Bathed in Blackness: Solange Pens Her Own Cover Story for the Harper's Bazaar Fall Digital Issue

Illustration for article titled Bathed in Blackness: Solange Pens Her Own Cover Story for the Harpers Bazaar Fall Digital Issue
Image: Naima Green/Harper’s Bazaar

It seems like just yesterday that Ms. Tina Knowles Lawson was giving us details on how she’d been staying productive and politically active during this prolonged pandemic. That’s because it was—and if you didn’t get the very pointed message she gave us on Big Beauty Tuesday, it was simple: Vote.

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It’s only fitting that on the same day our conversation made its way online, so did the dual covers of the Harper’s Bazaar fall digital issue—both starring Ms. Tina’s youngest daughter, the all-around creative known as Solange Knowles. Like her mother, Solange has been getting creative with her quarantine—after all, it’s what artists do, as Bazaar explained:

Like all of us, musician and artist Solange Knowles has been trying to make sense of these strange and conflicting times. So we invited her to do so here, in her very own Harper’s BAZAAR digital cover. She styled herself from a hand-selected roster of all-independent, majority-BIPOC designers; she tapped friend and collaborator Naima Green to help photograph her in isolation; and for her cover story, she shares a series of powerful personal essays and poems that lay bare the private challenges and collective pain, the hard-won triumphs, and, yes, the joy that propels us all ever-forward.

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Illustration for article titled Bathed in Blackness: Solange Pens Her Own Cover Story for the Harpers Bazaar Fall Digital Issue
Image: Image: Naima Green/Harper’s Bazaar

“When I see these two Harper’s Bazaar covers, I see the duality of me in these moments,” Solange writes. “I feel a lot of freedom in not having to chose to exist as one.”

It may not be a new album (yet), but on at least one of her two covers, Solange appears to have not only found her seat at the table but is commanding it, in all her full-afroed glory. And leave it to the enigmatic star to strum our pain with her fingers and sing our lives with her words, summing up the mood of a moment that has demanded, above all else, that we be more still than most of us will ever be comfortable with.

Stillness is goodness.

Ghost catch up. There’s nowhere to run, and all the voices you’ve been hushing, soothing, and cooing yell at you like loud children demanding answers.

The ones you’ve been saying you’d tend to when the time is right tell you there is no other time.

Then your body follows.

And for a minute there, things can get hard.

And every day you make a choice. To honor, listen, and live.

Illustration for article titled Bathed in Blackness: Solange Pens Her Own Cover Story for the Harpers Bazaar Fall Digital Issue
Image: Naima Green/Harper’s Bazaar
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Her musings include reflections on a life spent in large part on the road and the significance of journeys and homecomings. “Most of the work I’ve made has been about knowing where you’ve been to know where you’re going. Knowing who you’ve been to know who you are becoming,” she writes. While much of what Solange has to share characteristically errs on the side of the ethereal and slightly esoteric, it’s also deeply relatable and affirming—and ultimately, meditative in a way we’ve now come to expect from the younger Knowles sister. Childhood memories exist alongside more recent recollections of Verzuz battles; therapy, self-reckoning and healing are all on offer as she (like us) navigates a phase in which we’ve all found comfort and joy in unexpected places, along with the self-discovery only stillness can bring.

“And then we all had to confront stillness. To collectively honor, to listen, to survive,” she writes.

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It’s a beautiful collection of thoughts, with an equally beautiful series of portraits—and once again, Solange seems to be saying, “this shit is for us.”

I truly hope that every Black spirit does whatever they need to do during this time to hold themselves up. Whatever it may look like. Honor your grief, however you are led to. Hold on and go all the way into your power, however it calls to you.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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I could listen to Cranes in the Sky on loop.