Yesterday Netflix released HOMECOMING. The film documents the work that went into building Beyoncé‘s life changing, historical headlining show at Coachella (better known as Beychella) 2018. The film spotlights black history, black education, black music, black art, black dancing, black love, black families, and black excellence.
For many in attendance at Coachella Beyoncé’s performance was just that, a performance. Many people didn’t understand the themes and messages of the performance. Black attendees got the references as it was what they more or less saw themselves or a part of their lives on that stage. The film shows the intentions behind the performance, it was all meticulously designed to honor black culture.
By letting viewers into the planning and rehearsals, and sharing her inspirations and telling us exactly what every part of this means, she’s taking away any lingering questions about this performance. She’s making sure that even if you missed all of the details on stage, and ignored all the conversations online, you know what she was doing. Beyonce loves black people and wants us all to know it.
Beyoncé’s Coachella performance was historic in so many ways, initially her being the first African-American female headliner. In the 20 years that Coachella has been around there had never been a black woman as the main attraction, until Beyoncé. She took the historical moment to share more history and take up the space that many black people rarely ever get!
Beyoncé’s HOMECOMING performance featured HBCU bands, dance teams, steppers, Black dancers and black people of all shades, sizes and skills! Before Beychella you would only see performances of that style in African American communities, whether it be high schools, colleges and universities, black churches and black Greek organizations.
HBCUs are Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs were created before the Civil Rights Act as higher education institutions for black people as we weren’t allowed at white universities. The culture and history of HBCUs is unlike predominantly white colleges and universities. At HBCUs the dance styles are different, the extracurriculars are different; the culture is 100% unapologetically, authentically black. We see traces of black history in everything at HBCUs and that is displayed in HOMECOMING.
The insight into black Greek life was so real on that stage. The Bug a Boos displayed what it is like for people rushing black fraternities and sororities with Beyoncé as the Big Sister demanding them to do a task at the drop of a hat. Many people know that joining a black Greek organization is no easy task. It is secretive, time consuming and at the end the most rewarding experience when you cross and reveal yourself as a member of one of the “Divine Nine” Greek organizations.
The history of Beychella deserves to be celebrated, because for so many black people we don’t see our history and our culture shared on such a large platform. Besides the 2002 film, Drumline, most HBCU drumlines don’t get public recognition for the incredible things they do, the grueling process of being a part of a drumline, nothing. HOMECOMING spotlights an authentic HBCU style drumline, the Bzzzzs.
To hear Beyonce sing Lift Every Voice and Sing, which outside of the African-American community is a rarely known song is so emotional. I only ever heard Lift Every Voice and Sing in church on Sundays and at random black events growing up. It is one of the most moving and motivational songs within the black community. She shared so much under represented black music, from her sample of Big Freedia at the beginning of the film to the end credits with a back family reunion staple, ‘Before I Let Go,’ Beyoncé exposed the art and beauty in black music and not just her own with this performance.
The artistry in the film is displayed not just in the costuming, but the movements on the stage as well. From the Nefertiti styled costume Beyoncé wore when she first walked out to every garment the band members worn were works of art created by Olivier Rousteing. The art in the movements on stage was truly magnificent.
The art behind Les Twins dancing and the step routines was truly authentic. The dance style stepping is a form of percussive dance in which the dancer’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps and hand claps. HOMECOMING also showcases the dance style of many HBCU dance teams where the dance captain will do an 8-count first and then the rest of the dancers will follow in suit like a ripple effect.
The film also offers more insight on the relationship between Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Though there isn’t a lot of detail we get to see more moments shared between Bey and J as they prepare for Beychella. The number of model Black relationships is growing, but steady ones that have weathered the time and trials of life are few. Beyoncé and Jay-Z are one of those couples and this film shows more of their love.
HOMECOMING celebrates black excellence, past, present and future. She uses the voices of prominent members of the African-American community to narrate the film, exposing viewers to people that in some way have carved a path for African-Americans today. The voices and words of so many life changing people within the African-American community including, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman, Reginald Lewis, Audre Lorde, and Cornel West. It was her show, that is the epitome of present day black excellence. Beyoncé has built an empire, cultivated a community with her music and continually pushes the boundaries setting her own rules in everything she does. She celebrated the future of black excellence with every HBCU student or youth on that stage with her. She gave them a platform, a spotlight to show what they can do and create. She showed that give the space, time and opportunity we can create EXTRAORDINARY things!
Why does HOMECOMING matter? Black culture is appropriated daily, wiping out the fact that black women did it first, black people made it first but were shamed about it and then the idea stolen and thrown back at them by someone else as if it were their own work. HOMECOMING matters because it an unfiltered, unadulterated, unappropriated documentation of black culture. Beyoncé shares a look at a world that many don’t fully experience. This is an introduction to our world. An introduction of a community and world that won’t be pushed to the shadows. We as a community are going to take the space we deserve, claim what is ours and not feel embarrassed or like we don’t belong anymore.