Jay Z and Solange: The fight
JAY Z FENDED OFF blows from sister-in-law Solange Knowles in an elevator, and the ensuing scandal said more about us than it did about them.
We were excited to learn that money couldn’t shield Jay Z and Beyoncé from family conflict. That’s why so many were so keen to pass judgment on what happened that night after the Metropolitan Museum benefit. The elevator incident led many of us to think our families are somehow better than theirs. But if the statement they released about the May 5 incident is true, Jay Z and Solange could have much to teach us.
If Jay Z and Solange are moving forward so soon after an incident that subjected their family to public ridicule, they should teach a course on reconciliation, because there’s no way most families would reunite this quickly.
“Our family has worked through it,” the statement says in part. “Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family.”
Jay Z and Solange: The truth
I have no way of knowing the internal dynamics of Jay Z and Beyonce’s family, but I do know is this: If Jay Z and Solange are moving forward so soon after an incident that subjected their family to public ridicule, they should teach a course on reconciliation, because there’s no way most families would reunite this quickly. If this kind of incident played out in most families, there would be hurt feelings and lingering resentments. There would be developing factions and various versions of the truth. There would be drama.
That’s the truth, and I’ve seen it in too many families to believe otherwise. When one partner in a marriage has a conflict with the other partner’s blood relative, everyone must quickly decide whose side they are on, and no matter what choices we make in those moments, the damage can linger for years.
Beyoncé decided not to intervene when her sister attacked her husband, and in the aftermath, she left with her sister. Will there be wounds in the wake of those decisions? I’m not sure, but I’ve learned this much in my 14 years as a husband: Marriage is a never-ending dance between lifelong bonds and new ones. It is the ultimate test of our ability to let go. It is the one institution that gives us countless opportunities to live up to our promises.
Jay Z and Solange: the Lessons
There’s a reason marriage vows include the promise to leave father and mother and cling to one another as husband and wife. Those vows are there because the kind of conflict that erupted between Beyoncé, Jay Z and Solange is always lingering just beneath the surface. Every family eventually experiences it, and marriages rise or fall depending on how we respond.
In the moment when anger spills over between family members, do we defend the sister we’ve loved for a lifetime, or remember to cling to our spouse? When an elder’s cruel words cut to the bone, do we defend our life partner, or remain silent? The questions are difficult, our answers are often wrong, and it takes years to rise above our mistakes. In their statement, the three seem to acknowledge as much.
“At the end of the day, families have problems and we’re no different,” the statement says. “We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.”
I certainly wish them the best. But I also know that if Jay Z, Beyoncé and Solange can reconcile instantly with a statement likely penned by a spokesperson, they are bigger than most of us. However, if the conflict simmers and occasionally boils over, they don’t deserve our ridicule. They deserve our empathy.
They’re just as jacked up as the rest of us.
Click here to read Natosha Warner’s Question of the day on family violence.
Featured image: Jay Z attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” on Monday, May 5, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon.