A Seat at the Table was definitely one of my highlights of 2016.
Solange beautifully, thoughtfully and gracefully articulated many of the feelings black women have been discussing with friends and family members for decades.
She gave us a global voice and she made us feel heard.
She made us feel as though our voices and our experiences mattered.
She provided us with a universal response to all the people who feel entitled to touch our hair and who tell us we’re too sensitive, that racism doesn’t exist and that the daily microaggressions we deal with are in our imagination.
More importantly, she did not water it down.
She did not police her words to be more acceptable or palatable. She did not create something that could be understood and embraced by everyone. She made something for us, by us.
Long before A Seat At The Table, I admired Solange.
The way she is unapologetically herself, especially when her older sister is one of the most famous women on the planet.
She has managed to remain true to herself and create a successful career completely independent of her sister’s fame.
And in my mind, A Seat at the Table has truly established her as one of the great RnB female artists alongside women like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill.
Solange is honest, authentic and stands in her truth; speaking up even if doing so is scary and likely to be received in a negative way.
She is one of the few celebrities I feel I can relate to and continues to be an inspiration to me.
I hope that one day I’m able to live as boldly and confidently as she does.
The following quotes by Solange reflect the many reasons why I find her so inspiring.
Quotes by Solange on self-care…
“Self-love is really a foundation for everything, and however you practice or express that is so, so important.”
“When you take care of yourself, you’re a better person for others. When you feel good about yourself, you treat others better.”
“Even in the midst of this last week with the multiple murders of young black men that occurred, I chose this time not to watch. Just for the sake of being able to exist in that day, to exist without rage, and exist without heartbreak.”
Quotes by Solange on hair and beauty…
“I think many people, especially from other cultures, just don’t understand the role hair plays in black women’s lives.”
“I felt like when I took my weave out, I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t noticeable.”
“I would say it’s going to be a journey and you have to be 100 percent ready. I think many people are coming into it thinking it’s going to be easy and it’s going to be healthier. Just because you’re natural doesn’t mean you’ll be able to wash, shake and go. It’s a lot of work. If it’s something you truly feel strongly about and it’s going to represent you in lifestyle, hair care and health, then it’s a worthwhile journey to take.” [Response to question: “What advice would you give someone who wants to go natural?”]
“We all have the option of how we want to express ourselves through our life, hair, style or whatever we decide. We shouldn’t be pigeonholed into any one category”
“I want to have the freedom to wear a long weave down to my ass tomorrow if I want to, and then wear it in crocheted braids, and then have it so straight that my edges are laid.”
“My beauty ethos? Well, I’d love to tell you it’s something like ‘less is more,’ but honestly, it all starts with happiness. If only someone could bottle that up – when I’m happy, I’m at my most radiant and glowing. It does me better than any product ever could. And I stand by how cheesy and clichéd that sounds.”
Quotes by Solange on being true to yourself…
“I always knew that being 100% wholeheartedly me was going to pay off.”
“For the first time in my life, I’m basing every decision around the idea of whether I want to do it or if I think it will be inspiring. And that’s paid off for me.”
“It would be so much easier for me to put on a little black dress, straighten my hair, and sing about dancing in the club, but it’s not my job to prove anything. I’m here to make music, to inspire myself. I’m not selling my likability, I’m sharing my journeys. If you don’t like it, believe it’s real, or understand it…then keep my name out of your mouth.”
“I didn’t have the confidence I have now during my teenage years. I had all of these wild ideas that I spent a lot of time trying to convey and convince myself of. But over time you evolve and become really, really comfortable with who you are. Don’t apologize for it! Stand firm and stay consistent. It’s okay to be versatile and play around, but make sure you really clue into what you’re good at. If you there’s something you have a strength in, hold tight to it.”
“There’s no way to succeed without having a team and all of the moving parts that help bring it into life. But I do have—and I’m unafraid to say it—a very distinctive, clear vision of how I want to present myself and my body and my voice and my perspective. And who better to really tell that story than yourself?”
“Some of my favorite artists have had those moments where they may have lost some folks along the way. I think about Lauryn’s Unplugged album and how many people must have stepped back — not must have, they did — when she existed in her truth, because maybe they couldn’t relate, or it felt too heavy. And I think about Nina Simone and that being the thread in her career, and her having to lose some people along the way… I felt so much solace in knowing that it’s okay if everyone doesn’t come along for the journey at every point. And it’s unrealistic to expect people to.”
Quotes by Solange on being black…
“When things become heavy and weary, as they are now, we forget to dream. We’re trying to make it every single day. We’re trying to pick ourselves back off the floor and put one foot in front of another, and we don’t have the time and the energy to do that. I just thank my parents so much for everything they went through so that Julez and Blue are a step closer to not having to endure that. I also want people to listen to the record and say, sorry mom, but, “fuck that!” With the state of our country and all of the messages that we are constantly being fed about not being good enough, not being beautiful enough, not being smart enough, not having the economic power enough, and constantly being told that we’re not enough, I wanted this to literally be an hour long PSA that we are beyond enough. That we have always been and we are not asking for your permission. We are building our own. We are creating the opportunities and communities that we want to see.”
“The album ends with Master P saying that we are the chosen ones. That shouldn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable because, for us, as a people to literally go through the journey that we have, endured what we have, and to be where we are right now, we have had to be chosen in a sense.”
“I think that when you’re a black girl and you grow up you internalize all these messages. Everywhere you look that tell you that you shouldn’t accept your hair, or your natural features, or that you shouldn’t have a voice, or that you aren’t smart. In terms of my evolution I think those internalized messages built up in my mind until I was given the tools to recognize the situation. And understand that no, there’s nothing wrong with me, these are just that these are just messages that we’re fed. I feel like the best way to deal with that has been just to be myself and connect with all these other black girls who are awakening and realizing that they’ve been trying to conform; and the only way to fight that is to be themselves on the most genuine level.”
“Watch us walk, watch us move, watch us overcome, listen to our voices, the sway. The resilience. The innovation. The raw, unfiltered and untouched soul we have can not be touched.” [Response to question: “Why are you proud to be black?”]
“It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control.”
“I don’t think everyone needs to be out here with pickets and signs and protesting; maybe their form of that is going into their office every day and standing firm as a person of color. We just have to be sensitive to each other and not criticize people as much as we do because their truth isn’t our truth, or they aren’t in the same place on the journey as we are — that’s kind of irresponsible.”
Quotes by Solange on life…
“One thing that I do know is that life is way too short to not reach your highest potential because of what you fear.”
“I’m a strong believer that in order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you came from.”
“When you dedicate yourself to anything, there’s going to be those times when you second-guess yourself really strongly.”
“I always knew what I wanted… I remember being really young and having this voice inside that told me to trust my gut. And my gut has been really, really strong in my life. It’s pretty vocal and it leads me. Sometimes I haven’t listened, and those times didn’t end up very well for me.”
“I think one of the things I’m most proud of in myself is that I’m okay to fail in front of the world; I’m okay to make mistakes and get back up and try again.”
“don’t eveeer let anyone write your story for you. They can talk, they can doubt, and they can say what they wanna, but only you have the words to narrate this ting we call life.”
“take your time, baby girl. there’s no rush to get there… you don’t have to figure everything out now. time will reveal itself.”
There are so many gems here. I hope you find something that inspires, empowers and lifts your spirits.
Which quote most resonates with you?
Gif Credit: GIPHY