Obsessing Over Bey's Twins In 2017 Isn't Trivial
On Wednesday, February 1, on the first day of Black History Month, and five days after Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Beyoncé announced that she is pregnant in an Instagram post that set the internet on fire. In a news cycle that had been dominating by the good — Langston Hughes' birthday, a Budweiser commercial celebrating immigration — and the bad — #DonaldTrumpOnBlackHistoryMonth, anyone? — there was Beyoncé. Here to save 2017. Here to save us all. If you think this is a dramatic overreaction to hearing that a 35-year-old singer that I've never met is having twins, then sit down and let me school you.
Since Donald Trump was made president-elect in November 2016, since he threw his hat in the ring as a candidate, since the #BlackLivesMatter movement caught steam, since Trayvon Martin was killed, since, since. No matter how far back you try to go, there are countless, countless tragedies and injustices that have been weighing people down. But 2016 in particular felt rough, so much so that it reached meme status.
This year has been no different, especially since President Trump has spent his first week in office signing executive order after executive order designed to strip the rights of women and minorities, and that threaten to destroy any diplomatic goodwill that the United States might have abroad. And, even if you disagree with my assessment, we can all at least agree that his policies and election have been so controversial as to completely and drastically divide a nation that calls itself United. The Doomsday Clock has been moved closer to midnight, for goodness sake.
And, into all of that, steps Beyoncé, with some damn good news.
As an editor of entertainment news, I am often sanctimoniously accused of promoting triviality. It's been a talking point among my relatives: "Kadeen, people are dying," said a friend, once. "Why are you writing about a Nicki Minaj single?" The thing that such people, such criticisms, don't understand is that the world needs triviality. Triviality is cathartic. The world is a scary, uncertain place, full of tragedy and injustice, racism and sexism, microaggressions and macroaggressions. Once you become aware of the war to promote simple human decency, it's a battle that you fight every single second of every single day. I'm a black woman and an immigrant to this country, and I have had to fight to be respected for my blackness, for my womanhood, and for my right to belong in this country that I wasn't born in. I am angry, always. I am tired, always.
And that's exactly why I work in entertainment news. It's cathartic.
It's cathartic to know that, even when a well-meaning friend has expressed surprise that I can't dance or don't like chicken, a black woman and role model like Nicki Minaj is taking pictures with Drake and Lil' Wayne so I have the hope of a single about to drop. It's cathartic to know that, even when Donald Trump dominates the news cycle with a continuing debate about the photo evidence of crowd size at his inauguration, Lin-Manuel Miranda is making a Spotify playlist full of songs that will inspire and encourage me to keep on keepin' on. It's cathartic to know that, even when Vice President Mike Pence has seemingly reversed his stance on the idea of a Muslim ban, Beyoncé is about to have not one, but two babies.
These things allow me to purge the ever-constant negative in favor of delighting in an overwhelming positive. Instead of feeling angry, instead of feeling tired, I feel excited, hopeful, happy. Instead of feeling like the fight never ends, I get to remember what I'm fighting for. I get to see immigrants like me, women like me, working hard to put good back into a world that sometimes seems full of so much bad.
As Bustle editor Lia Beck wrote when Dream Kardashian was born,
I would never suggest that we place the burden of lightening the mood in this country on a baby who was born only a few hours ago, but this is not about the baby. This is about "Dream Kardashian" the idea, the story that her parents have intentionally drawn us into... They have made themselves into a form of escapism — as has the entire Kardashian family — and I'm welcoming that with open arms right now.
It's not about one baby or two babies, one song or one playlist, this celebrity or that celebrity. It's about the idea and the hope that they inspire in people. I don't need to tell anyone that Beyoncé is a role model who has been one of the most high-profile representations of all that black women can do and be and say since 2013 at the latest. She's not Michelle Obama, sure, but for singers, dancers, and creative black women, she is one of the ideals, and she has embraced her role as not just an icon, but a black icon, a lot in recent years. As she said in her song with Minaj, "Feeling Myself,"
"I stop the world. Male or female, it make no difference. I stop the world. World stop. Carry on."
With this announcement, Beyoncé may not have stopped the world, but she certainly made it seem a little more bearable. No matter what your personal tragedy, we are about to witness the Carter "family [grow] by two," according to Beyoncé's Instagram caption. No matter how dark the world seems to get, life still goes on, and there are still things to smile about. And no matter how long the road to equality for every man, woman, and child might be, we are both not alone in that fight nor does that fight have to be the only thing we think about, talk about, or write about. There's more to the world than just the bad.
And with one simple Instagram post, on the first day of Black History Month and five days after Donald Trump signed an executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, Beyoncé reminded us all of that. And it was exactly what we needed.