Creative Culture Clash: A Story of Zorro, Beyonce and Domestic Violence

Though I have long been an admirer of smart and talented women, I am only newly a member of the Beyonce fan club (a.k.a., the “Bey Hive”).  Years ago, on a trip to Santa Barbara to visit my parents, I arrived in the evening and they were watching a Zorro-themed telenovela that had an amazing opening song. As soon as I heard it, I was hooked. The voice sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. I sat down to ask who was singing and my mom said simply: “Guess.”  I thought “Hmmm, Yuri?” A big smile crossed her face and my dad grinned while shaking his head “No.”  I couldn’t think of any other Latina artists, so finally my dad responded “Bee-yone-say.” What?! In addition to the shock of the news, hearing my dad say “Beyonce” was, well, a surprise.

As part of our work through Blue Shield Against Violence, we have intentionally looked at questions that may have unexpected answers. Beyond support for traditional services, we continue to ask ourselves how and what we can do differently to overcome language and cultural barriers and meet the unique needs of DV survivors across the state. In this endeavor, I think there are some key comparisons and takeaways from Queen Bey herself:

I. Services must be high-quality and linguistically appropriate: She sings in Spanish, and does so beautifully.

II. There must be multi-generational and culturally specific exposure: Her song is the lead theme for a widely-watched telenovela.

III. Partnership is key to success: She sings with a well-known Latino artist.

IV. Providers must be willing to be bold: As an African-American woman, she steps beyond her culture and comfort zone into a male-driven, Latino, and non-English-speaking space.

V. There must be broader awareness of and connections to the community: Her whole album is a collaboration with Latino artists representing different countries and genres (mariachi, reggaeton, rock-en-espanol, etc.)

If we can use these insights as a guide and remain open to collaboration, we may find even more unexpected answers and allies in our work to improve DV services for those most in need.

Clearly, new partners were a critical ingredient in Beyonce’s album, and the quality of her Spanish won-over even my parents. However, her success also took risk-taking, leadership, hard work, and resources. The same ingredients are needed for DV organizations to succeed in responding to the diverse cultural realities of DV survivors. Though we may never master her dance moves, the Foundation is committed to partnering and learning with our grantees to become as bold, responsive, and innovative as Beyonce.

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