The implications of Bey’s baby bump


That’s right y’all–Beyonce and Jay Z are having a baby. My first thought, upon hearing the news, is that this kid is going to be a) ridiculously cute and b) ridiculously enterprising. Then my mind started wandering down the lane of cultural implications…

Janelle Harris had an interesting take over at Clutch:

Even as Bey stood there drenched in her typical brand of flawless gorgeousness, cupping her cute little baby bump beneath a flowy Lanvin gown, something bigger than her obvious joy was in the works. Another Black couple is making marriage stylish, cool, obviously happy, and now they’re having a baby. Even as the brouhaha from the Will and Jada divorce dust-up tentatively settles, Beyonce and Jay-Z and Lala and Carmelo are making jumping the broom and raising babies palatable to a generation that has grown up listening to their choice of baby mama anthems while using “baby daddy” as a term of endearment.

I see Harris’ point. It’s hard to become what one hasn’t seen, and I’d say all of us–including young Black kids–are in need of healthy role models for lifelong commitment and interdependent families. For those of us interested in monogamy, partnership, and even marriage, it can sometimes feel like the field of icons is pretty lacking, particularly if you layer race and class into the mix. (It’s interesting, by the way, that Harris doesn’t mention the Obamas in this new black fairy tale of “jumping the broom” and “raising babies.”)

On the other hand, I’m not sure Beyonce and Jay Z’s apparently happy marriage and burgeoning family (I say “apparently” because no one can be sure what the inside of their partnership really feels like or how it functions) is really a viable model for almost any of us. Their class privilege is bananas, for starters. Many of the money fights that tear couples apart, especially right now, simply won’t be part of the equation for these two super successful performers. They can afford whatever kind of assistance they need in terms of childcare, the best schools and health care this country has to offer, and, because of their clout positions, take time off without fearing reprisal at work. That’s a vastly different scenario than the one that the parents of the 1 million Black kids currently living in extreme poverty deal with on a daily basis.

This isn’t to suggest that they won’t have their own battles (can you imagine bringing a baby into the shit show that is that much fame combined?), or that their iconic marriage isn’t going to serve as inspiration for Black Americans who aspire to get married and have kids. It’s just a reminder not to overlook the ways in which their marriage has all kinds of support that the majority of Black Americans–among whom the unemployment rate is currently at 16.2 percent–simply don’t have. Economic strain is hard on marriages and families, no matter how loving or fabulous the couple.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted August 29, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Along the same lines was the oft-uttered “Obama Effect”. Now that we have a black president, surely many of the problems inherent in the black community will soon become a thing of the past.

    Not exactly.

  2. Posted August 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    The interesting thing about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s lives were their very contrasting class backgrounds as African Americans. Beyonce had two professional parents and grew up in suburban, middle class Houston. Jay-Z grew up in a single parent household in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (Notorious BIG’s same hood) and embraced the street culture growing up. However, Jay-Z’s life inspired his successful brand of hip hop, and he later rose up to be a record label executive. I don’t know why you didn’t point out how Jay-Z grew up like so many African-American kids.

  3. Posted September 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    That’s great that they are happily married and expecting a baby BUT shouldn’t we wait more than *2 YRS* and not even a pregnancy behind them before we proclaim them successful, an inspiration and an example for young black men and women? (Talk about counting your chickens before they hatch!)

    Michelle and Barack are a much better example of a marriage that’s made it, they’ve been married almost 20 yrs but I guess the president being black and successfully married just doesn’t hold the same weight as JayZ and Bey.

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