A Permanent Seat At The Table We've Built

Pablo Picasso once said, “ The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls”. Living the experience of a black woman in America, the dust is a haboob that hounds our mysticism. This storm silences our identities in the wind and the power of our beauty is clouded by Eurocentric standards. Our beautiful kinks and protective styles are degraded and when we empower one another, the dust still seems to take us by storm. Our bodies, skin, hair and culture are replicated, but our oppressors reduce us. It’s an unsettling feeling when attributes of our core identity are frowned upon, but celebrated on non-black women. Anyone can tan and bronze, but the way our skin illuminates when the sun kisses our skin is something that could never be duplicated. This is something I’m reminded of everyday, but Solange’s A Seat at The Table is eternally a brown girl’s manifesto to claiming ownership of the table we’ve built, finding and living our truth & celebrating our power through all of our storms.

One of the storms we endure is the “angry black girl” narrative, which Solange challenges in “Mad” ft. Lil Wayne.  Exposing the often questioned “ Why you always gotta be mad?”, she responds “ I’ve got a lot to be mad about..but I’m not really allowed to be mad”. We have a right to be mad that our lives our devalued and because it’s legal, justice has not been served. We have a right to be mad that we have to tell our young children how to always submit to the men and women who are supposed to “protect and serve” us.  We have a right to be mad that people still ask to touch our hair. But, unfortunately we are not allowed to be mad. 

When we express our pain, anger or frustration it translates to being anti-white which is deemed a threat, in addition to the primeval threat that is the color of our skin. Once again this puts us in this storm, but you know what gives me comfort during storms? Soul Food, and ASATT has become just that. It’s like going to your auntie’s house for Easter Sunday, right after a church service that seemed like it would never end. It’s food that heals your soul. I’m talking about that big plate of food that your grandma made you with the yam juice drizzling all over the macaroni & cheese and collard greens and you’re embracing all of its goodness. The type of soul food that carries you to an elevated spiritual plane and connects you with the higher self that you never knew existed. “Cranes in the Sky” evoked those exact feelings and brought tears to my eyes as feelings of rejection and not being enough rapidly resurfaced. Moments later, I smiled to myself confessing how silly it was to feel such a way because I am everything and more. We are everything and more and need to constantly remind each other of this. We have to gain peace within ourselves to live in peace.  

Master P introduced the album in a spoken word commentary, “ Everybody is always talking about peace, but, as long you find peace in what you doing then you successful, and that's what people don't realize..cause the glory is in you”. We’ve fallen victim to the vicious cycle of being devalued; so severely that it reflects how we feel about each other and ourselves. The most important thing to remember is glory is being at peace with oneself while discovering and fulfilling our purpose. As Solange has done, we have to find peace from within. It’s time to define what makes us happy and acknowledge we, black women, are are the standard, though they treat us like discarded muses.

A Seat At The Table reaffirms my magic while taking me on a journey of angst, frustration, liberation and pride. It serves as a timeless expression of self-discovery embracing one’s blackness. The most inspiring element is witnessing Solange transmute into her most authentic self over the past 15 years. From her debut album Solo Star to the sharp-tongued naturalista with renowned creative direction, she is living her truth. I personally believe we have two sole purposes in life: to love and live in our truth. With an abundance of distractions it makes it difficult to tune into our authentic selves, because we’re constantly seeking validation from the outside world. The influence of social media amplifies this, but once we dig deep enough, we are all capable of projecting our inner light that shines just as bright as our favorite Knowles sisters.

Solo’s voice is an eminent instrument that projects the sounds of beaming light and infectious power. It’s a reassurance that we should always combat the dust, live in our truth, and though we are often mocked, our beauty and splendor can never be duplicated. Solange’s body of work is a necessary inspirational tool assisting us on this self validation journey, because “This shit is for us, some shit you can’t touch”.