A French magazine’s brilliant idea “to honor [Nigerian music superstar] Fela Kuti.” They recruited pop star Beyonce and dressed her up an “African Queen.” To achieve this, they darkened her skin, and, bizarrely, “necklaces with bones hanging off of them.” Nobody thinks it is a tribute. As Colorlines.com reports:
One of France’s premiere fashion magazines, L’Officiel Paris, thought they would honor Nigerian musician and human rights activist Fela Kuti by dressing Beyoncé up as, what they would like to call, an “African Queen.” The editorial shoot includes images of the international pop sensation in blackface, clad in leopard prints, feathers, head-dresses and necklaces with bones hanging off of them. A “return to Beyoncé’s African roots,” according to L’Officiel.
A Nigerian-British blogger, Lulu, is quoted as saying “this is not a tribute to him.” She added: “If this were a Martin Luther King tribute would she have painted her face black? In Nigeria we have all shades of black so I’m not really sure how this is a tribute to Fela.”
Turns out Beyonce, according to the magazine, had voluntarily darkened her skin for the shoot.
Dodai Stewart wrote on Jezebel:
It’s one thing to feel moved by Fela Kuti, and quite another to treat blackness as a fashion accessory, like a pair of glittery heels you put on because it looks cool. What if Beyoncé were an Asian singer painted to look like a geisha, or given exaggeratedly almond eyes? Perhaps even more important: By painting Beyoncé’s face darker, aren’t the French fashion editors basically treating her like they would a white model, i.e. a blank-palette object on which to place concepts? And not an actual, authentic black person with African heritage?