Polly Irungu

Why Solange Is My Unapolagetic Best Friend in My Head – by Polly Irungu

Solange gave life to everything that we didn’t know we needed.

In 2013, the acquittal of the thug George Zimmerman in his unjustified murder of Trayvon Martin, sparked protests across the nation, it is how three Black women birthed the hashtag turned movement, Black Lives Matter, and it is what propelled Solange to start creating this album of healing and celebration for the African American community.

If, like me, you’re feeling spread thin, weary and in desperate need of a recharge.

As an African woman in America — especially one who lives in Oregon, where the black population is less than 5 percent — I have often felt isolated, timid to speak up and confused about my identity. As I turned on the TV, I could hardly see any diversity in media, when I did, it portrayed a single story, one experience that it suggests is shared by all.

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Media representation often feeds us broad and stereotypical ideas about gender, sex, race, class, ability, etc. Music, TV and film are notorious for this, giving us romanticized examples of abusive relationships, incorrect notions about how things work, and generally include people from minoritized groups only to reinforce stereotypes or to defy them as an “inspiration”.

Music and TV is starting to branch out somewhat from these age-old issues with representation, largely due to creators and artists like Quinta B., Issa Rae, Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover, Beyonce, J. Cole, and Aziz Ansari. Like all of these people, Solange is using her platform, voice and talent to change the narrative.

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“A Seat At The Table” purposefully evokes emotion in the listener. It is meant to charge the listener with the ability to express and carry out the functions of whatever emotion is already naturally in them. Be it anger, sadness, joy, pride, confidence, pain, deceit etc. Solange’s album amplifies this and encourages us to carry it out. That is why we are moved by each interlude and song – and in so many different ways.

Solange has eloquently captured the years of racial trauma and exhaustion we’ve felt into an audio and visual book of the black narrative. This is the representation in our own stories we’ve been longing for. Every track hits you deep. Like, literally touches your soul. The love and pain you can hear in each word is infectious. In her third studio album, Solange has been able to reflect the experiences that you or someone you know has went through. By the time you finish all 21 tracks, you feel like everything is going to be more than alright.

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A Seat At The Table is a testament to our resilience and black magic.

This is why Solange is like your sister, woke best friend, and aunty – all in one.

She gets us.

She reminds us to embrace our magic and bask in every shade of our blackness.

She reminds us that we have a responsibility to not be selective in our politics.

She is telling us that our friends cannot love or care about us if it is in spite of our blackness.

She is helping us become more finely tuned to self love.

She is giving us a sense of belonging and appreciation.

This year is for us.
It is time for us to be unapologetically black.
It is time for us to take back our seats at the damn table.

I really don’t know how but Solange continues to amaze me with the depth of her journey, bravery, love, anointing, aesthetics and black girl magic.

Solange ain’t sorry and neither should we be.