“When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture.”
I’m sure you’ve watched Beyoncé’s Netflix film Homecoming by now (and if you haven’t, you’re seriously missing out).
Anyone who knows me knows I love Beyoncé (I mean, who doesn’t?), so I was ecstatic last year when I found out she was headlining Coachella, the first Black woman to do so. As Beyoncé says in the film, “ain’t that about a bitch.”
I never got into the hype that is Coachella, but it was Beyoncé, so Netflix gave me the next best thing. The film, named after the homecoming events that are HUGE at HBCUs, shows the full Coachella performance and gives you a behind the scenes look at the eight-month rehearsal period.
In recent years, Coachella has come under fire for anti-LGBTQ behavior and of course, the overly common cultural appropriating fashion. So, it’s not exactly the most diverse event of the year. But by highlighting the beauty that is blackness, Bey called Coachella out through her performance.
Not only did she give a performance masterpiece, but she gave Coachella guests and millions of Netflix subscribers an inside look of American Black culture, particularly when it comes to historically black colleges and universities, more commonly known as HBCUs.
Throughout the two hour film, quotes from famous Black scholars fill the screen and voiceovers by Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Danai Gurira, Nina Simone, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie can be heard in the background, highlighting what it means to be Black and what it means to be a Black woman.
Obviously, this was a show for everyone to enjoy, but at its core, it’s meant to hold something special for Black people. It’s a nod to us and our culture. (Beyoncé’s mom was actually nervous that white people wouldn’t understand it.)
Beyoncé gave us an all Black orchestra and drumline as well as HBCU majorette dancers and steppers. She sang a beautiful rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, aka The Black National Anthem. She also had dancers of all sizes — not in the background either, but front and center. They were all dancing their fabulous asses off next to Bey. It was a celebration of black bodies and talent.
For me, the shining glory came in the middle of the film when Bey describes her reasoning for shining a light on Black talent. I cried harder than I thought I would.
“It was important to me that anyone that had never seen themselves represented felt like they were on their stage as us…[sic]Thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoice in the pain, rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right. I wanted everyone to be grateful for their curves, their sass, their honesty. Thankful for their freedom…We were able to create a free safe space where none of us were marginalized.”
Many people are calling the film a love letter to Black people. It’s a love letter, a joyous celebration. It’s pure perfection.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.