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19 March 2014 Written by  Grace Boateng

Empowering Women Who Empower Us All: Beyoncé

Beyoncé a.k.a. “Heeey Mrs. Carter” was born Beyoncé Giselle Knowles on September 4, 1981 in Houston, Texas. She first made her mark as an integral part of the girl group Destiny’s Child that was formed in 1995. Under the direction and tutelage of her father Mathew Knowles, Destiny’s Child experienced tremendous success.  In 2004 Beyoncé launched a solo career with her first album ‘Dangerously in Love’ that gave us songs like ‘Bonnie & Clyde’, ‘Baby Boy’, and ‘Me, Myself and I’. For me, this is where her story begins. In addition to ‘Dangerously in Love’ Beyoncé has released 5 studio albums including ‘B’Day’, ‘I Am... Sasha Fierce’, ‘4’, and most recently her record breaking album ‘Beyoncé’. In the midst of her working as a musician, which means world tours and all that goes into that, Beyoncé tapped into other interests like acting. To date, she has appeared in several films and received countless credits for her music that can be heard in a number of productions.

Now that I’ve scratched the surface of all of her recognizable accomplishments, I’d like to spend a moment reflecting on how much of an impact Beyoncé has made globally. Let’s not forget that she is a mother, a savvy businesswoman, and easily one of the hardest working entertainers in music history. In addition beyonce grammysto that there is a long and varied list of charities that she supports. Most recently she joined the Lean In organization and Girl Scouts of the USA in the fight of banning the term “bossy” as a way to encourage leadership among young women.  In my opinion this is what it’s about. People should use their celebrity as a platform to do something great. What’s greater than showing young women that you can do anything you want to do? Not in spite of being a woman, but because you are a woman.

In 2008 Beyoncé founded Parkwood Entertainment which is an entertainment and management company. In an effort to inspire girls to play music, Beyoncé has famously performs with a 10-piece all woman band.

After her latest album dropped, a firestorm of praise and criticism came about due to the sexual innuendos and adult content. Beyoncé is a proud, married, 32 year old grown woman that is comfortable in her own skin. Yet critics argue, “What about the children? What will they do or say as they worship Beyoncé?” Well...last time I checked, Beyoncé has one child so her parenting responsibilities end there. There is an equal amount of praise from women who feel liberated in seeing Beyoncé talk freely about the things she is experiencing at this point in her life.

I personally like Beyoncé’s music. She has gotten me through a lot of workouts. Do I agree with everything she says or does? Of course not. But that is the beauty of individuality. I’m not a big fan of anyone referring to anybody as a female dog...if you catch my drift. It’s unnecessary, it’s degrading and I was less than thrilled when I heard that term being thrown around during her song “Flawless.” This is a song that uses an excerpt from activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous TED Talk about feminism. Contradiction much? I’m not holding it against Beyoncé, we don’t always get it right on the first try.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how hard she works and all of the good she does? The way kids light up when she joins them dancing during a ‘Let’s Move’ event to encourage fitness. The way she will take a moment to sing happy birthday to someone in the audience or spend time with/sing to a fan with a terminal disease.

As one of the most scrutinized artists of our time Beyoncé is now being studied as a course at Rutgers University. A course designed to get students to think critically about media consumption while exploring race, gender, and sexual politics. No matter how you feel about her music, her clothing, her lyrics or even her weave what is undeniable is that she has become the catalyst for many important conversations. Beyoncé continues to shine a light on the myth of gender equality and do her part in closing that gap. That is a cause everyone should get behind.