We Built Sandcastles

There’s plenty happening on the Carter-Knowles home front. No one knows completely for sure, but it is essentially confirmed that Beyoncé gave birth to her twins very recently. While the birth of the near-royalty twins is exciting news, the media seems to have all eyes on Jay-Z, who recently released his newest album, 4:44. The reviews for the record are lukewarm, as member enthusiasm for Tidal is just as tepid. Yet Jay-Z is garnering public attention for 4:44 because of a major truth-bomb he drops in his song by the same title. In this record, Jay confirms longstanding cheating rumors and solidifies the storyline Bey creeped around in her historic album Lemonade. Jay-Z was in fact unfaithful in his marriage to Beyoncé.

Whether mainstream media wants to admit it or not, this piece of information blows any other relationship news out of the water for the rest of 2017. For so long, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have symbolized their own empire, defining “power couple” in every red carpet appearance and business venture. Their mutual respect and support was so envied and idealized by everyone. Fast forward to now, and even their most loyal of fans are questioning both stars’ integrity. Suddenly the most perfect couple in Hollywood the world isn’t so perfect anymore. It almost feels like the kingdom is finally crumbling. In this media frenzy, there are so many ways to take this news and run with it. I for one, have a few thoughts.

As I said before, plenty of people are hurt by this news. No matter how old you are, your heroes are supposed to be perfect and remain as such. How could Jay-Z have cheated!? They looked so happy in their music videos, at the Grammy’s, court side at NBA games. I really looked up to them! Unfortunately, the same way we learn Santa Clause is more of an idea, Hollywood continuously bubbles over as the façade it really is. When I write pieces specifically on celebrity news, the crux of the article is always this: they are human. And humans, no matter how flawless, rich and powerful, will always falter. Even in their marriages.

This is a devastating reality for both Jay-Z and Beyoncé fans. A lot of females fans are angered because something they long for and look up to exposed its nasty underbelly. Particularly for black women, infidelity is an all-too-real hardship within the culture. It was enough that Beyoncé was the ultimate black role model for young women, her successful marriage was a wonderful added bonus. For many, the Carters’ strong bond meant something more than a media spectacle. It was an accomplishment. It was a goal. But after all Beyoncé’s love songs we sang our hearts out to, and the articles we read about their incredible acts of devotion, the final takeaway from this recent news is that men still ain’t shit. Just the name Beyoncé is now synonymous with sex appeal, talent, beauty, intellect, strength. Jay-Z had all that and he still wanted more.

I think it is important that we consider how the media is presenting this controversy. Beyoncé laid out a 12-track record that explicitly explored her husbands’ infidelity, yet it is only news when he confirmed it a full calendar year later. This echoes the narrative so many women face; in which they are only taken seriously behind a male’s truth. Granted, there is some nobility in being held accountable. Jay-Z didn’t have to write 4:44, but the whole world was waiting to see if he would come clean. But I can’t help but think the press is still slighting Beyoncé in the wake of this news. How dare she bear two more of his children with this in his past. Isn’t she better than that?

The older I get– which still isn’t very old– the more I come to terms with the power of love.  I’ve learned that love can push you as a person, challenging everything you thought you knew. And many times this leaves you in situations where your head can’t catch up with your heart. Luckily, I’ve never been cheated on, but I can 100% see why a woman wouldn’t leave her unfaithful partner. It’s so easy to point a finger at women who stay, questioning their self-esteem or emotional intelligence. But love, particularly in a marriage, is so deeply binding. How can you leave someone you committed to in the name of God? Someone you share your whole self with? Built your life with? Considering  all that Beyoncé and Jay-Z have established together, it seems impossible.

A particular scene in the Sex and the City film always sticks out to me when I think about cheating in a marriage. When Miranda and Steve are in marriage counseling, she unleashes all of her pain in front of their therapist saying, “You broke a vow!”, revealing that he slept with another woman.

Timid, Steve responds, “What about all the other vows?”

In our Western society, monogamy is the premier model of romantic partnership. Somewhere along the way, cheating was understood as mother of all wrongdoings in a relationship. And while the emotional pain it can cause has earned it this title, remaining faithful is only one component of a marriage. Cheating is shameful, despicable, embarrassing, heartbreaking, confusing and awful. But that’s what the “for worse” means. Many shame Beyoncé for staying with her cheating husband, but previously commended her for her commitment as a wife. Is Beyoncé comprising her self-worth as a female? Or is she maintaining her promise to her unworthy partner, despite how bad it makes her look?

Maintaining my feminist moral anchor, I can’t judge another woman for her actions. Because more than anything, it was his actions that forced this strong female to make a very difficult decision. That’s what makes Lemonade just as poignant after all this time, because Beyoncé allowed herself to bleed out in the form of music. Even when her marriage faltered and her husband failed her, she only put attention on her art. Perhaps the most difficult lesson in anyone’s lifetime is that of forgiveness, and she verbalized the learning process in her award-winning album. Knowing what we know, 4:44 seems like mere runoff of Beyoncé’s incredible journey as a wife.

Even though we are in the thick of this marriage controversy, skillful as ever, Beyoncé and Jay-Z have put it in their past. A hallmark of their iconic partnership is the power over their privacy as huge celebrities. While we read headlines and write monotonous blog articles about the state of their marriage, they have it figured out. They might not, but it isn’t our business anyway. In his new album, Jay-Z calls the birth of his newborn twins a reason to “believe in miracles”. Considering the timing of their arrival, the miracle may lie in the context of their existence. Through sour betrayal can come the reward of promise and commitment. Beyoncé and Jay-Z both taught us how excruciating and beautiful it can be to make lemonade.