The Holy Trinity Explained

If the internet is good for nothing else, it can be relied upon for it’s witty references and smart euphemisms. So if you’re a regular on Tumblr, then you’ve seen Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj referenced collectively as the Holy Trinity of contemporary Black women artists/performers. According to the Bible, the Holy Trinity comprises the three carnations of God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And while Tumblr has appropriated this concept and applied it to the trio and their collective greatness, there hasn’t been much exploration of the specific roles that Bey, Nicki, and RiRi fill under such an umbrella. As a Black girl feminist trained to envision freedom as personal, political, and yes, spiritual, this is a rabbit hole I’m more than willing to venture into.

Before I provide my own personal take on these baddies as three parts of a unified celestial power, let me first define the “theology” that I understand this particular Holy Trinity to be embodying. Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj have all been noted for being unapologetically Black and female in their artistry and ethic. They have all received (sometimes contested) nods as modern feminists. The Carefree Black Girl (Rihanna), the One Woman Powerhouse (Beyoncé), and the Renegade Artist (Nicki Minaj) are music industry mediums pushing “the Word” of Black Girl Liberation. Accepting them, and their message into your life means releasing that oppressive expectations and restrictions on the agency, legacy, bodies, and lives of Black girls and women in mainstream media.

The Father, Beyoncé: Adversaries of the Beyhive often sarcastically remark that Beyoncé fans worship her in a fashion similar to the way Christians praise God. This comparison has not been lost on me as someone attempting to define her role within the Holy Trinity. Beyoncé is the Alpha and the Omega when it comes to contemporary Black women performers breaking barriers and doing it on their own terms. Speaking from a purely genealogical standpoint, Beyoncé set a standard of Black girl excellence in music that allowed for the careers of Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. Beyoncé’s mega stardom, combined with her intentional personal ambiguity leave her contributions unquestioned and almost mythical. She is omnipresent, appearing via reference and/or association even when we can’t physically see or hear her. She is a concept, a feeling, a force of energy that many of us attempt to revel in on a regular basis. And her performances? Miracles. Beyoncé is the reason that many of us keep faith in Black girl artists.

The Son, Nicki Minaj: Nicki’s role in the Trinity is ironic given that one of her signature taglines is: “all you bitches is my sons.” But it remains true nevertheless that Nicki Minaj is the god sent messenger. While the power of Black girl freedom has always been among us via Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj is willing to do the dirty work of sharing and recruiting. From her wild costumes, to her alter egos, to her body that is consistently read as excessive, Nicki Minaj has always been willing to go against the grain (especially as a rapper in an industry that has been predefined by a specific masculinity) in order to demonstrate the power of Black Girl brilliance. Minaj’s supporters follow her fully expecting to accompany her to the promised land, to transcend the material limitations on Black women as exhibited in mass media. Her consistent collaborations with Bey lend her a certain amount of credibility that she’s headed in the right direction, but she is not afforded the same protections that respectability lends Beyoncé. Minaj is consistently sacrificed by the industry despite her important message.

The Holy Spirit, Rihanna: Rihanna is the epitome of carefree Black girl, a powerful position to hold in an industry steeped in misogynoir. She is undiscerning and unpredictable in unleashing that power. Where Nicki Minaj will clearly articulate to millions of Twitter followers how Black women are undervalued in white dominated industries, Rihanna will simply rock a doobie wrap to a fancy event that has been neutralized by whiteness. While Beyoncé gracefully rests on the Forbes list, Rihanna yells “bitch better have my money!” If that isn’t a personification of a Black Girl Holy Ghost at work, I’m not sure what is. Rihanna is less concerned with identifying or articulating a certain kind of feminism or alignment with Black women’s deliverance than she is acting in the spirit of said salvation. Rih’s contributions aren’t always physically evident but they always lead us in the right direction. Rihanna represents the ways we can let Black Girl Liberation work through us.

Feministing's resident "sexpert", Sesali is a published writer and professional shit talker. She is a queer Black girl, fat girl, and trainer. She was the former Training Director at the United States Student Association and later a member of the Youth Organizing team at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She received her bachelors in Women's and Gender Studies from Depaul University in 2012 and is currently pursuing a master's in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. A self identified "trap" feminist, and trained with a reproductive justice background, her interests include the intersections of feminism and: pop culture, youth culture, social media, hip hop, girlhood, sexuality, race, gender, and Beyonce. Sesali joined the team in 2010 as one of the winners of our So You Think You Can Blog contest.

is Feministing's resident sexpert and cynic.

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