There are a number of featured cameos on Beyonce’s new self-titled album, released late last night/this morning — husband Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean, even daughter Blue Ivy. But the most interesting cameo to me, as a feminist, is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who’s TEDx talk is sampled on “Flawless.” At the end of the song — which was originally leaked as “Bow Down” — Adichie says:
We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller / We say to girls – you can have ambition, but not too much/ You should aim to be successful but not too successful otherwise you will threaten the man / Because I am female I am expected to aspire to marriage / I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important / A marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support / But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? / We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or for accomplishments / Which I think can be a good thing / But for the attention of men / We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are / Feminist: A person who believes in the economic, social and political equality of the sexes.
Preach. So who is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Let’s learn more…
1. As I mentioned, the sample Beyonce used on “Flawless” is from Adichie’s TEDx talk earlier this year called “We Should All Be Feminists.” You can watch the full talk below and I recommend you do because it’s amazing.
3. She is also the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun, as well as a book of short stories called The Thing Around Your Neck.
4. Adichie gave her first TED talk, called “The Danger of a Single Story,” in 2009, described on the site thusly: “Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.” Watch it here.