Now the professor is bringing her expertise to a book: Beyoncé in Formation: Remixing Black Feminism.
Slated for publication in the fall, Beyoncé in Formation draws cultural analysis from the singer’s iconic single “Lemonade.” Woven with candid observations about her life, Tinsley’s “Femme-onade” mixtape explores myriad facets of black women’s sexuality and gender. She analyzes Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself” through the lens of black feminist critiques, “Daddy Lessons” through models of motherhood, and finally “Formation” through its groundbreaking take on gender and sexuality. Activists and artists (including Loretta Lynn) contribute to Tinsley’s book, infusing it with fascinating interpretations of Queen Bey’s provocative, peerless imagery and lyrics.
“Every year, lines of black women and queers approach me on the first day to express excitement that they’re in a class that takes Beyoncé seriously — that someone is reflecting back that the lyrics they sing, the songs they dance to, their shirts that proclaim ‘I Slay’ just might be the meaningful sources of empowerment they always felt them to be,” Tinsley tells EW. “Greeting this receiving line of feminist Beyoncé fans, I see clearly: I’m one of thousands of black people living in the South looking to Beyoncé as a gilded mirror, an artist with the capacity to bounce light off our visions for next-millennium feminism. … This small offering is made in the hope that what starts in our black woman-loving, lemonade-making, hater-twirling Texas can change the world.”
Tinsley has exclusively shared the vibrant cover for Beyoncé in Formation with EW, as well as a brief excerpt. Read on below, and pre-order the book ahead of its Nov. 1 release here.
Excerpt from Beyoncé in Formation, by Omise’eke Natasha Tinsley
The night Beyoncé stood up in front of a brightly lit sign that declared her a FEMINIST at the 2014 VMAs was transformational not only for Mock but for millions of black women. You could say Beyoncé’s feminist self-declaration broke the internet—but you could also say the internet was temporarily fixed. Because for twenty years before that performance, the words most often associated with feminist were militant, radical, man-hating. But for two days after, the word most associated with feminist online was Beyoncé. This means a generation of young women are growing up with something we’ve never seen before: an image of feminism that’s overwhelmingly popular and undeniably black. And that’s something all feminists should pay attention to. Janell Hobson rightly asks: “What, specifically, does this moment in popular culture mean for a younger generation of women who have been raised to be suspicious of feminism?” Obviously, Beyoncé’s popularization of the term feminist is in no way, shape, or form a solid enough foundation to build a next generation of black feminism on. Holding out feminism as something accessible for black women—a tool that can serve us, a light that can spark fires—is a beginning, not an end. Beyoncé has offered this word to a generation of black women and girls to claim, rework, and rethink in ways that work for us. This is the charge I give students on the first day of [my class] Beyoncé Feminism, and this is the charge I take on in this book: to use Beyoncé’s music as a starting point to think through personal and political issues that matter in our lives as twenty-first-century black feminists.