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‘To be celebrated is to be loved and Black women were not always loved in the mainstream.’ 

By January 30, 2021No Comments

Ola Majekodunmi on what Destiny’s Child meant to her and the world…


Growing up, girl groups like Destiny’s Child were at the heart of my childhood. When the world fiercely celebrated three (or four) amazingly talented Black women, they made me so proud to be in the skin that I am in. Seeing international acts like this also helped inspire me and elevate my self-esteem to show me what I could one day do. The representation of these women is so important for young girls and women especially. 

The world saw, and still sees, Destiny’s Child (formerly ‘Girl’s Tyme’) as one of the most powerful and successful girl groups of all time. Their name, Destiny’s Child, came from a reference in the Bible; according to sources, Tina Knowles, Beyoncé’s mother, picked the word ‘destiny’ from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah.  A lot of the soulful melodies from the band’s faith-based upbringing inspired their early sound.  

The world watched as they entered the music scene in 1999 and continued to top the charts till 2005 when the group disbanded. I was about seven years old, in 2004, when I first really took notice of Destiny’s Child. Funnily enough, I really enjoyed all the R’n’B music at that time even if some of the music videos on MTV Base were rather a bit too racy for my age to watch (my dad later banned me from watching that channel). It was such a great time singing to music of that time because you just went along with the tune, you hardly understood the themes and lyrics behind some of the serious and emotional songs. Say My Name was always the tune for me; I thought it was just so catchy and still to this day I love it. I just really had a vibe with a lot of the Destiny’s Child music, I felt sassy and cool while listening to it. We even had talent contests in our class in primary school; myself and my friends would always repeatedly sing Survivor. I made sure to really channel that song in me. 

Destiny’s Child was a group that were loved almost universally and unanimously. They appealed to a lot of people’s taste; they were stylish and fresh. People wanted to be a part of their group, they had the world at their fingertips. I feel a massive high whenever I sing or dance to their music. I feel alive, regardless of if some find their music outdated or ‘cheesy’ today. Their tunes really make me feel worthy and confident. I sing their lyrics and I feel like YES, I am proud to be me.

I always found it heart-warming that the world was happy to celebrate these women even though they were Black. This was not and still is not something that is an extremely popular sentiment. To be celebrated is to be loved and Black women were not always loved in the mainstream.

Beyoncé was the lead singer of the group. Some may argue she was the main attraction or that all the attention seemed to be geared towards her. There were comments from some sources that it was because she is lighter-skinned, while the rest of the group were darker-skinned. Beyoncé appealed to the white audience, and she still does to an extent, which is a part of the reason as to why she was able to build an amazing career following Destiny’s Child. 

I do wonder if the group would have been as successful if they were all dark-skinned. Her father Matthew Knowles even agreed with this view, saying on BBC 5 Live in 2018 that “it becomes easier. Absolutely.” – when asked if Beyoncé’s career benefitted from her lighter skin tone. 

The former music manager went on to say about the music industry’s discrimination that virtually no Black pop stars with darker skin had broken through in the past decade. “This is the record industry and the music industry that has chosen to have this colourism, because in America you can’t name in the last 10 years… [there’s] maybe one person in the last 10 years that wasn’t a lighter shade of Black at pop radio. It’s a 100% fact.” Kelly Rowland, Beyonce’s bandmate, apparently experienced a dislike for her skin growing up in the band and wanted to stay away from the sunlight outside. It was Beyoncé’s mum, Tina Knowles who reminded her how beautiful her skin was.

 “I remember I went through a period where…I didn’t embrace my chocolatiness […] just being a chocolate, lovely, brown-skined girl and being proud of that. And I remember […] being out in the sun and I was trying to shade myself from the sun and she was like ‘Are you crazy?’. She said ‘You are absolutely gorgeous’ and just told me how beautiful I was…” Kelly said in an interview.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was inspiration for Kelly to later feature on Beyoncé’s highly popular Brown Skin Girl from her 2020 visual album Black is King. I felt like I could relate to Rowland the most as she was darker-skinned, and I loved the tone of her falsetto, her great dance moves and her vibrant, humorous, and engaging personality; what I wanted to emulate. I have followed Kelly Rowland’s career throughout from when she was in the group as well as having a solo career. She had a star-like quality that child me could look up to.  

When I saw the rest of the Destiny’s Child crew at the Super Bowl half-time guest appearance with Beyoncé, I was ecstatic. Yet again, the world was able to celebrate these inspiring Black women. We all sang along and danced to their old tunes; it was like a trip down memory lane. They gave us a chance to reminisce and get excited at the possibility of a reunion. I felt like I could see myself in them on that stage. They weren’t just Destiny’s Child, they represented talented, successful Black women to the world. They showed everyone ‘this is us’. We’re entertainers but we’re still Black women who deserve to be celebrated. This is the kind of thing that empowers me and many other young women. When I see the world celebrating them, I personally feel celebrated.

I loved Destiny’s Child for their realness. They may have been this massive, famous girl group but underneath it all, they were humans. Michelle Williams has often opened about her struggle with depression. So many people, not just women, would be able to relate this. Here is someone in a starry-eyed profession sharing with us that she too goes through rough times even at the peak of her success. The singer has also shared on Good Morning America in 2018, that she had recently been hospitalised for depression, showing that it is okay to ask for help no matter who you are. We often tie celebrity with perfection, and this is falsehood. Williams proves that celebrities are human beings with emotions just like everyone else. Regardless of her being at the peak of her fame, she still suffered mentally. It wasn’t all glam 24/7.  I think stories like this open our eyes wider to those we put on a pedestal. We’re all fallible beings who have issues from time to time no matter what.

I have always very much felt that African American girl groups such as Destiny’s Child really shaped the narrative and led the way for a lot of young Black girls like myself to be in awe, so we too could believe in the unimaginable. That we can be noticed and be powerful beings just like anyone else. 

Main image from @destinyschild on Instagram