By: Alexandra Travis
You know an album is timeless if a year has gone by and it still seems like a new release every time you hit play. That is how Solange’s “A Seat at the Table” is for me. Sept. 30 marks the one-year anniversary of its release, and I still play this album nearly every day. I listen to it walking to class and getting ready in the morning; I’m even listening to it right now. Not every album can stand the test of time the way Solange’s has, and I believe the message behind the album is what makes it so special
The message that Solange sends with “A Seat at the Table” is not something that fades with time, especially in the political climate that we live in today. Black women have been known to tell stories and relay history through song because our ideas were not accepted in academia, and Solange is no exception. She croons about the challenges faced by black women every day, whether it is unsolicited petting and people touching your hair, or feeling like you don’t have the right to be angry. By mentioning these issues, Solange has validated the thoughts and feelings of black women across the world, and her music has created a space for self-definition, self-care and community.
One of the most empowering messages that Solange sends is the importance of self-care. She stresses how essential it is to allow yourself to acknowledge your emotions, and through that acknowledgement, come to terms with them and let them go. A prime example is her song “Mad.” She sings, “You got the right to be mad, but when you carry it alone you find it only getting in the way. They say you gotta let it go.” As a black woman, I sometimes feel hesitant to express anger because of the fear of being labeled “the angry black woman.” Solange acknowledges this resistance for black women to express anger, but she points out that holding it in will only make things harder. She does not encourage keeping these emotions in just to appease those around you, instead she tells black women that putting our well-being first is okay. It is empowering to listen to this music and feel like you are understood and for such a strong, black woman to tell you it’s okay to be vulnerable, despite how society may label you.
I can’t thank Solange enough for releasing this album nearly a year ago. It was exactly what I was searching for in terms of validation and understanding. Attending a primarily white institution can make you hyperconscious of the differences between you and your peers. Solange creates a safe space that black women can enter as simply as putting in their headphones. Though those surrounding you may not understand you, Solange does. Listening to her music and message puts me immediately at ease, and to me that is why her album is so classic. “A Seat at the Table” is timeless in the way that the black community can listen day after day and feel safe, at home and validated no matter their surroundings, and that never gets old.