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The Beyoncé vs Taylor Public Conversations along with Katt Williams Expose Opens Up Generational Trauma as it relates to the Black Economy

Happy Black History Month, family.

We have so many brothers and sisters that are unrelated to us in the everyday sense, but those that we feel understand us in an ethos sort of sense. Beyonce is that sister or maybe Aunty to the millennial Black community. We see a lot of her wins as our wins and vice versa. When she won her Grammys, the ones that put her over the top, she used the word “we” in her Instagram announcement. I went to the RWT on her birthday and also to watch the movie she dropped on December 1st, World Aids Day. She mentioned her fanbase as an extension of her family, “the beehive gets me,” you can hear her say confidently. Indeed, we swarm. I have been a Taylor Swift fan since Kanye took that girl’s award and told her to hold up a second. I was a fan before that moment but used my live Twitter fingers to show love to Taylor as a face from the urban community. A lot of my Black friends sided with Kanye at the time, and they hate him now for his same outspokenness. The tweets don’t lie.

I grew up listening to hip-hop around the 1990s. After two of my favorite artists were killed by gun violence, I turned my back on Black music, especially rap music. R and B was never my go-to, it was too slow and mushy for me. That changed when I heard Seal perform Kiss From a Rose when I went to see Batman. But in essence, I found my way musically in pop. Total request life. MTV. Backstreet Boys. Britney. Justin. Christina. Those creators made me feel safe. It wasn’t like I needed music to teach me Blackness anyway. My family is first-generation American, being immigrants from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago. We watched all the Black TV shows during the 1990s as a family. I explored different kinds of music because I fell in love with the performing arts. Dance was my thing. My first tap performance was to I Love A Piano.

Since 2024 has kicked off, we have had a hard dose of financial realities. In fairness, the volume began rising after The Color Purple’s main cast hit the media for their promo tour. Taraji, bless her soul, exposed her paycheck to which Black America charged Oprah, another self-made Black billionaire. Hold up. It got so bad that Taraji came back out to say, though she appreciates the cultural response, please leave Oprah out of it. It got me thinking. Why didn’t the Black people come for the Jewish guy who’s also a producer and who gave Oprah the job initially? Cue Kanye.

These discussions have sparked a much-needed conversation about the systemic barriers that have been placed on Black individuals and businesses, hindering their ability to thrive and succeed. Two weeks ago, Jay-Z brought more attention to the Recording Academy on their own stage. Folks responded with praise. But what he was saying is the same thing Kanye was saying to MTV about Taylor years back. Taylor imma let you finish but Single Ladies is iconic…He called out the Recording Academy, Beck is no one compared to Bey, she dropped an album with no promo… It’s funny when Kanye speaks out initially; all deem it as too much, but when Jay Z says the same thing years later, it’s iconic and long overdue.

There are Prince’s, and there are Michael’s, and how the white-owned entertainment world uses them is neither truthful nor shockworthy. This is not the first time we have seen the media push two Black voices into the margins just to get us to argue with each other. Maybe that is their overall goal.

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift’s careers are prime examples of the stark differences in opportunities and success afforded to Black artists compared to their white counterparts. While Beyoncé has undoubtedly achieved immense success in the music industry, she has also faced constant scrutiny and criticism, often attributed to her race. On the other hand, Taylor Swift, a white artist, has been praised and idolized, benefiting from a system that is designed to uplift and support individuals like her.

In the backlash, Taylor, who has, in my opinion, taken on her fair share of real-life hate by the men in her industry, continues to be compared to Black artists who aren’t being considered. I bought two important books this year, Britney Spears’ memoir and Kerry Washington’s memoir. Taylor Swift is a modern version of what Britney could have been if times were different. Taylor’s work has been stolen. Taylor has been vocal about who those people are. Taylor has taken risks where other white artists failed to meet the courage. When she called out gay rights during the Donald Trump era, she risked her very country star roots that helped house her. She took it upon herself to highlight OTHERS saying in her Miss Americana documentary that she wants to be on the right side of history. She said the experience freed her from a version of herself she did not like. She is one of the rare artists to use her whiteness as a privilege for good. She showed up at the RWT premier as she, too, is a fan of Queen Bey and is in the beehive. She said she longed to use Bey’s career moves as a lighthouse for her creative endeavors. They both challenged the male-driven, white-owned music industry in different ways. Taylor removed her work from a streaming platform in a boycott demanding that the computer companies pay her and other artists fairly. Bey dropped her music without going through the necessary promotional channels she had done with her bandmates Destiny’s Child. Taylor uses her social media feeds as her public relations tool. She announced her new album at the Grammys while winning album of the year. She is also on a mission to re-record all of her masters from her previously stolen work. The Black haters who feel like Taylor is underrated never want to discuss the data. The white haters claiming Bey just isn’t the best never want to discuss her cultural impact, on the globe.

This disparity is further highlighted by Katt Williams’ recent exposé, where he boldly called out systemic racism in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. He shed light on the unequal treatment and opportunities given to Black comedians, further emphasizing the widespread impact of generational trauma on the Black economy. The lack of representation and opportunities for Black individuals in the entertainment industry has a ripple effect on the economy, as it limits the potential for growth and success within the community.

Facts are facts. Katt Williams wanted to just let us know what industry plants looked like. His interview on Club Shay Shay has passed 45 million views. It opened up online conversations that led back to 40 acres and a mule. That was the amount due to the slaves from the plantations they were now freed from. Beyonce will always have to work twice as hard as Taylor to go half as far. One is Black, and the other is a white woman. One represents Africa, the other, Europe. It feels off-putting to some to drum up these everyday ‘hood’ conversations to a more political-socio-economic backdrop, but why else would Black votes be under attack in 2024? Why are book bans up in the South? Why is suppression of Black voices so high?

Because it works, and our unseriousness in these conversations only works to hurt us further.

Generational trauma refers to the psychological and emotional impact that is passed down from one generation to the next. In the context of the Black community, this trauma is deeply rooted in the legacy of slavery, segregation, and systemic racism. The effects of this trauma can be seen in various aspects of Black life, including the economy. The history of slavery and segregation has left many Black families without access to resources and opportunities to build generational wealth. This has resulted in a persistent wealth gap between Black and white households, with the average Black household having only 10% of the wealth of the average white household.

I remember the beehive publicly stating how much the tickets were for the tour. I remember the Swifties breaking the internet and Ticketmaster trying to access her tickets. Is that the same reaction by fans? No. We are already saying, Bey is too expensive. We’re not saying, well, this is the value she has earned, but instead, create a plantation version of self-hate. Who does Beyonce think she is to charge us this amount, is what I heard. So, is it the industry or the culture? Katt Williams came across as an everyday person and a celebrity at the same time. His net worth is around 3 million but he humbled a lot of instances in the conversation, like when the host asked about working hard, “man everybody works hard, the people working as plumbers and mechanics are working hard”. He brought the conversation to the noncelebrity community, referencing Blackness and richness as two different cultures. Dave Chapelle has criticized Williams for not calling out the white boys in the industry and why he opts to focus on fellow Black comedians. Isn’t this a part of the generational issue, though? Keeping your family’s dark and disgusting secrets doesn’t free them from your bloodline; it keeps it hidden.

Everyone has secrets, but how has the lack of transparency among household-named celebrities caused people like Taraji to feel alienated? Mo’nique has also been to Club Shay Shay but was included in the backlash for folks telling Taraji the same thing they said to Jay; someone already said that. What makes Taraji and Jay-Z’s point of view on the same issue yield different responses from the community? Is it because too much of Kanye and too much of Mo’Nique triggers us as everyday Black workers, Black consumers, and Black business owners? I love Oprah; if you are a new reader of mine, I have to state this here. For me to love someone, I need to be clear. Oprah is the voice of the me-too movement, highlighting her CP character, Sofia, as one of the first characters to address sexual abuse and incest in film. I would love Oprah to be the Oprah we know and put herself in the hot seat. I give props to Jada and Will Smith for not shying away from the public perception but finding a way to be open with everyone. You may disagree with how someone is living, but at least they are honest. It is the relationship Taylor opts to have with her fanbase. She is real with them. Too much behind-the-scenes-ness has created a culture where the industry owners can paint a hero as a villain and a villain as a hero.

Kerry Washington just recently said at Sundance that discussing blackness is deemed political because it challenges the notion of a colorblind society. From slavery and segregation to the present day, the voices of black individuals have been systematically silenced, marginalized, and oppressed. This silencing is a result of systemic racism and the ingrained belief that black individuals are inferior and not worthy of being heard. Far too often, discussions about race and blackness are met with dismissals of ‘we are all equal’ or ‘I don’t see color.’ However, this ignores the realities of systemic racism and how black people are still disproportionately affected by it. By acknowledging and discussing blackness, we can reject the myth of a colorblind society and instead work towards actively dismantling systems of oppression. She uses her activism to talk about equity in the entertainment industry and how we can achieve it in Hollywood.

In reality, we need more opportunities for us to get more money. We aren’t going to find pathways in the dark. Too many times, our community is too emotionally battered to stay in the game, to stay in the hurt for us to achieve true freedom and equity. Overseer is still a plantation position many love to fill. Others work as slave catchers, some still trying to work in the house, close to the master, and others are like me, running away, yelling to tell you how to get out, and leaving the gate wide open behind me. Every generation works to open up a little more leeway for the generation coming up behind them. These open conversations help to bring us closer to our collective goal. If white people own the majority of the wealth, then we cannot keep saying skin color has nothing to do with it.

 

 

Tahyira Savanna

About Tahyira Savanna: Tahyira is a lifestyle journalist and writer.  Her interest includes human stories and introspection.  She interviews everyday people doing their part to make our world happier. Follow her on Twitter @TAsterisk and Instagram @iletthegoodtimesroll

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