“We’re just pro-Black, and that’s ok.”—Tina Knowles, A Seat at the Table
A year after its debut, A Seat at the Table by sista-friend Solange Knowles still gets heavy rotation on the Black Girl’s Playlist. And the reasons why are many.
The real beauty of Solange’s A Seat at the Table rests in its duplicity. I don’t mean that in a bad way. It speaks to the genius of the album—a collection of songs sung softly but spoken loudly, conveying a message that’s impossible to miss.
For me, and I’m sure many others, the album came at a crucial time. In the midst of systematic murder of black men and women at the hands of law enforcement and the emboldened spirit of hate groups like the KKK, Solange’s lamentations throughout ASATT summed up the beauty, the plight, the complexities of being black back in October 2016.
Today, a year later, I listen ASATT‘s opening track “Rise,” and am reminded of the importance of staying true to myself, regardless of the successes or failures doing so may bring. It’s easy to recall the parallels to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” published 39 years ago but sadly (or thankfully), just as appropriate, relevant and meaningful today. Both women vocalize a strength and resiliency rooted in a self-acceptance that is inherently black and inherently female.
“Mad” conjures familiar images for me, who in the past months, has seen pieces of Angry Black Girl resurrected in myself; my temper short and tolerance low. “Cranes in the Sky” describes me on certain days when I look for relief in the things that bring me pain. “Don’t Touch My Hair” reminds me of my own desire for self-determination and for survival. Solange lets me know she feels it too.
It’s not just the songs that are particularly poignant in A Seat at The Table. The interludes, imbued with funk and neo-soul vibes, are perhaps the most powerful aspects of the album; hearing Tina and Matthew Knowles, and Master P. speak, in raw and uncompromising declaratives was fortifying, affirming. Mama Tina summed it perfectly: “We’re just pro-Black, and that’s okay.”
How does one reconcile the idea that something born out of pain and anger can simultaneously provide peace? A Seat at the Table helped vocalize what I had struggled to say for so long:
Yes, I’m pro-black. Why shouldn’t I be?
Yes, I struggle. And that’s okay.
Yes, I am the shit. And I’m not sorry.
Sentiments like are spread throughout the album, a work made by a black woman, for other black women. And it doing so, it helped me realize that despite the often traumatic, never-ending experience of Being Black in America, I was not alone.
And for that, a year later, I remain thankful.