Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins

historian | sociologist | social epidemiologist

Vice-Provost Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania

Texas B Was Talking to You!

Texas B Was Talking To You

As the city sidewalk narrowed, she looked me dead in the face and gave me an unmistakable smile but she never slowed down. Just as the savory scent passed me, she gently and lovingly says, “Hey, Bae!” I turned all the way around and started taking my phone out because she confirmed her delicate nod of affirmation with those sweet words. I begin my baritone articulation of her beauty and she cuts me off, “My day is going great so far and I’m almost back at the office.”  She was on the phone! Bluetooth captured another victim. I looked around to make sure no one else knew that my “cool points” had insufficient funds.

She wasn’t talking to me! She looked right at me but she wasn’t talking to me! As matter of fact, she actually provided every non-verbal cue of my presence but she wasn’t talking to me! Similarly, Beyoncé had her Bluetooth in during the Superbowl and while was she cordial with a lot of White people, she wasn’t talking to them. The days since her riveting Superbowl performance have forced many to focus on the masses that were on the other end her protested hotline, but I want to focus on the message.

Black feminist jostled with many who objected to her performance because it seemed that her heavy-handed critics felt she shouldn’t have brought up a dark discussion in front of company. Some race scholars and connoisseurs finally got the conscience high-five from a woman who presumably was checked absent during the debates about whose lives matter. I wholeheartedly loved her performance as well as the video. Beyoncé is using her voice to redirect the corporate eye to Blackness. I read critique after critique and saw nothing short of amazing perspectives but I saw the tale of two different narratives.

Beyoncé went out of her way to let us know she’s still the same. Even when she’s rocking that dress while getting out of the chopper she pulls that hot sauce out of her bag. The money couldn’t take her voice, but so many Black people did! You ran her away when she wanted to support Trayvon. You made her baby’s hair a meme. You dismissed her success as a consequence of her Mama’s creole skin and a sacrificial illuminati gift. Maybe she was talking to you and waving a Black Lives Matter flag at the White folks at the same time. Let’s look at the words: “Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay / Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay / Slay trick, or you get eliminated.”

Both times she talks about getting “eliminated” you see cuts to an underwater New Orleans police car and a young boy adorning a hoodie with his hands up before a militarized police. At that moment, you realize we are dealing with some real shit. Not “why she with Jay-Z” or “will somebody comb Blue Ivy’s hair,” she is saying if you don’t “slay” we will get eliminated! She went further though. She didn’t simply say “do your thing,” she said, “Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay / prove to me you got some coordination.”

I’ve said that the video didn’t match the lyrics and too many of my colleagues scoffed at such a statement. The video, ironically, is for the White folks to know we are coming. The lyrics tell Black people to stop coming for her! I didn’t see it at first. The more I watch how the lyrics and video intertwine, the more I see her multitasking with that damn Bluetooth! Beyoncé used the Superbowl to talk to us; I just hope we were listening.


Dr. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins | 2019