Listen: Some of My Best Friends Are Named Becky

Updated May 02, 2016 4:44pm PDT
Iggy

Is it too obvious, too black, too bitchy to say that if you take offense to the name Becky, you are probably a Becky?

We get it, Iggy. Your name is not Becky. Good for you. It’s okay to be in your feelings. But Lemonade was about a black woman being in her feelings. In her feelings about misogynoir, specifically. Ironically, your name is not Azalea either, you stole that from a black woman, right? And that’s kind of a colonialist, jealous, lack of solidarity-with-those-from-whom-you-obviously-get-your-sound Becky typa thing to do, isn’t it?

Ignoring the possibilities of identifying with Beyoncé across lines of gender as someone who has experienced misogyny, Iggy Azalea chooses to affirm just how white she is, by standing in solidarity with poor Beckys everywhere. Interestingly enough, it should be noted, that neither of the Beckys which the Beyhive believes is being referred to with the line, “you better call Becky with the good hair,” in Bey’s epic visual Album Lemonade, are white.

The concept of good hair, which black women have internalized for centuries, was created by white supremacist standards of feminine beauty. To some extent, it is been adopted by other women of color who also receive the message from a racist society that their skin and hair and bodies are not desirable to men, be they white men, or other men of color.

Culturally and historically speaking, Becky is an oblivious cis girl with some normatively and hegemonically attractive physical characteristics. She might be thin (with no butt), she might have naturally straight thin silky hair, she might have thin lips—she might generally have a thin, fragile sense of the world and her place in it.

Distracted by her insecurities, impervious to how her wielding of her privilege aids her and hurts other women, she might even call herself a feminist, or an ally, but she might not be in several ways.

Becky came into common usage for some of us at a Pride in San Francisco many years ago, when we looked around us and saw lots of cis and potentially straight, mostly white girls with straight hair and rainbow knee socks and tutus and tank tops which read, “I LOVE ME.” Except “ME” was crossed out, and in red, Becky, as she came to be known, had lovingly penned, “GAYS!”

Thanks girlfriend! So nice of you to take a break from centering yourself to love some people whose sexual (and thankfully street fashion) habits are different from yours. I’m sure you could have found or made a shirt that already said, “I LOVE GAYS,” but it’s the thought that counts, right?

We created party themes called "Night of a Thousand Becky’s" in which we all dressed up as our own special version of “Becky”, or “Chad” if he’s more your thing, and did photoshoots advertising snack foods we were scandalously allowing ourselves to eat while on uppers. Party. We would hardly say that anything that creates a party theme out of making fun of appropriative, annoying, white straight girls is akin to something which actually harms people of any given identity, such as say, those Kill Whitey parties which loveable Beckys such as Cocorose liked to attend to drink 40s and dance to hip hop in blackface in the comfort of someone else’s backyard as long as there were no actual black people there (if this reference was before your time, you may reference the film Dear White People, which is not our favorite, but paints a pretty picture).

Not to burst your bubble, Ig, but racism actually refers to harm experienced by people of color from people with institutional and societal power, i.e. the ability to harm in myriad large scale ways, i.e., white people.

The habit of calling girls who think they are better than you Becky started a long time ago for many people in many different ways. But all in all: Becky is not better than you or me. And her feelings don’t matter more than ours do.

Enter the Brown Mean Girl. We've teased y’all with this concept before. And she’s still burgeoning, blossoming into focus. Let us be specific: the Brown Mean Girl is called mean, not always because she is actually cruel, but because she sometimes hurts the feelings of white people. We have been Brown Mean Girls because we've been protective, even defensive of ourselves and our kin.We have been assertive. We have stood up for ourselves. We have let our rage and our wounds and fire and tears boil over, mix with dirt, get muddy, get sloppy, touch you, soil you.

And like Queen Bey herself, we ain’t sorry. Yes, we have sometimes chosen our black rage over the possibilities of cross-racial sisterhood. AsCosmopolitan points out, to drag Becky is to ignore Jay Z’s culpability. To ignore misogynoir, and how black women feel the pain of abuse, contempt, dismissal, and disrespect from different genders of different races, is negligent at best.

Leaping with Warsan Shire’s poetical sense, Beyonce declares:

“If it's what you truly want ... I can wear her skin over mine. Her hair over mine. Her hands as gloves. Her teeth as confetti. Her scalp, a cap. Her sternum, my bedazzled cane. We can pose for a photograph, all three of us. Immortalized ... you and your perfect girl."

Of this same tone in “Hold Up” she says: “I’m not too perfect to ever feel this worthless.”

Does this shock you? Some ask if offering to wear another woman’s skin is anti-feminist. Some of those asking have been black women. We think that it’s important to be grotesque in honesty, even if a feeling is fleeting, changing, complex, nuanced. Unfair.

As black women and femmes we are told that our hair isn’t good enough, our skin isn’t good enough, our bodies, certainly not good enough. But what good, what miraculous bodies that can hold all of this vitriol and violence and shame, and rise up singing? Like men too have been taught to, we front, we fake it till we make it it. We declare ourselves independent, fierce, gorgeous, badass, loveable. Until we too believe, with at least some small bright part of ourselves. And we should.

Did it work too well? Did you believe that we never get hurt feelings? Were you too distracted by your own?

Becky, are you doing your best? Have you been fair?

You say you love Beyonce and her music—but how could you when you haven’t even listened to what she is saying?

We could care less about Becky or her supposedly good hair. Because this shit ain't about Becky. An hour long visual album by arguably the hardest working person in entertainment and our 24 hour media cycle has reduced it to one line, about some Becky, with supposedly good hair.

Nothing to say of the amazing, never ending, procession of blackness, femininity, Southerness, and love—no doubt painstakingly crafted by Beyoncé and her amazing team of women and queer men of color. Whiteness requires us to talk about Becky, to recenter her in a space she was never meant to occupy. To place her on top of an hour long visual album that simply says, "Black women's lives matter." Not black men, not black queer people—although our voices have been included—but Black women.

But this article here: we want you all to know this is for Beckys who haven't considered the world doesn't revolve around white women anymore when misogynoir, anti-black racism, and homophobia was not enough for you.

The killing of Emmett Till was about Becky.

Beauty standards: about Becky.

The women's suffrage movement—about Becky.

Hillary Clinton's campaign: largely about Becky.

But this album? Will not be about Becky with the oily hair with her ole melanin-deficient ass.

It's going to be about Serena Williams, who has had to deal with years of misogynoir in tennis. Undoubtedly the greatest female tennis player of all time, even though Maria Sharapova often overshadows her when it comes to endorsement deals.

This is going to be about Warshan Shire! The amazing Somali-British writer, poet and activist who gifted us with the beautiful monologues Beyoncé introduced a broader audience to by using her lines as interludes between the songs of Lemonade.

This is going to be about the South African singer Wynter Gordon who cowrote many of the songs on the visual album. This is going to be about the regal mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner; the actress Quvenzhané Wallis; the model Winnie Harlow; and civil rights activist and Queen of Creole Cuisine, Leah Chase; Beyoncé's grandmother, shown at the end of the visual album speaking about Lemonade; Tina Beyincé-Lawson; Blue Ivy; the women that are in blood co-creation with her.

This video will not be for Beckies who are melanin deficient who haven't considered that, just no!, it's not about you.

This article though: this is for Becky's who don't understand what good hair means; who take black girl hairstyles,  who take Black music, but not black politics—who in fact actively work against them, who are melanin-challenged and for whom obviously misogynoir, anti-black racism, and homophobia are not enough.

This article, is for you.

This article was a collaboration between Lyric Seal aka Neve Be and Kaiden Nia-Ali

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This post was created through the tandem efforts of multiple people on the HARLOT team, who are credited individually in the post itself.