Rooms, Tables, and Doors, Oh My!

At the end of March, Beyoncé dropped her latest album, Cowboy Carter.  I’ve spent countless hours listening, researching, and marveling at how intentional, innovative, and creative it is, but that’s not what this blog is about.  

This blog is about how Beyoncé and her team present a master class on The GSD Factor attributes of “Be Confident” and “Be Influential.”

As an African American woman working in a space that does not have much representation from my community, I sometimes hear conversations from people who don’t look like me or share the same cultural experiences concerning how they can be allies.  These conversations usually come up in diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops and often include references to figurative tables, rooms, and doors.  

Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen much evidence that the people having these conversations are actually finding and implementing solutions to provide access to these aforementioned tables, rooms, or doors.  I would like to direct those people to take a look at the credits on Cowboy Carter.  Not only did Beyoncé introduce millions of people to several lesser-known African American country artists – Tanner Adell, Tiera Kennedy, Brittney Spencer, Reyna Roberts, Willie Jones, and Shaboozey – but she also pays homage to Linda Martell, the first commercially successful black woman in country music and Grammy-winning folk musician Rhiannon Giddens. All of these artists, who were already amazing in their respective lanes, experienced exponential increases in streams of their original music as a result of being featured on Cowboy Carter!  

There are many things I love about this album, but watching the aforementioned group of artists get this extra exposure and recognition has been an added bonus.  Sometime before the album came out, I remarked to a friend how I don’t often get a chance to open doors for other people professionally, but I am honored to do so when I can. Cowboy Carter inspired me to volunteer to mentor an intern for my department at work.  I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but the whole process is time-consuming and an additional responsibility.  However, seeing the results of Cowboy Carter gave me the extra motivation I needed.  That’s my little contribution, and I’m committed to seeing it through.  

I am fully aware that everybody is not a fan of Beyoncé’s music, but if those who are willing to be allies would consider using their influence to provide opportunities for others as she did, we might start getting some new people at these tables, in these rooms and through these doors that keep coming up in DEI conversations around the country.  I encourage you, even if you don’t listen to the album, to consider how you can use your voice and influence to be a Beyoncé in someone else’s life.