Friday, February 23, 2024

Me and All the Black Women I Know

There is a meme going around on social media that if you receive a certain picture, it has symbolic meaning. Until a few days ago, I would have sent a picture of Supreme Court Justice (and my Soror) Ketanji Brown Jackson to represent the disgust my fellow Black sisters in law feel whenever we have to defend ourselves against specious attacks. She's definitely in the arsenal, as well as a picture of Spelman Founder Sophia Packard (which might not pack the same punch to anyone unfamiliar with how the Spelmafia rolls) but I think my go-to may now be Fani Willis.

If you get this from me, it means you done started something you'd best be prepared to finish. And if you read that and thought, hmm, shouldn't she have said better, then Imma caution you to watch your step and tread lightly. Because if you're judging my delivery and command of the English language in addition to questioning my intelligence while feigning sincerity, this not gonna end well attall!

I spent the better part of two days last week seeing shades of red that I didn't know existed in nature. It began with my frustration over comments made by a certain political pundit who helped Al Gore lose his home state of Tennessee in 2000. That must have provided cover for all of the other keyboard pundits, most of them nonlawyers, to opine about what Ms. Willis should have known better not to do. Then I happened upon some of the commentary from the hotep hallways where nothing any Black woman does is celebrated. And then finally, because it is February and I missed the memo that granted blanket amnesty to all current and future racist content on social media, y'all really been on one this year. Keep at it though, we got an extra day this month...

Let's start with the low-hanging fruit and dismiss any and all musings by the ashy un-lotioned incels among us. Dear Reader, I won't waste your time in linking to that nonsense because it follows the predictable pattern of diminishing the work of any accomplished Black woman. In this case, because they can't denounce Willis for being a bed wench, they can just call her a bitch or a hoe, and those posts get lots of traction from their man-baby brethren. This is in spite of the fact that their purported hero Brother Minister Malcolm X famously said in 1962 that the Black woman is the most disrespected and unprotected person on earth. I guess they all mysteriously missed that particular speech.

On the opposite end, as much as we appreciate the 'love' coming from our #thankaBlackwoman groupies, I am reminded that some of those people have been conditioned to believe that it is our job to clean up after them. As writer Zora Neale Hurston described it in Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), Black women are the mules of the world. Mules are beasts of burden, intentionally bred for hard labor. Maybe these people grew up in homes where there was a beloved Big Momma, or a trusted maid who was also the family confidante/washerwoman/cook/wet nurse. Or perhaps they watched a lot of television; regardless of what may have informed those expectations, their praises carry a tinge of, yeah just leave the dirty work for that Black lady. 

Thus, the faux outrage that Willis messed things up for all Black woman in professional settings is another problematic argument being touted by the loudest Black-people-are-not-a-monolith Pick Mes. Some of these same lowercase black folks insisted for YEARZ, like trained parrots, that we are not all the same and they prided themselves on being different, independent, suburban with a tan. Suddenly, in spite of their protestations, one pissed off Black woman has the power to make all of us you look bad to your drinking buddies. So you just had to take the time to denounce her to remind them that you are still cool, because dammit, you worked hard to be deemed acceptable and worthy to be allowed in their presence. Perhaps as atonement, they will let you buy the next round.

It is amazing to me that no matter how much we accomplish, no matter how much ballyhooed progress, it is nothing more than an intricate sand sculpture on a small beach. One wave and all of our hard work gets washed away by the tide. All of our accomplishments can be undone in a careless millisecond. Everyone else is allowed to be flawed, make mistakes, stumble through, but let a Black woman reveal the slightest vulnerability and I swear, it's like Jesus and His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane. While Judas is preparing for his betrayal, the majority of the disciples are in hiding. A chosen few accompany Jesus to pray in the Garden, where they fall asleep. Startled by the arresting mob, Peter loudly denies their friendship. In our most vulnerable moments, we anticipate that someone will betray us, and we expect that most of our friends are either going to remain in hiding or are too preoccupied with their own lives to get involved. But it is Peter's denial--the gratuitous disavowals that Willis should have known better; the acquiescence that this is an unfair system built on an ever-shifting landscape; that in her hour of need some friends wouldn't risk getting as much as a toe wet even if she had walked out on water to save them from drowning... 

It be your own people sometimes. Et tu, Brute???

Finally, let's talk about the I-don't-see-color because I-am-not-a-racist-BUT folks, the ones who have perfected other ways of expressing their biases. The pearl-wearing Birkin purse-clutchers who described Willis' courtroom demeanor as ghetto and made references to The Jerry Springer Show (which they must have watched). They were appalled that an angry Black woman walked into court on her own accord and left that same way, defiant and unashamed. That this Black woman with a law degree, years of prosecutorial experience, and the confidence of someone who was elected as the first woman to hold that position would stand up for herself. That this woman, who upon recognizing that her office possessed the power to pursue justice on behalf of those two Black women election workers who were harassed and defamed, decided to use that power to face off with the most powerful giant the Philistines have. That they assumed this same woman, who personally appeared in court weeks before this sordid soap opera to confront Harrison Floyd for violating the terms of his bail agreement, wasn't going to bring that same energy to court in defense of her career? 

I get it, you prefer a more refined Black woman, one that doesn't have a discernable regional accent and who comports herself with dignity. Right, because when now-Justice Jackson sat for three days at a Senate hearing where it was intimated that she didn't know the difference between a law book and a J. Crew Catalogue by Senator Foghorn Leghorn, I didn't see you take offense or offer her any empathy.  That Black woman also went through law school, had several prestigious federal clerkships, and was herself a federal judge--credentials no one could deny were impressive. Instead, Senator Bull McConnell attacked her demeanor as a performance which met the approval of Senator Butler Mushmouth whose theatrical thumbs down sure did ingratiate him with your MAGA crowd.

Quit playing in our faces! I could offer up the names of countless "respectable" Black women that you have disrespected for the most trivial of alleged offenses. Going back as far as Phillis Wheatley and the American Revolution, every educated Black woman has been subjected to those back-handed compliments, polite insults, and reminders that we will never be good enough. There is an entire MAGA conspiracy theory that Former First Lady Michelle Obama, the epitome of style and grace, is really a man. Madame Vice President Kamala Harris is right there, and no matter that she serves admirably as Joe Biden's work wife without breaking a sweat, these folks get on social media and act like she's the ethnic design pattern on the Oval Office drapes. Some of y'all wouldn't sit next to a respectable Black woman on a crowded city bus, so miss me with your T.J. Maxx condescension. 

If Fani Willis had glided into court performing Tchaikovsky's Pas de Deux, y'all still would have called her graceless and classless. If she had worn the crown jewels and spoken with the elocution of the Queen of England, y'all still would have criticized her body language and demeanor. So Sis came to court as her authentic I-grew-up-in-DC-during-the-80s-crack-epidemic self so act like you know, and I ain't mad! (Side note, she's a fellow survivor of DC's all-girl Catholic schools from that era, so she earns extra cool point in my book for that.)

She was righteously angry about while testifying about her personal life in open court, so she opted not to code switch. Unlike some of these rich men who do whatever the fuck they want as long as they don't get caught, women don't receive justice by remaining silent. There would be no presumption of innocence if she hadn't spoken up for herself, only the perception of her as presented by others. And make no mistake, this was political revenge porn without any pictures, so she had every right to take the stand to debunk the crass allegations and insinuations made about her character. 

You saw her Daddy. Of course he taught her to keep cash on hand and to have a plan that doesn't rely on a man. Me and all the Black women I know got this same life advice from a Black Daddy and/or Uncle. All of us also received some version of that infamous Papa Pope speech about being twice as good to get half of what they have. 

It isn't my place to opine about what she should have expected if someone went rifling through her garbage. My guess is that she expected them to find trash, so even if she was sloppy about not disclosing her past relationship with her co-counsel, maybe it shouldn't have been all that shocking in the first place. God forbid she has a personal life (another sexist stereotype). They discussed work over dinner...and took some of it home...and on a couple of trips out of town. And they went Dutch! The fact that we would hold her to a higher standard of personal conduct than the former President who directed a conspiracy to commit election fraud and the harassment of election workers, is a special kind of sexism. It's the kind that conflates an ethical slip with abuse of power from the highest elected official in the land by claiming that they are equal in magnitude. She should have known better while President Trump was only trying to disenfranchise millions of voters because he's a sore loser.


Admittedly when I first saw those Jerry Springer/anti DEI talking points trending, I took it personally. It isn't just that y'all are saying the quiet parts out loud, because that ain't new. And as Willis and I are the same age, we've both endured our fair share of micro-aggressive challenges to our right to occupy spaces that were only accessible to our grandmothers for cleaning. They weren't expecting her to come in with a more powerful broom, nor that she wouldn't ask for permission before redecorating. Of course these folks hate-watched her testimony to dissect and rip the very flesh from her bones--envious haters will do whatever it takes to discredit and disqualify us.

Then I remembered another lesson my Black Daddy taught me about not accepting the negative comments and jabs that people hurl at me with their mean-spirited intentions. Yeah, they might call me all kinds of names but I don't have to answer to them, nor should I allow their descriptions of me to undermine my confidence. It is not my job to control how you interpret what I am. If ghetto is the worst insult that your feeble brains can conjure up, well that's just proof of your mediocrity, lack of imagination, and audacity. 

I used to watch The Jerry Springer Show too, and from what I recall those raucous chants not only greeted Springer when he took to the stage, but also were used to de-escalate the chaos unfolding among the guests. What you heard was both an audience of Black sisters in law chanting Willis' name as she took the stand, and a necessary reminder that she's the District Attorney and she's got this.


Saturday, February 10, 2024

You Win Some, You Lose Some

This is not another long-form think piece about Beyonce. Or the fact that Jay Z got up on stage and started another unnecessary skirmish between the Bey Hive and the Swifties over the one Grammy Award that a certain person has never received whilst the other person has four. I mean, I understand the complaint, but it feels rather on-brand (and not in a good way), to whine about having ALL the things except this one little thing, for which she was not nominated, she doesn't need, and probably doesn't have the shelf space to display...

Nevertheless, none of the Beekeepers are going to agree with me on that. And after a week of reading commentary posted by grown-ass people with jobs unrelated to defending the Carter Family empire, I am going to leave that alone. Furthermore, having just written about Swift and mindful that we have an extra day this year for Black History Month, I will let her sit this one out as well.

Instead, I am writing a general open letter of sorts to the world that maybe we need to do a better job of remembering the lessons we were taught as children about winning and losing. Seems everyone has forgotten how to be gracious at both, with folks complaining about not winning enough or folks insisting that they won victories when all evidence indicates otherwise. Into this fray comes the Busy Black Woman to offer some reminders. 

Dear Everybody:

One of the first sentences you were taught as a child was to say thank you. I distinctly recall that if I failed to utter those words, several scenarios might play out, such as having whatever was just offered to me taken back. And it was done in such a dramatic way to maximize the impact, usually by the loudest Auntie or Uncle who declared I didn't hear you say thank you, so I guess you don't really want this. Then as a follow up, you had to endure a public scolding. And because this always happened at some large family gathering, you got that look from one or both parents--the look that clearly communicated that this wasn't even the half of what to expect on the way home. Ah yes, even at 50 years old, the memory of that kind of embarrassment has never faded. (Mind you, the person responsible for this trauma did not hear me say thank you, because I did say was no use arguing that point 40+ years ago any more than it is worth insisting on it now.) 

But you get my point. Thank you is the simplest, easiest, and most gracious sentence in every culture and language that can avoid most misunderstandings in life. It doesn't need to be an Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony-worthy speech (unless you are accepting one of those awards and need to thank God; your parents; your significant other, children, and pets; as well as your team of lawyers, agents, glam squad, etc.), in which case, just make sure to wrap it up before the music plays. 

Some of us were raised to send thank you notes; some of you were not. It seems as if nowadays handwritten notes are a generational relic, with many folks opting to send a thank you email or text. To be honest, I am not going to be a stickler about the form because I get that there are times when a less formal communication of gratitude is appropriate. Therefore, I am happy to receive a phone call in place of whatever Emily Post etiquette rules once existed. We're all busy, kids don't learn how to read or write in cursive anymore, and ain't nobody got time to be worried about stamps or how to properly address an envelope. 

However, I will judge you if I go out of my way to do something nice and you shrug it off like you deserved it. While I won't call you out like that loud Auntie, you gonna learn real quick that I won't trouble you with any future acts of kindness. Yes, it is that serious, because a failure to acknowledge someone's benevolence or generosity is not just rude, but it reeks of entitlement. No one is that busy or important. Even bill collectors take the time to thank you for making a payment. And in the event that you had a human moment and forgot to express thanks, that's fine because there is no statute of limitations. Better late than never.

When you were in elementary school playing some game on the playground, invariably, somebody got mad about losing. And that kid had an epic tantrum that required intervention by a teacher or playground monitor. After being hauled off to the principal's office or the teacher's lounge, s/he returned to class to offer an apology, which was then reinforced by a lecture on the merits of sportsmanship. I can't speak for everyone reading this, but I remember hearing this lecture every year in some capacity from every teacher who needed to emphasize that not all of us were going to win the game, be awarded the first prize certificate, be cast in the starring role, or sing the solo. 

Some of y'all weren't listening. Or maybe you were the kid who always came out on top, so you never had to learn what it meant to be the runner up. You got all As, you were the team captain, or you maybe you played soccer during that era when folks stopped keeping score and gave everyone a participation trophy. Whatever excuse you have for being a sore loser as an adult, it's time for you to put on your big kid pants and grow the heck up!

Sometimes you don't win. Al Gore invented the internet, won a Nobel Peace Prize, and still looks pretty good for his age. But he didn't win the 2000 Presidential Election because he lost the state of Florida by 537 votes*. The Atlanta Falcons were winning the Superbowl against the New England Patriots in 2017 until the second half of the game, then they lost in overtime 34-28. How many times have you watched a game show and the contestant in the lead loses Final Jeopardy or overbids the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right? Imagine being from one of those small countries that goes to the Olympics every four years but never wins any medals. Or being Susan Lucci for 19 years.

I don't know how we got to this point. I don't know what changed in the course of my lifetime where the adage that winning isn't everything became an alternative fact from the multiverse of infinite options. Political candidates routinely refuse to concede elections, with the best example being the former President of the United States who continues to insist that he won an election that he lost by 7 million votes. Winning at all costs has been normalized in other aspects of life, with students now filing lawsuits to gain admission to their top choice college. Or cheating to stack the deck in their favor like the parents caught up in that Operation Varsity Blues scandal. Sports franchises spend the equivalent of the gross national product (GNP) of the world's poorest countries just to win trophies. All of this backlash we see against diversity, equity, and inclusion is just sour grapes and fear over possibly losing access to once-restricted opportunities.

It used to be that losing built character. It encouraged perseverance. It taught us that life is sometimes unfair, but to show up and try anyway. Even the Bible tells us that there is a time and a place for everything, and while it doesn't explicitly mention winning and losing, shouldn't that be implied?

Someone wrote a post to Facebook about what Jay Z was teaching his daughter in his speech the other night, and I certainly agree that it was admirable for him to defend his wife (we'll address that part at another time). At the same time, I can also believe that he imparted the wrong message to his daughter about winning--it isn't always based on objective criteria. And we don't always deserve to win just because we show up. There are a lot of people who worked hard who still finish last, which is what we see happen every four years at the Olympics. Some of those folks only won the preliminary opportunity to compete on the international stage, but that doesn't make those victories any less significant.

There is an arrogance to feeling so entitled to winning that often leads to backlash, resentment, and eventually to becoming what winners fear--a loser. We've seen the defeat of athletes who compete past their prime and refuse to retire. We've seen the hubris of leaders who think they are irreplaceable. We've seen some extremely talented people surround themselves with sycophants who never offer critical advice or counsel. We've seen how people who are so used to winning at everything can't handle when the tides shift. We've seen world records broken, statues and monuments toppled, and greatness surpassed. 

We've seen winners lose. And then true character is revealed. 

The true character of the two ladies who aren't supposed to be the reason why I'm writing this open letter was on display well before the Grammy telecast. Beyonce attended the premier of Taylor Swift's Eras concert film, and Swift graciously acknowledged the influence Beyonce had on younger artists like her. EVERYBODY seems to have missed that in the rush to take sides, which has been most disappointing. Because if you truly understood the diva-like aura that tends to surround artists on that level, you would know this photo was definitely not a PR stunt.

You win some and you say thank you. You lose some, you nod and smile, and then go back to work or practice with a mind towards winning the next time. You keep putting in the work. You keep showing up. And what you will win at some point in the process will be more meaningful and significant than a participation trophy.

* still disputed, but not by Gore

Friday, February 2, 2024

TIME to Shake It Off

Alright Swifties and the folks who hate them, I started this piece before the Superbowl conspiracy theories began circulating about Taylor Swift trying to influence your young impressionable daughters. She'll swear that she isn't, but if your daughter suddenly decides to watch the game to catch glimpses of her in a skybox instead of Usher at the Halftime...

Remember when I said that I wasn't going to say anything about Taylor Swift being named TIME Magazine's Person of the Year? Me neither (it's been almost two months)...but I do recall that I tasted blood from biting my tongue. So fine, I have a lot to say and I guarantee some of you aren't going to like it! 

I saw the list of finalists, and it reflects all of the appropriate choices that one would have expected: controversial world leaders; the righteous working man (as represented by the Hollywood strikers); the heroic Trump prosecutors; icon(s) of popular culture; and the random inanimate object thrown in the mix to represent the cultural zeitgeist of the moment. My best guess is that Barbie actually won, but then someone was going to have to figure out how to interview a toy without that coming across as inappropriately suggestive or weird. 

So they went with the neurotic human Barbie that is Taylor Swift, and as is always the case whenever her name is trending, there was controversy along the predictable lines of people being elated, annoyed, or indifferent. What surprised me was the larger than usual coalition of people who expended time and energy on being offended

Like really? As the world burns, y'all are upset that a pop star got featured on a magazine cover? War in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Sudan. A wannabe dictator is running for President with a solid shot at winning, but Taylor Swift is the more worrisome influence on America's youth? I know that in theory, the TIME Magazine Person of the Year isn't supposed to be as trivial as the People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive or the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue can be. However, it is just a magazine cover as well, so by now (two, four, six...eight weeks or so later) we're just ignoring whomever/whatever is staring back at us from the virtual newsstand because no one keeps physical magazines anymore excepts doctors and dentists. 

And that would have been more than enough to say on the matter, until I noted an alliance of pearl clutchers between the Black Twitterati and the Moms of Liberty. That made for the kind of strange bedfellows which caused me to reconsider my silence. On the one hand, I understand the exasperated groans...Taylor Swift (again) when Beyonce is right there??!! However, on the other hand, just when I thought it might be best to *swiftly* walk away from what looked like white-on-white violence and head back to the hood, it dawned on me that Tay-Tay has become the most polarizing white woman in America since Hillary Clinton.

Again, we're talking about a magazine cover, not the Nobel Peace Prize. I know that we want Beyonce to be given her flowers and properly acknowledged, which we can do without going full Kanye at the 2009 VMAs. Nobody is denying the impact of Beyonce's World Tour. Nobody shrugs off the devotion of her BeyHive. And though we addressed this a few weeks ago with that cute picture of Bey and Tay together at the premier of Swift's Eras movie, nobody cares if they are frenemies or fake besties. Y'all need to stop pitting these women against each other! Seriously, you need to calm down.

Go on about your business and let Taylor Swift do what she does best, which is play the victim/anti-hero of her own success. Isn't that ultimately how she got this honor, by hamming up her "Gee, aww shucks, who me?" schtick to the kind of pitch perfection that has kept people talking about her all year? So stop helping her...PLEASE! 

She's talented. She's pretty. She can be charming. She likes cats. She has a lot of famous ex-boyfriends. By naming her Person of the Year, TIME has done us a solid by starting the clock on her inevitable popular decline. I know that reads like I'm taking shots of haterade (I'm not); however, I'm simply stating the obvious. What goes up, must come down. After a year of being the center of attention, the backlash of being weary of all things Taylor, Taylor, Taylor is just beginning. 

Is that what y'all want for Beyonce?

Congressional hearings over the availability and price of her concert tickets that result in nothing? Having your pleas for her to come to your city on her much-ballyhooed concert tour go unanswered? Getting denounced by the Alpha men and Podcast Bros as a floozy and the MAGA Karens as a witch? 

Consider what the title of TIME Person of the Year really means in the grand scheme of things. She gets to share that designation with some very honorable people such as Nelson Mandela, St. Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr., but also quite a few terrible folks like Adolph Hitler, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump. She wasn't chosen because she's some inspirational freedom fighter standing up to a Bond villain dictator (nominated again this year), nor as a symbol of some significant movement in human progress. She's no Angela Merkel; however, she is a mega-successful multi-talented artist who had a really good year. Maybe it seems inconsequential, because making people happy through art isn't at all like working for world peace or curing lethal diseases, but Lord knows that we need some joy in these turbulent times. However, this choice feels like a set up, and a few months from now, she might wish they had gone with Barbie. 

Honestly, the person who should be really pissed right now is King Charles III. Consider that he's waited his entire life for these kinds of honors, only to be relegated to being just another name on a list. I got a certain amount of petty glee to note that the American daughter-in-law he keeps trying to make us hate, the one who was too busy living her life to attend his coronation...she found time and a sitter to attend the Taylor Swift concert.  

Even I got sucked into Taylormania this year. I had just joked with a friend that I would never, only to forget that declaration when I bought tickets to the Eras film a few weeks later. Of course, they were for the Kid, under the rationale that her ability to sit through the Swift concert would determine whether she could manage to do the same for the Beyonce film (almost). We were about halfway through hour two of Eras when I realized how many TS songs I knew from just casual radio surfing in the car. And I have to give the woman her props--it was a quite a show!

So now what? Will this be the high watermark of her career?

Since I am old enough to have witnessed this phenomenon with several other global superstars, I can say with certainty that the fall ain't pretty; the splat at the bottom is ugly; and the comeback never restores the artist(s) to the heights they once achieved. Having just watched the documentary about Michael Jackson and his iconic Thriller album at 40, it reminded me of those innocent times before everything really blew up, when I was the age of many of the youngest Swifties. Back then, Jackson was setting Guiness World Records, collecting Grammy awards, integrating MTV, and overall changing the music industry. No one could touch him, but like most people who fly too close to the sun, he came crashing down to earth. 

I imagine that a similar retrospective of Eras in 20-30 years or so will find us revisiting this moment to determine where it all began to shift. Was it Taylor's fault that her presence at NFL games to cheer on her next ex-boyfriend would annoy so many people? Didn't she know that she would never overcome the ridicule of having taken a role in the movie version of CATS (2019)? How did she always manage to reach any career milestone without the "help" of Kanye West? (Yeah, I said it!)

While we can clearly see the Beyonfluence on Swift and think the worst, it isn't like she hasn't been borrowing notes and copying from the others who preceded her. Let's begin with Janet Jackson, the Fairy Godmother of every 21st Century Pop Princess. Recognize that pose from Swift's second POY TIME cover from the janet (1993) album? How many of you remember the first Taylor (Dayne) to make it big in pop music? Or that Ms. Diana Ross the Boss was the queen of multiple costume changes in a single show? I could name-drop a bunch of girl pop acts from the 80s, from Tiffany and Debbie Gibson to the Aunties Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, and Mariah Carey who were each, in her prime, pioneers who cleared away shards of broken glass so that Swift didn't get cut along the road to success. 

Heck, some of Taylor's best stuff has been ripped off inspired by others. Becoming BFFs with various LGBTQIA icons--that was Madonna in the 90s. The entire boudoir dominatrix aesthetic was big in the Aughts, which I remember well since one of the very first pieces I wrote about popular music back in 2001 was inspired by the remake of the Lady Marmalade video for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. That same year Britney Spears performed live with a snake (Swift's snake at her show was an optical illusion). Swift must have been about twelve then, the kind of "good" girl who diligently practiced her instruments and jotted down lyrics (while taking copious notes) in her glitter-covered spiral notebook. She definitely spent a LOT of time watching classic MTV videos because hello, Michael Jackson did the zombie in the graveyard thing first. And that folksy rock-witch serving Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus (1993) era was a clear nod to Stevie Nicks. How much do you want to bet that Swift assumed no one would make the association between one-hit wonderful Toni Basil and how she obviously inspired Shake It Off?  

Yeah, if Artificial Intelligence could have created the perfect pop star...

Which brings me back to where this all began with the TIME cover and how maybe it's just perfect that Taylor Swift would be named the Person of this most superlative thank-God-it-is-almost-over trainwreck of a Year. While some folks might be envious and critical of Beyonce for both legitimate and ridiculous reasons, she's a working mother of three married to a billionaire, so she's not worried about a magazine cover. And she's made it clear that she and Swift are like two vast oceans that maintain their unique attributes even as they mix, commingle, and share fans. Queen Bey don't need or want any parts of this foolishness.

On the other hand, Taylor Swift is probably writing a song about all of this backlash that will become next summer's earworm, and so all of this Taylorific disdain will have the opposite effect. She has a knack for courting controversy so that it serves her; hence, no matter what we say or how we feel about her, she's not going anywhere anytime soon. She is formidable, resilient, and she won this dubious honor over a King, organized labor, two dictators, and a $10 plastic doll. That this woman can be loved and reviled, admired and maligned, yet somehow manages to triumph is extraordinary.

Even if you're still convinced that Barbie would have been a better choice, the reality is that she would have melted under this kind of scrutiny. In the movie, she couldn't handle the perceived imperfection in having flat feet, and the other Barbies got overthrown in their own dreamworld by a bunch of idiots. Taylor (and here comes a bad pun), is too Swift to be undone by shallow insecurity or some male accessory who is only relevant because of his association with her. If for no other reason than to piss off the podcast bros who resent that she's way out of their league, Taylor Swift will always be a better choice than Weird Barbie...and the world will be grateful for that in 20-30 years.