I always knew I liked Adele.
Even though her vocal technique makes me cringe at times (as a person who holds a BMus degree in Vocal Performance, I hold vocal health and proper technique near and dear to my heart, but that’s neither here nor there), her music has soul. It has always had soul. Even when “Chasing Pavements” was released, it was clear that she wasn’t your average performer. In the nine years since 19 was released, she unwaveringly continues to bring soul into every performance.
Another Artist whom I believe has more soul in their left pinky than the majority population is Beyoncé. Her visual album which she released on HBO 2016, Lemonade, was an iconic, raw, real masterpiece. Lemonade shook the world. It established Beyoncé not only as a pop legend (we already knew she was), but also as a culturally relevant entity with more powerful things to say. I thought Lemonade was a shoo-in for Album of the Year.
Beyoncé didn’t win Album of the Year. I know it’s a matter of opinion (I’mma let you finish, buuuut…), but she should have won. Adele’s 25 was great, but Lemonade…Lemonade was on its own level.
Social media, of course, has blown up. All on my Facebook feed, people have been saying “Adele, yay! But, Lemonade was so much better!” or something of the like. Even on Twitter, people were talking about how Lemonade should have won.
When Adele went onstage, she used her time allotted to thank those who assisted her in winning this award to point out Beyoncé’s artistry and said that she couldn’t accept the award, because she understood just how important Lemonade was. She used her moment to built up another fantastic artist, Beyoncé, in her acceptance speech, and admitted that Lemonade should have won album of the year.
Here is why this is a significant, intersectional feminist moment.
Beyoncé has been on the scene for years. We knew her in the late 90’s and early 2000s during her stint in Destiny’s Child. Once Beyoncé went solo, She became a legend in her own right. Adele came out with her first album, 19, in 2008. Beyoncé has never won Album of the year in her almost twenty-year-long career. Sure, she won three Grammys last night, but the entire album was a piece of art and deserved to be recognized on the mainstream level, not only as Best Urban Contemporary Album.
I’m not saying that Beyoncé should have won because of seniority. I am saying that Beyoncé, a black woman, has worked her tail off for almost 20 years and in half the time, Adele, a white woman, won Album of the year. According to an article entitled “What White Women Can Learn From Adele’s Grammy Speech” by Emma Gray on the Huffington Post, a black woman hasn’t won Album of the Year since 1999.
I feel that this is indicative of feminist trends in America. Progress for black women, latinx women, transgender women, asian women, LGBTQ women continues to lag behind progress for white, heterosexual, cisgender women.
There are countless white feminists who won’t acknowledge and try to ameliorate the struggles of black feminists, Latinx feminists, asian feminists, transgender feminists, etc. We call this White Feminism, or Fair-Weather Feminism. These women are feminists when it is convenient for them, but don’t acknowledge, or even wantonly shut down issues that other feminists face every day. This moment could have easily passed into white feminism territory. But it didn’t.
Adele counteracted White Feminism by acknowledging Beyoncé’s empowering message during her speech. She even reiterated her resolve that Beyoncé should have won after the speech to the press after the fact.
Feminism is about equality among all genders, but intersectional feminism is about sisterhood and building up other women. Adele took the time and used her platform as white woman to praise the work of a black woman. The feminist movement is very much an internet and social media based movement nowadays, especially with the overwhelming support last month’s Women’s March on Washington garnered on Facebook alone. I think we need to see more of this trend of intersectional feminism and empowerment for all women, not just among entertainment giants, but also among women on and outside of social media.