Some people are really, really disappointed that Blue Ivy looks Black.
The people who wanted Blue Ivy to be their racially ambiguous dream-child have found themselves in the midst of a rude awakening. It appears that they forgot, or perhaps never cared to realize, that Blue Ivy is the child of two Black parents, and that their hopes and dreams of her being the beige child they could obsess over, and project their anti-Blackness onto, have been deferred. For as Blue Ivy grows and develops into the beautiful child that she is, her features have not stayed in the realm of Whiteness that so many of us are comfortable with when it comes to finding Black to be beautiful. Her hair is not the wavy texture that they hoped for. Her nose is not the thin one they hoped for. Her skin is not the beige, off-white, lemon color that they hoped for. Blue Ivy is a Black child with full lips, hair that grows defiantly towards the sky, and skin that is much more chocolate than vanilla.
And this has many people furious.
Perhaps it was inevitable.
Beyonce, for all her strengths and weaknesses, has not always presented an aesthetically Black image to the public. Her light skin and preference for straight blonde hair has, all too often, allowed her to appear as racially ambiguous in the public imagination. She could easily “pass” for a number of races, and no one would probably know the difference, and I think this is playing a part in the way Blue Ivy, her beautiful Black child, is being perceived. It’s as if people expect Blue Ivy to look like a biracial child despite having two Black parents. Some of those who are most frustrated and disappointed with Blue Ivy’s apparent Blackness are fans of Beyonce. It is entirely possible that they latched on to the singer due to her racially ambiguous features that allowed them to project their anti-Blackness onto her. This, however, has not been the case with Blue Ivy. They have grown frustrated with the fact that Blue Ivy’s hair is “not done,” they have lamented that she looks “too much like her dad,” and they have even stated their disappointment in how dark she is. People wanted Blue Ivy to serve as the recipient of their anti-Black desires and she has not turned out to be that for them.
It’s impossible to have a discussion about Blue Ivy being used as a projection of our anti-Blackness without mentioning North West, the daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. So far, North West has “passed” the test. Her hair is wavy enough, her skin is beige enough, and her features are palatable enough to those who are looking for a racially ambiguous dream-child to be recipient of their anti-Black projections. North West, unlike Blue Ivy, is an “appropriate” Black child, at least when it comes to the kind of children we prefer to fawn over in the media. Those commenting on the two children have praised Kim for refining North West’s Blackness by “laying” her hair down, but have decried Beyonce for refusing to “tame” or “do” Blue Ivy’s hair. The implication here being that our hair is something that needs to be controlled rather than being allowed to do its own thing, in its natural state. People have couched their anti-Blackness under “her hair needs to be done,” but anyone paying even a little attention should know what that is code for.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I am one of the few Black people who is not obsessed with beige children. I refuse to revel in the anti-Blackness that privileges lighter skin children with features more closely relating to Whites, or Asians or Native Americans. To quote the great intellectual bell hooks, “I am happy to be nappy,” and I love me some dark chocolate skin. I love all of the beautiful colors we come in, as human beings, from albino to pitch black, but I have to be on guard for the privileging of light skin and the anti-Blackness that has us believe that Black looks better when it is more closely related in skin color to White.
Toni Morrison once said that the most vulnerable person in any society is a Black girl child, and that is apparent with the endless criticism of Blue Ivy. It would be one thing if she were a little boy. She would be allowed to not be “pretty” or “beautiful” in a conventional since, but as a girl she not only has to be the right “color,” with the right features, she also has to be “cute.” Given that her mother is Beyonce, someone who is praised for her beauty and idealized for her racially ambiguity, I expect these criticisms of Blue Ivy to continue as she grows and develops.
In a white supremacist like ours, people are always looking for a place to project and display their anti-Blackness. Some people cannot seem to accept that Blue Ivy, at least, is not going to be the person they can do it on.