It was the eye-roll felt round the hive when, while sitting courtside at the NBA playoffs, a lady sitting next to Beyoncé leaned across her to talk to Jay-Z. The moment was caught on camera and Beyoncé did what anybody else would do in that situation, which is nothing. But a lot of people read a drama of Shakespearean proportions in her facial expressions, where maybe only a Little Golden Book was written there. The Pokey Puppy may roll his eyes at the Shy Little Kitten every now and again, but nobody’s going to be making death threats because of it.
Here’s the incident. Again, there is absolutely nothing crazy about what is happening here. The crazy part comes later when the Beyhive swarmed to protect their queen, eventually driving said lady, Nicole Curran, the wife of Warriors owner Joe Lacob, to disable her Instagram account.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé are courtside for Game 3 😎 pic.twitter.com/6mmJuN8Odn— ESPN (@espn) June 6, 2019
Looked to me like a slightly annoyed reclamation of her personal space. Or nothing at all, maybe just a 2-second drop in the facade. I’d hate to see my facial expressions GIF’d and analyzed ad nauseam. If I thought that might happen I’d never leave the house. But that little look from Beyoncé was enough to send the hive into a tizzy. They landed on Nicole’s Instagram page and stung, stung, stung, until her comments section looked like a coffin filled with Macaulay Culkin without his glasses. And he can’t see without his glasses!
Still, seemingly unaware of the size and quality of the pile of shit her shiny gold boots had stepped in, Nicole tried to make amends by posting a picture of her and Beyoncé in happier times. It was a mistake. The “can’t we all just get along picture” showed what could be interpreted as Nicole gently TOUCHING BEYONCE’S HAIR. Oh baby, what is you doing?
Personally, this picture tells a story I know all too well. And I’m guessing many members of the hive felt the same. As black women, we’ve all had experiences where our personal space has been violated because we are either invisible to the white gaze, or we’re condescended to and infantilized, especially when we’re in predominantly white spaces. We like to imagine that a glamorous, world-famous superstar with a billionaire husband and legions of devoted fans would be insulated from the common indignities that most of us broke-ass uggos have to suffer on a daily basis. Not so! Not even Beyoncé can escape being pawed at and having her personal space encroached on by a too familiar white woman.
I felt these images of Beyoncé and Nicole on a visceral level. But you know what? Beyoncé’s a big girl and can take care of herself. And this type of shit happens all the time. If I had a dollar for every time a well-meaning white lady I don’t know got handsy with me, I’d be as rich as Beyoncé. However, many members of the hive felt Nicole needed to be checked and jumped on this situation by doing THE MOST. What started as an amusing “did you see Beyoncé shut that woman down” conversation, soon morphed into thousands of people harassing Nicole and flooding her social media accounts with death threats and insults.
Nicole’s never going to forget this day. Here’s her side of the story, now that the dust has settled and her accounts have been disabled.
Just spoke to Nicole Curran, the wife of Warriors owner Joe Lacob, about the “incident ” with Beyoncé last night. She was in tears. Said she had been getting death threats on social media all night this morning she disabled her IG account just to make it stop.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 6, 2019
Curran said she had no idea anything was even amiss until she got home and started seeing texts from friends and checked her social media. She’s invited Jay Z and Beyoncé to the game 3-4 times before. Last night she says she asked if they wanted drinks. Beyoncé asked for water— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 6, 2019
Curran says Jay Z asked for a vodka soda. She asked if he wanted lime with that. But it was loud in Oracle and she couldn’t hear, so she leaned over. That’s where the photos of Beyoncé looking askance at her come from.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 6, 2019
In fact, you can actually see Nicole mouth the word “lime” in the clip. But the Beyhive is a notoriously unruly fandom and Beyoncé does little publicly to keep them in check. She does little publicly period. And she’s going to do even less if her every interaction with the general public results in the public excoriation of anybody who inadvertently looks at her sideways. On the other hand, I think some good may have come out of this episode of The Internet Is So Damn Stupid. Maybe the lesson here is the same one we’ve been shouting from the rooftops from time immemorial: Do not touch our hair without asking.
Header Image Source: ESPN via YouTube