OPINION: Beyoncé’s new song is a song about the revolutionary act of Black, brown and trans people loving themselves.
Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Well, I might as well write about Beyoncé’s Renaissance because that’s all I’m listening to these days. But I want to break it down into bite-sized pieces because I think a lot of these songs are powerful enough to merit it. Beyoncé has developed a way of talking about political ideas without making them seem polemical. First, let me tackle “Cozy,” the second song, the deep house groove that could rock a dance floor while speaking to much deeper ideas about Blackness.
For me, “Cozy” summons up the memory of one of my least favorite people: former President George W. Bush. Back in 2000, when Bush was the governor of Texas and running for president, his team came up with a phrase to describe him—they said he was “comfortable in his own skin.” The phrase surely existed long before 2000, but that’s when it became famous—soon, everyone was saying it. It was meant to say Bush was at peace with himself as opposed to his opponent, Vice President Al Gore, who seemed awkward by contrast.
But for me, Bush being comfortable in his own skin was about his immense white privilege. Bush was the family screwup, a man who failed upward over and over in his life and spoke English like he was still learning it. But he was comfortable with himself, perhaps because he knew that no matter how mediocre he was, things would just work out for him. It’s easy to be comfortable in white skin when you know that it’s the complexion with the protection, to sample Paul Mooney. Something that’s far more complex is being comfortable in Black skin.
On “Cozy,” Beyoncé sings “comfortable in my skin” over and over. For a Black woman to own that phrase gives it an entirely different meaning than when a white man who was born rich wears it. In a world of white supremacy, where whiteness and white features are prized, it’s a victory for a Black person to know true self-love. Beyoncé’s use of the phrase feels empowering and liberating. And when she samples the voice of a Black trans woman, Ts Madison, who says, “I’m dark brown, dark skin, light skin, beige, fluorescent beige,” from a clip from her famous YouTube speech “Bitch I’m Black.” Then we have “comfortable in my skin” extending to reach the entire rainbow of Black people and also to women and also to our trans sisters and brothers, too. Beyoncé hath claimed the phrase from the dauphin and given it to the people. All while keeping us dancing.
In the song, she says, “Kiss my scars because I love what they made,” which sounds like another way of saying she accepts the flaws of her body and has embraced her past and her trauma because they make her who she is. She sings, “I love me,” and it doesn’t sound egotistical because you know she’s sending that self-love to us. And this message of self-love fits the theme of this dance album filled with beats that recall the disco clubs of the ’70s because disco was all about empowering listeners and making people feel good about themselves and imbuing marginalized people with self-love.
To be Black or female or trans and also deeply in love with your body is a revolutionary act. Marginalized people live in a world of messages striking us down. When we can cut through that noise and believe in our beauty, it’s a strike against white supremacy, and it’s a beautiful step toward spiritual liberation.
“Cozy” is deep.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U. Look out for his upcoming podcast Being Black In the 80s.
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