Written By Khanyisile Msebenzi
It’s not like we hadn’t watched Beyoncé’s performance at Coachella online last year already, seeing it again was like walking into feminist heaven!
Going into the film I thought it was a mostly behind the scenes film, but it actually was mostly the concert, this was the only disappointment I had with the film. In this world of celebrity over exposure no one can blame us for wanting to know more about Beyoncé’s daily life and thinking. But it did give enough insight to satiate curiosities for a week or so. But, I can definitely say, this film made me fall more in love with Beyonce. I didn’t think it was possible, and so I promote myself as head of the Beyhive in my circle of friends.
1 I loved how Beyonce unreservedly shared about the difficulties she experienced during her pregnancy. Maternal health, especially black woman maternal health has come into the spotlight lately in the USA because a much higher percentage of black women die of complications during pregnancy compared to other races. In Africa the statistics are even worse with many countries having healthcare systems that aren’t equipped to properly diagnose or treat pregnancy complications like preeclampsia fast enough. There are more conditions that lead to either the death of a baby or the mother. Beyonce had to have an emergency c-section to save her life and that of her twins.
2 Beyonce works hard for her body! She was clearly unfit and had gained almost twice her weight during pregnancy. She shows us how she struggles to get fit and strong again and also shares how scared she was she would never be the same. She went on a strict diet, eliminated all carbohydrates and had a hectic work out regime. One of my favourite parts is when she fits into one of the costumes she used to wear before pregnancy and she calls Jay Z to share the news and he is really excited for her and reacts with the enthusiasm we expect from our girlfriends who understand the stress of trying to lose weight and fit into old clothes. Guys, learn from Jay Z! If it matters to us and it stresses us, even if you think it is trivial, act as though you are just as invested as we are, lol!
3 The first film Beyonce did was to give us a peak into her life as she had taken time off to raise Blue Ivy and to get some much deserved rest. This film had a clear message, her Coachella performance was a message, it was a celebration of black culture and black history, owning it without being ashamed. She says she couldn’t believe she was the first black woman to headline such a big and international concert, and practically shamed the organizers that it took them so long when black culture influences America and the world so much. Her being inspired by what goes on at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) made me wish we had the same culture here. But instead, in South Africa black colleges and universities are seen as offering inferior quality of education and overall experience. Perhaps our black elite can start contributing to these and build institutions of excellence that take pride in being black instead of having all of us clamoring to get into the Wits, Stellenboschs and UCTs. HBCUs in the USA are mainly funded by its black alumni.
4 Beyonce used her Coachella performance to celebrate every woman. She had women of all shapes and sizes on that stage and she did it purposefully too. One of the women interviewed in the film is a sister from Nigeria who is now American and she was still in disbelief that she was chosen to participate in the show for Beyonce. Beyonce set out to tell us ladies that we are beautiful as we are, as unique as we are no matter how thick, or thin, or tall. No matter our skin tone or the texture of our hair, she didn’t seek to find ‘clones’ of herself, we all could see ourselves on that stage. And importantly celebrate all black peoples not just African Americans.
5 My biggest learning was this -> Beyonce was involved in every part of planning her Coachella performance. She was involved in the choosing of everything from the design of the stage, materials used to make costumes, choreography and the placement of the smallest thing! That’s a big job! Whilst still working on her own fitness, performance, breastfeeding and caring for her babies at the same damn time! Not only that, she was also ensuring that the performance looks good live on stage as well as in video. There was a time when most of the team thought they had nailed the performance but she wasn’t happy with how it translates on video. She chose every single dancer and every single artist and performer. That is a Girl Boss, she didn’t outsource a single part of this, she took full control. Often in our lives or at school or at work we leave something important to us in the hands of somebody else and when they drop the ball we blame them. We are quick to blame others. There is nothing that we should ever feel we don’t have control over, not even the financing of our university fees, we can always find a way.
6 Beyonce brought on her sister Solange and her sisters from Destiny’s Child, she didn’t have to. Nobody expected her to and nobody would have crucified her or judged her if she hadn’t brought them on. Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams wouldn’t have blamed her if she didn’t include them in her show. Destiny’s Child has been ‘over’ for years, and yet she still brings them onto key and big shows, she did the same with her big Super Bowl Show. She walks the talk, that we can all shine, she doesn’t try to shine alone. As women this is very important, as we fight for equality we need to do so together and pull each other up. You don’t lose anything by helping another woman.
Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was as impactful on the world’s consciousness as her Super Bowl performance. Which also had a strong message about black pride, black unity and a call to action around Black Lives Matter.
Beyonce is an artist using her celebrity to influence the world for the better and she’s doing this proudly as a black woman.
Watch the Official Homecoming Trailer Here