by Alexandria Mason
When I read the initial reviews of A Seat at the Table, I was on a city bus in tears. Only a month into the semester and I found myself at a low, questioning every dream, every plan, every accomplishment as I stared down the barrel at graduation. Ironically, Borderline (An Ode to Self-Care) was playing in my ears, but I couldn’t hear Solange speaking to me through my tears.
Two days and a breakdown later, I finally could hear her. She couldn’t talk me from the edge because I had already fallen, however once I let myself break, she allowed me to build myself up. I found so many parts of myself in each song; some parts I didn’t even know my body had been hiding from me. Cranes in the Sky encourages me to name my demons as I ponder how I can “fix” any problem of mental health or trauma I’ve experienced. Don’t Touch My Hair plays in the background as I swing my braids and two-step, embracing my ghetto girl aesthetics and hair flipping with an extra emphasis. She acknowledges our magic, our struggles, our worth with Junie, F.U.B.U. , and Mad. But most of all, we are getting life advice from the No Limit soldier , self-made mogul himself, Master P.
I looped this album as I wrote affirmations to place on my mirror each time I had to look myself in the face:
You’ve come this far.
Faith without work is dead.
Black Girl Joy.
I love you.
Mistakes happen. LEARN.
Solange slowed me down. Her album took mindfulness and focus. I find myself in so many mindless routines that never consume my full attention, but once I sat down and opened my ears and turned my mind from my to-do list, I heard so much of the advice and affirmations friends give on a daily basis. She didn’t tell me anything new, but she told me in a new way: with an album specifically and exclusively for me, this overwhelmed Black girl just trying to find her place in the world and keep her shine.
To my fellow Black Badgers, especially my seniors, especially my 2 job havin’, grad school applyin’, research conductin’, GRE studyin’, 13 credit takin’ seniors: Please, if there is ever a day when the rainbow isn’t enough, I hope that A Seat at the Table is. WE are not alone in our transition, in our struggles, in our doubts. Hold fast to your dreams, lean on your mentors, and most of all know that crying is not a weakness.
“Don’t let, don’t let, don’t let anybody steal your magic, yeah
But I got so much y’all
You can have it!”