What Solange's BET Speech Means To A Twentysomething Black Creative
When Solange Knowles stood on stage, graciously accepting her BET Award for song "Cranes In The Sky," I was catapulted back to a time where I begged my mom to buy me her first solo album "Solo Star" and locked myself in my bedroom for hours listening. Solange has come a long way from those days — and so have I — but as a faithful member of the house of Saint Heron, quite a bit had led up to this moment. I wasn't the only one who was over the moon that she finally won her first BET Award, but Solange's speech last night had a way of scooping you off the ground and pushing you to believe that anything with a little black girl magic is possible.
Thanking her family and son who gives her the courage to create art, I watched spellbound by a woman's journey to create freely. And the quintessential song marked by that journey that fans can readily identify is "Cranes In The Sky," a testament to the struggles she endured as an artist to establish herself where she is. It seemed like everything aligned perfectly — or "the stars in the universe," as Solange put it — in that moment to show us, creatives, that the process to becoming who you want to be is about the time and patience you give yourself; like Solange, it's about taking the time to create your art on your terms.
It wasn't just what she said about representation that really hit home, but what it means watching how Solange blossomed into a creative powerhouse right before our eyes.
"I just want to thank BET for my teenage years — giving me images of queens like Missy Elliott, and Lil Kim and Aaliyah and Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill and Kelis," she said in her speech last night. "Showing me those images, and letting me know that sky's the limit."
Nervous, humbled, and glowing, Solange held on to her award while fans watched like proud parents. She did it. And with enough patience, enough hope, you can do it too.
Other than "A Seat At The Table," fans sat still with independent released EPs like "Losing You" and albums like "True," showing up to live performances and following her on a style and sound journey. And it was no easy journey! Often being compared to her sister, being grilled about living in Beyoncé's shadow, and life outside of her glamorous slay on every red carpet was every bit as messy and complicated as any creative reaching for that big dream. And after eight years, fans received a beautiful experience — a beautiful album full of growth and a confident voice we always knew was there.
As someone who took quite the leap of faith a month ago, and decided to lean into my writing, this meant everything. It meant that as a young black woman creative, I could create art that spoke to my community and have it be appreciated. It meant that taking a few risks even when people tell you "no," is part of the journey, and your gut will always give you the right answer, the right path. That you can determine your own destiny, on your own time, and the only person to make proud is yourself. That you are enough.
As Solange shared in a letter to her teenage self,
"there will be fear. a lot of it. there will be triumph. a lot of it. there will be constellations you want to reach for but can’t put your finger on. you will trace them like the scars on your body you got from trouble and the times of your life. you will take the long way to get to these Orions. the long way will become a theme in your life, but a journey you learn to love."
So for any young, black women who are taking leaps of faith, turning a new chapter or learning to bounce back from setbacks, you are enough. Not because Solange said so, but because she shows us what's possible for all of us. Her presence on stage, holding her first BET Award was the motivation to keep going, keep writing, keep creating. Solange's triumph shows that you can rise, you can rewrite the script and spread your creative wings to create space where there is none. You got this!