Yesterday, The New School in New York City hosted a provocative discussion, titled "Are You Still a Slave?," with bell hooks (née Gloria Watkins), author and activist Janet Mock, filmmaker Shola Lynch and author Marci Blackman. Interestingly, Beyoncé became a hot topic during the discussion.
When the conversation shifted to Beyoncé's controversial Time magazine cover, Ms. hooks took the pop star to task. "Let's take the image of this super rich, very powerful Black female and let's use it in the service of imperialist, white supremacist capitalist patriarchy because she probably had very little control over that cover — that image," said hooks.
Janet Mock, author of the New York Times bestseller Redefining Realness, spoke up in Bey's defense, adding that she believed Beyoncé, at this point in her career, had control over the image. "I would argue she chose this image, so I don't want to strip Beyoncé of choosing this image — of being her own manager."
Countered bell, "Then you are saying, from my deconstructive point of view, that she is colluding in the construction of herself as a slave."
The thoughtful and respectful conversation continued with Shola Lynch discussing her daughter being inspired by Angela Davis. Mock added she felt inspired by much of Beyoncé's work, like the song "Partition." Mock explained, "Having 'Partition' come out a couple months before my book came out — when I am writing about sex work and sexual abuse and issues with my body, my sexuality — it was freeing to have Beyoncé owning her body and claiming that space."
Still, hooks held her ground, responding, "I see a part of Beyoncé that is in fact anti-feminist — that is a terrorist, especially in terms of the impact on young girls."
The spirited two-hour conversation covered everything from Leslie Jones' controversial jokes on SNL to Zora Neale Hurston to Audre Lorde. You can watch the video here.
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(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)