black women, kweens of kitsch — why beyonce did NOT take back tacky [because it is something she already owned]
“Beyoncé just took back tacky”

That was the line that got me in the refinery 29 article I just read about the Queen B’s just released album of maternity photos. The album graced my twitter timeline early this morning, courtesy of BEYONCE LEGION (@Bey_Legion) and friends. Immediately I was in love. My comment on one was, to paraphrase, “Ooh this is kitschy as fuck, I love it though.” The article waxed on and on about the garishness of the photos, the whys and hows of the art of tackiness — listen honey. Beyonce is from Houston. Beyonce is Black. She was born this way.

Black women are the queens of kitsch. We are the queens of “budget-friendly,” of thrifting (before it was cool), of making it work, of drugstore makeup looks and acrylic talons encrusted with the finest zirconia or cheetah stripes or our baby’s initials, lacquered to pristine perfection, squared off or filed to a murderous point. We are the queens of angled bobs, of luscious weaves, the Halle Berry before it was the Halle Berry, bomber jackets and doorknocker earrings, headwraps from the beauty supply that recall our ancestors past and present. You might consider Ghanaian hand-printed fabric garish. Nah, that’s black woman kitsch. Clashing patterns a la Solange. Twenty-eight blankets in one household, draped, hung on walls, folded, hanging on the arms of the sofa. That’s Mickalene Thomas lavish. We invented kitsch, we invented glitter. We invented “tacky,” we are the originators of poor extravagance.

Beyonce ain’t take back shit. How you reclaim what you already own? Beyonce is part of a black cultural dynasty, a lineage of poverty and broken promises and living to get by. We ratchet, we hood, we fabulous. We pluck creativity from our mother’s gardens, we build on it, we fertilize, we create, and everyone else waits to see what we’re growing — then they Columbus it.

  • *This is a (mostly) tongue in cheek response. Do not presume to explain the meaning of kitsch to me, I am an art student :)

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