This month is “Women’s History Month”, but what exactly is the importance of shedding light on the oppression of women under US/Western imperialism? If we understand the oppression of women as a necessary precondition of patriarchy, racism, and class exploitation inherent in the “Western way of life”, than it is untenable to imagine a world free of sexism without a world free of racism and class exploitation as well. In this period, the US corporate media has mass advertised a mainstream “feminism” that promotes collaboration with the US ruling order. In recent years, the American corporate ruling class has anointed Beyonce into the Black misleadership class and assigned her the leading role to spread this dangerous idea.
In just a little more than a year, Beyonce has become an iconic symbol of corporate feminism. Her 2011 song “run the world (girls)” resonated with many people in this country who have wrongly been taught that women’s liberation is defined by the equal access in running the affairs of the US capitalist system with their male counterparts. Beyonce has been to the White House many times to hang out with the Obama family, scoring numerous photo-ops with the imperial presidency alongside her husband, Jay-Z. Last year, the couple was given a special State Department visa to travel to Cuba at the same time exiled Black revolutionary Assata Shakur had her bounty increased to 2 million dollars by the FBI. Beyonce and Jay-Z gave the Obama Administration political cover for its assault on Black revolutionary politics and its imperialist chess match against Cuba, the economically sanctioned socialist country where Assata Shakur has lived since 1984. This debacle was a clear signal that artists like Beyonce are not only co-signers of white imperialist objectives, but also active participants in them as well.
Beyonce is currently building a “feminist” initiative with Condelezza Rice called the #banbossy campaign. The premise of this campaign is to raise awareness about the impact of the word “bossy” when used to “bully” women vying for positions of power. Yet Beyonce is collaborating with a former Bush Administration bully in Rice, a war criminal responsible for the deaths of millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. Rice was complicit, as was her Black misleader counterpart Colin Powel, in lying to the world about the connection of Iraq and Afghanistan to 9-11. This moment in history paved the way for a massive erosion of civil liberties in the US and a new pretext for unchecked and permanent imperialist intervention, code-named “the War on Terror.” Anyone concerned with the liberation of women could not possibly work with someone who by any literal sense of the word is an international “bully” in the worst sense and a perpetrator of the most horrific forms of “bossy” behavior.
Beyonce ultimately cares little about Condeleezza Rice’s or Barack Obama’s record as war criminals for the same reason Alicia Keys disregarded the plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s colonial apartheid regime when she performed in Israel last year. The Black misleadership class is only interested in its own status and wealth acquired from the imperialist ruling class. The question of women’s liberation and feminism is nothing more than an opportunity for Beyonce to collect money and political clout so she can remain in the public eye once the corporate media no longer has use for her. She is not concerned with the fact that Black women suffer most from homelessness, unemployment, sexual violence, and imprisonment. To keep herself relevant to the corporate media establishment, Beyonce ignores the pressing issues facing women of color while defacing the self-image of young Black women by bleaching her skin white and dying her hair blonde to appease the corporate media’s erasure of Black female existence.
What is truly unfortunate is that Beyonce and Condeleezza’s campaign to #banbossy will receive more attention than revolutionary leaders such as Assata Shakur, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Claudia Jones, and Harriet Tubman. These are just a few of the many women who led revolutionary movements to end slavery, racism, patriarchy, and the capitalist system that requires each to thrive. Our task today is to fight to keep the memory of heroic, revolutionary women alive and struggle to develop an organizational basis for women’s libration that fights back against their erasure from historical memory. This would go a long way in rejecting Beyonce’s brand of corporate feminism.
Before being assassinated by a covert, French imperial coup, President Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso said that:
the revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution.” Beyonce has no interest in a revolutionary movement to overturn imperialism and institute a new political economy that meets the human needs of women in general and Black women in particular. Her brand of feminism is one that promotes the privilege of black misleaders like her have a seat at the table of US imperialist affairs. Our goal must be to take over the table and unseat all of its rulers and collaborators.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area. You can contact Danny at: [email protected]