May 30, 2019 | By Susan Fernandez
It’s fair to say that it was not a coincidence that the Grammys 2017 fell right in the middle of Black History Month in America. Last night’s performances were quite simply an ode to black girl magic and everything in between.
It started with Beyoncé as the black Madonna on stage, went through the magic and rage of A Tribe Called Quest (RIP Phife Dawg) and ended with the gospel magic of Chance The Rapper with Kirk Franklin and Bruno Mars in ode to Prince.
It displayed the multi-faceted magic of being black, the creativity that permeates our culture and the beauty of performance.
But mostly it was an example of representation. Beyoncé when collecting her award for Lemonade explained that she created that body of work for her daughter and the young girls coming up behind her to be able to see themselves represented in the mainstream. Then she argued that this is something that people of every race should have. It was the same thing that motivated her sister’s hit album of last year too. They both understood how key it is to see yourself represented.
And it’s not just having a visual in the mainstream, but having the best visual. Seeing yourself as magical and angelic. There is a reason that Beyoncé was dressed in white and gold, with a sea of goddesses around her. For fashion fans the visual was reminiscent of the Alexander McQueen’s/Kate Moss 3D Hologram that was on display at the recent Met exhibition.
For black women it was a visual that showed us in the best light, the very definition of Black Girl Magic, a complete contrast to the stereotype of the angry black woman that is perpetuated throughout society; it reminded us of our glory.
Representation is talked about a lot in the industries of fashion, beauty and music. And this year more than ever it will be a topic that comes up again and again. It is why the L’Oreal beauty campaign (which included all races) went viral and why fashion designers are being pushed to celebrate diverse runways and hire models of all colours. Seeing yourself matters. And if you have always seen yourself in ad campaigns, and in magazines and on the runway, you will not understand the importance of this need for representation and diversity. But for most of us (the ones less often featured, the ones who collect special edition magazines with black models on the cover and give them pride of place like trophies on a wall, buying more copies than we needed to guarantee sales, so that they magazine will do more covers like that in the future; seeing yourself represented on a massive scale matters). And brands that embrace the diversity, in everything from design to employment are the ones who will stand out to this diverse generation of consumers. It is why the Always Like A Girl campaign was a hit – a well researched, well executed campaign that overturned outdated stereotypes and represented women and girls in the best light.
And that’s why the Grammy’s was everything last night. A main stage representation of blackness, broadcast to millions. The sultry soul of Beyoncé, the old school R&B of Bruno Mars, The Power to The People of A Tribe Called Quest, and The Gospel choir backdrop of Chance the Rapper- the music and the magic.
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