Solange’s 'A Seat At The Table' promotes empowerment, challenges whiteness

Solange reminds me to find glory in myself. She reminds me to continue being present in spaces where my body, as a person of color, is not welcomed.

A Seat at the Table gives us power. “Mad” is a loud validation. “I got a lot to be mad about,” Lil’ Wayne raps on a heavy bass beat, about the real frustration of people of color. “Why you always talkin’ shit, always be complaining,” Solange sings as she gives us light on the endless counterarguments we continue to face today. “Man, this shit is draining,” Solange carries with a worried flow and a haunting fact. The repetition of racism against people of color in America is both the bullet and the trigger; the target changes according to “police training,” on the right day. Solange lives in her own interpretation of what it means to be a woman of color and an artist; she finds her balance in accepting and appreciating her blackness.

History wears itself like wounds. History teaches us lessons and shifts conversations. History makes us uncomfortable and it doesn’t allow us to forget no matter how hard someone will try. A Seat at the Table works its way into American History, outside and inside of the classroom, The album frontlines the importance of black and brown bodies, this time for different purposes. “Don’t Touch My Hair,” manifests a fashion and political affirmation to respect the black woman. The song addresses the issue of being verbally and physically attacked in predominantly white spaces. “Don’t touch my hair, When it’s the feelings I wear/Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm I know,” Solange sings, setting the limit on where and how much it will take to compromise integrity over approachability.

Profit over people is the elephant in the room, the topic at the dinner table when the holidays come around. It’s the parent-to-child conversation that plays through A Seat At The Table like our own, when the odds aren’t in our favor. Solange gives us reassurance that people of color, in our presence and impact, academically or artistically, ultimately will succeed in the face of racism, discrimination, or exclusion. “F.U.B.U.” is a global and self-affirming black anthem. As a song of empowerment and acknowledgement of black men and women, the lyrics highlight F.U.B.U., the clothing brand, and its impact on the world. It presents blackness in any space.

A Seat At The Table is what a history book would look like on tape. It takes me back to the moments of deciding whether to challenge the white kid in my class who can’t decide between his passive privilege or acknowledging the fact that he benefits from it. The album makes me think about the last white man who called me a “spic” because he couldn’t handle what it meant to know something other than his anger. If all that history has taught is how the White Man succeeds for himself, Solange teaches how history will work against me if I do not look for myself in it.

The album challenges the validity of whiteness and its impact on society. It gives way for the black voice to be heard, without interruption or disapproval. It creates dialogue in spaces that do not allow or welcome blackness. The truth is found throughout A Seat At The Table, in separate stages of Solange’s own history. Solange has created a platform for expression and reflection on what it means to be black in America.

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