On Monday afternoon, Audible announced that Blue Ivy Carter has narrated the audio version of Matthew Cherry’s children’s book, Hair Love, which is out now. The story, based on Cherry’s Oscar-winning short film of the same title, about a Black father who learns to do his daughter’s hair, is the first voice-over gig for Beyoncé’s firstborn. The internet reacted with the expected glee and admiration. I, too, was excited, and the first group of people I shared the news with were my Texas Monthly colleagues.
We’re fond of Blue Ivy here at TM, but she’s not someone we would necessarily write about. Her mother, of course, is a Houston icon, and she’s often in our magazine and on our website. The same is true of the other members of the Knowles family: Tina, Solange, and Mathew. But that doesn’t apply to Blue Ivy, who was born in New York and lives in California, or wherever her parents fly her to on their private jet.
Blue Ivy has done plenty of creative work in her eight years. Some projects, like the song “Brown Skin Girl,” for which she earned a writing credit and a BET award, were collaborations with her certified-Texan mother. Now Blue Ivy is officially striking out on her own, and considering she once freestyled “never seen a ceiling in my whole life” on one of her dad’s tracks, it doesn’t look as though she’ll be slowing down anytime soon.
We at Texas Monthly have been putting this off for long enough. It’s finally time to decide: Is Blue Ivy Carter a Texan?
On one hand, she wasn’t born here, she doesn’t live here, and I can’t confirm that she’s ever actually been here. None of those things is disqualifying on its own (Dan Patrick wasn’t born here, and Ethan Hawke hasn’t lived here full-time since he was four, and we cover them both constantly), but together they don’t make a great case for Blue Ivy’s Texas citizenship. But on the other hand—and this is supported by the concept of matrilineal descent in Judaism—she is a Texan simply because her mother is a Texan. So, depending on one’s religious beliefs, one could argue that Blue Ivy’s Texanness is ordained by God. Other factors that could automatically make Blue Ivy a Texan: Does she love Pappadeaux as much as her mother does? Does she know what “tump” means?
Of course, there’s long been debate about who a “real” Texan is. There is no precise definition, nor is there a reliable equation for Texanness based on years spent here multiplied by taxes paid (with subtractions for anyone who puts beans in their chili). TM has been trying to figure this out for decades. In 1986 we concluded that “the most important identifying characteristic of a native Texan is the desire to be one.” Seems simple enough. And in June 2019, the Texanist himself declared that “being Texan isn’t as black-and-white as one might think. A person is not merely a Texan or not a Texan. Even among Texans there are varying degrees of Texanness, much as there are varying levels of proficiency in the practice of karate.”
Ultimately, though, it’s not up to us to decide whether or not Blue Ivy qualifies as a Texan. There are only two parties that have that authority: Blue Ivy herself and the city of Houston. Should Blue Ivy feel connected to the state that her mother is from, we’ll embrace her with open arms. Likewise, if the city of Houston decides to claim Blue Ivy, even if she always identifies as an Angeleno, we’re on board.
Either way, Blue Ivy, we’re so proud of you! Can’t wait to see what you do next.