty pleasure of mine. While pop stars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have claimed feminist identities, Rihanna refuses to toe political lines, rejects respectability politics, and unabashedly engages in bad behavior. Our society expects oh-so-high standards for women and people of color who must self-present as “role models.” Rihanna is having none […]

Say Their Names

I’m still reeling from the shock of the massacre that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the oldest black churches in this nation, its history is one of resistance and solace. And this history continues to bear witness to the horrors of white supremacy with the recent murders of nine African […]

A Girl Child Ain’t Safe

“I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.” So said Sofia, the hefty, feisty woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (and immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation). In a novel highlighting protagonist Celie, an incest survivor who ultimately […]

Bessie and the Musical Legacy of Black Feminism

From the written page to the streets, and even to cable TV, black feminism is hitting its stride. Not only is a black feminist theorist like Kimberlé Crenshaw changing the political landscape—first with her policy brief, “Black Girls Matter,” and her article of the same name in Ms.‘ current issue, and later with her co-authored brief, […]