What Solange taught me about being a creative black woman

Solange Knowles is a work of art. From her music to her aesthetic to her all-around aura, she is both a vision and a visionary. Which is why it made perfect sense, in my opinion, for her to speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago earlier this week, as part of their “In Sight Out” series in partnership with Pitchfork.

From the moment she took the stage with Chicago writer Britt Julious, Solange made one thing perfectly clear: she loves Black women. And it’s no secret that we love her, too. (I dare you to find a Black woman who didn’t relate to “Don’t Touch My Hair” on multiple levels…I’ll wait.)


About a year ago, Solange released her third studio album, A Seat at the Table, a love letter to Black women everywhere.

“This is a Black woman’s body, she said, while speaking in Chicago. “My work will always be through the lens of a Black woman and a Black woman’s body.

While Solange shared insight into the creative process of making her #1 album, it was her candid remarks about entering her 30s and taking complete ownership over her body and her work that I related to the most.

“This is my shit. I’ve had to fight for it. And it’s scary as a Black woman because of all the narratives that go along with it,” she said. “It’s a learning experience. Black women artists have to work twice as hard, move faster, smarter, and more gracefully…and just knowing that has helped me navigate that in a much more fearless way.”

Although Solange is certainly wise beyond her years, she admitted to the audience that she doesn’t have it all figured out (well, that certainly makes two of us).

To hear her — a Grammy-winner — speak so candidly about imposter syndrome as a performance artist helped me feel less alone and validated my own feelings on the topic. She also referenced her recent departure from Twitter and reminded everyone of the importance of self-care.

"I've learned to shut up a lot more," she shared. "And also the power of knowing when to speak, how to speak, and when not to. It's a part of my self-care and self-preservation."

But don’t think for one second that Solange is about to fade into the dark night. With a limited-edition vinyl version of A Seat at the Table, she also made clear her intention to create safe spaces for other creatives of color with her cultural hub, Saint Heron.


“I want to be in my 40s and 50s knowing there was not one thing I was scared to enter, even if I failed at it,” she said. “This is the year I’m willing to risk it all and fight for it all, so that hopefully, in my next work, these battles won’t be as hard.”

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