One Jump, All Jump: Critiquing Beyonce and Other Black Figures

When I was growing up, my mother made sure she instilled the importance of solidarity among my siblings and myself. She summarized this value in a short four-word phrase:


“One jump. All jump.”
That meant if one of us got attacked, we were obligated to defend that sibling, no questions asked. As I got older, experience taught me this view extended past my family unit. Friends have told me they were taught the same value and my collegiate studies back this up despite prevailing idea that black people don’t have any regard for each other. If I put my Africana studies cap on, I could argue that “one jump” is an African retention dating back to the collectivist practices of our ancestors. All of that said, there are times when “one jump” can be detrimental. Black women have been discouraged to report violence against them because their assailant happened to be a black man and no one wants to see another black man enter the prison industrial complex. Black women are more likely to be sexually assaulted and experience domestic violence but are less likely to report it and studies point to the “one jump” rule as a factor. In that case, “one jump” needs to be thrown out.
There are other times when it can be useful. As a black feminist, I feel fighting racism is just as important as fighting sexism since I can experience them simultaneously as a black woman. I’m willing to call a black man on his sexism and male privilegeand just as willing to call a white woman out on her racism and white privilege. The other day, Beyonce released a track titled “Bow Down” and all hell broke loose as it usually does when Beyonce does anything. Her “Beyhive” threw themselves at her feet and acted like the song was the best thing since sliced bread. Her detractors called it everything short of wack. While the stans and the detractors are about as annoying as a bee sting (see what I did there?), they pretty easy to ignore unless you’re Keri Hilson. They aren’t the group of Beyonce groupies that irk my life. That honor belongs to white mainstream feminists.

Merely criticizing Beyonce isn’t my issue. As someone that likes to analyze pop culture, I welcome well-rounded critiques of public figures and phenomenons. I get irritated when some “critiques” seem to target a certain group of people, namely prominent people of color. Beyonce can’t do anything without being picked apart in a way that I rarely see happen to a white celebrity of equal or similar stature. Beyonce gets lambasted for using the terms “trick” and “bitch”while there is a “Bitch” Magazine and white women across the country reclaim the word “slut”. Beyonce is ridiculed for being a proud wife and mother by people that don’t know why that type of image matters in the black community. Chris Brown gets witch hunted and Rihanna ridiculed while Charlie Sheen can parade around goddesses without a care in the world and Sean Penn can star in a new movie without people reminding him that he popped Madonna in the face at every turn. Yes, Beyonce, Chris Brown and any other black public figure should be subjected to critique but they should be held to the same standards as their white counterparts and that is the part the mainstream media doesn’t get. That’s part of the reason black people have the “one jump, all jump” mentality. We can talk shit about each other but we’ll be damned if we let someone “outside of the family” talk that same shit. Black feminists and any other critics are perfectly capable of critiquing public figures of color without someone without a lick of cultural reference being a monkey on those figures’ back.

In laymen’s terms, we got this and we will have this until mainstream movements choose to acknowledge that they don’t know everything and we will still have it after that happens. Contrary to popular belief, people of color don’t always need a savior.

What do you think of the “one jump, all jump” mentality? Leave a comment!

3 thoughts on “One Jump, All Jump: Critiquing Beyonce and Other Black Figures

  1. I was raised with the “one jump, all jump” principle in mind. I feel as though collectively as a people, we tend to leave each other hanging unless we have a personal stake in the matter. You would have thought Beyonce waged war or something according to some feedback. I feel she is entitled to say and do what she wants just as the Charlie Sheens and the like without being publicly crucified. Everyone is a critic to some degree, but I say the way everyone “attacks” one, they should attack all. It’s just like youbsaid though… Whatever she does causes a stir of excitement. I am just curious to know where that stir was when issues of ‘B’ magazine are circulating and the term ‘slut’ is such a freely used term…

    1. I agree! There is such a double standard among feminists and it grinds my gears! Thanks for reading.

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