My idol and worldwide superstar Beyoncé has done two astonishing things lately: Release a complete album without any promotion or advance notice, and sample Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Adiche is the author of the acclaimed 2013 novel “Americanah,” a smart and surprisingly funny take on race and gender in contemporary society. In 2008, she was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, after the publication of “Half a Yellow Sun,” a historical novel set during Nigeria’s bloody Biafran war.
Adichie appears on Beyoncé’s track “Flawless.” She isn’t in the short video sample of the song that’s online. The video is of the third verse, while Adichie’s sample makes up most of the second. The sample is from a talk Adichie gave at TEDxEuston in London earlier this year titled, “We Should All Be Feminists.” During the speech, she argues that differing expectations of men and women damage economic and social prospects in Nigeria, and more generally around Africa and the world.
Beyoncé has been particularly inspired by sections where Adichie explores attitudes towards marriage, sampling a passage where the novelist talks directly about aspirations. What appears in “Flawless” pulls from different parts of her speech:
“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. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support, but why do we teach to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to 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: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”
I personally find it so powerful, and since hearing this song I have read Adichie’s full speech. She is such an inspirational and thought-provoking woman and I’m so pleased that Beyoncé has chosen to use her worldwide influence to target and raise awareness of this. We need to constantly fight the boundaries to have equality of the sexes worldwide!
Also, reading about this topic has got me more excited to finally be seeing Beyoncé live at the end of February with my boyfriend. Can’t wait! 🙂