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Is Beyoncé Appropriating African Culture In Her ‘Black is King’ Project?

Is Beyoncé Appropriating African Culture In Her ‘Black is King’ Project?

Africa as a continent is known as the backdrop of many modern civilizations and the motherland to Black people all over the world. Beyoncé recently released the trailer of her visual album, ‘Black is King’, which has received varied reactions from African Americans and Africans alike––especially those who live in Africa. The question being, is Queen B appropriating African culture?

Here’s some of what is being said about Beyoncé and her use of African culture…

Africa is diverse

This was one of the arguments brought forward by many who were criticizing Beyoncé’s use of the ‘African’ aesthetic in her performances, song lyrics, and music videos. Africa currently has 54 countries with over 500 distinct ethnicities and cultures and as many shades of melanin. For the most part, mainstream media tends to refer to Africa as a country or worse, a small village. Beyoncé News Song.

Some social media users are unhappy that Queen B seems to be reinforcing this rhetoric. They even called it Wakandafication and Wakanda nonsense referring to the portrayal of Wakanda in the popular Marvel movie, Black Panther.

Commercializing Africanism

For a number of others, this is the issue; taking the diverse cultures present in Africa and putting them together in a way that is beautiful enough to be sold in a project. For those who are on this side of the court, the bone of contention is not that African culture isn’t beautiful but it’s that this beauty is often only identified when it is time to sell a new project. More infuriating for these people is the fact that this project which premieres on Disney+ July 31, is not available in Africa. Beyoncé News Song.


Africa is not her target audience

Among a good number of African Americans, there is the argument that Africa is not among her target audience. To them, these stories are relevant as African Americans continue to trace their way back to their roots and that all of Africa is a part of their roots seeing that many of them cannot specifically trace their ancestral ties to a family, a village, a town or even a country. Beyoncé Black Is King.

Beyoncé was recently awarded the BET Humanitarian Award for her contribution to the expression of black excellence, her aid of black communities in need, and numerous communities in Africa through her Bey Good Initiative. She is one of those celebrities whose activism permeates every area of her life, from her art to putting her money where her mouth is––so it’s no surprise that Beyoncé does have a strong force, in the form of the BeyHive, which defends her every move. Beyoncé News Song.

Beyoncé has not responded to the current conversation surrounding her use of African culture which is not surprising as the Queen has always been less talk; more action. However, we cannot deny this question is an important one for not just Beyoncé but for all of Black Hollywood and others in Hollywood [think Lion King and the likes] to answer. Are you reconnecting to your roots or are you just appropriating African culture?

Cover photo credit: Instagram – beyonce

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