Take a Long Sip...#LEMONADE
By now you have undoubtedly been barraged with articles and videos dissecting Beyoncé's latest project Lemonade. I honestly was avoiding expressing my thoughts (cause I have so many) on this piece because so many others have, but by (somewhat) popular demand here ya go ;)
Bey took her work to unprecedented levels, once again breaking barriers we didn’t know existed, through her visual album combining vibrant and vivid imagery, storytelling, poetry and of course music. Formation was a precursor to Lemonade, which expounded on the symbolism and strong messaging we first glimpsed in Formation. If you think Lemonade was purely about Jay- Z and infidelity you not only missed the heart of the project you are sadly missing out on the amazing story presented. Lemonade is about resilience, the resilience of black women and the legacy of strength we leave behind. Lemonade was a love letter to black women, celebrating our past, present and future. With excerpts from Malcom X’s famous Who Taught You to Hate Yourself speech, “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman,” she makes it abundantly clear who she is talking to- us. There’s so much symbolism and several layers to the work, here are a few favorites. Be sure to share your thoughts on Lemonade below in the comments.
What’s worse being jealous or crazy? Or like being walked over lately. I’d rather be crazy...I’m not too perfect to ever feel this worthless (Hold Up). Beyoncé showed us anger, vulnerability, fragility and the beauty of it all. That we as black women are allowed to feel and have those feelings be transparent. It does not detract from our strength but is what builds us and makes us human. Black women are expected, and often are, the pillars of our homes, families and the community. We are not permitted to show weakness as if it depletes our power, however navigating this world as a black woman requires us to acknowledge not only our strength but our vulnerabilities as well.
Ashes to ashes, dust to sidechicks. I ain’t thinkin bout you. I ain’t sorry. Suicide before you see this tear fall from my eyes. (Sorry) Infidelity. Loud and clear it’s hear and as I tried to keep up with social media and watch Lemonade I noticed a common thread. Many women had in some way, shape or form dealt with a man who had a problem with commitment. Whether blatant or secret there was a unifying presence of women encountering men who didn’t appreciate their worth. Dating men who didn’t love them like they did, reciprocity nowhere in sight and when they’d had enough it was Boy Bye. It’s okay to be unapologetic in your stance. If you don’t want to take crap, from a lover or a boss or anyone, you can leave. Don’t apologize for doing what’s best for you. And sometimes you just need to twerk it out.
Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about your husband or your father? When trouble comes in town and men like me come around my daddy said shoot (Interlude + Daddy Lessons). Daddy Lessons talks to the inner girl inside of all of us. Our relationships matter. Too often we as black women have to reconcile with the fact that though our dad may have been a great father he was not necessarily a great spouse for our mother. His treatment of one did not dictate the treatment of the other. Beyoncé has been transparent in the role her father played in shaping her and grooming her for stardom, yet his role as a father was not identical to that as a husband with several public infidelities and children out of wedlock. So often men know they are not good partners and hope their precious daughters avoid men like them. But how can we when so often it is said we marry our fathers? Love is intentional and we learn how to love from our fathers, our first true love. Choosing to love is essential in life and a crucial part of the narrative Beyoncé weaves in Lemonade. Note, Beyonce also makes it clear she plans to break the generational curse of infidelity- if we’re gonna heal let it be glorious…there is a curse that will be broken. Oh, and let’s take a second to bask in the musical beauty that is Daddy Lessons. Yes black folk do country, it’s our music form despite what popular culture may lead you to believe. We too are country music.
Why are you afraid of love? You think it’s not possible for someone like you. So I’m trying to be fair. Ten times out of nine I’m only human. I’ve always been commited. (Interlude + Love Drought) There is power in forgiveness. Love drought is honestly one of my favorite tracks. We are human and it is okay for us to feel rage, anger, hurt, love and forgiveness all at the same time for one person or thing. Your forgiveness doesn’t have to be quick and leading to it can be a period full of questions. But you can do it if you’re committed to it, and it doesn’t make you weak or foolish, on the contrary it makes you more powerful than you’ve ever been.
I break chains all by myself. I'm a keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves. (Freedom). Beyoncé has made an anthem for our struggle, with Kendrick Lamar on the track to confirm that’s exactly what it is. Our pain is fresh and wounds still open. It is for those living that fight oppression daily. It is for the ones left behind still grieving from their loved ones wrongful death. However, we will not live in bondage. Bondage being the literal and social limits of society, culture and preconceived notions. This song not only catered to my inner revolutionary but to my inner go-getter.
Finally, past, present and future black girls will always shine bright. Beyoncé brought out a bevy black girl magic, many of whom had been victims of mainstream media hate and criticism. Quvenzhane Wallis, Serena Williams, Zendaya Coleman, Amandla Stenberg, Michaela DePrince as well as the mothers of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. Striking images of black women of all shades (Winnie Harlow and Ava Clarke) and hair textures in white dresses, an ode to the antebellum south, on a plantation. These women, young and old, are seen working together and partaking in a family-style dinner- reminding us community is key. We no longer till the land but the blemishes of slavery still remain. As the title of the album suggests we always have the ability to turn tragedy into triumph, it is our legacy.
With Say my Name braids and baby hairs slicked Bey kept it trill, real and black. Nods to Oshun and Yoruba culture as well as Southern black culture cannot be ignored. So much of the imagery was powerful, but Beyonce laying in her own grief in the New Orleans Superdome was striking when you recall the destruction and sadness that took place after Hurricane Katrina at the same place. So much to see and say-because there’s layers to this y’all.
Also, it would be amiss not to shout out Warsan Shire, the amazing poet behind the beautiful narration heard throughout the piece. S+E recommended her a while ago so now you have to check her out cause she's Beyoncé approved.
Much like life Lemonade is sour, sweet, cold and refreshing at just the right time. Still need more Lemonade? Check out some of my favorite coverage dissecting the work:
- Jouelzy- Lemonade Cultural References & Critique
- Evelyn of the Internets- Beyonce Said Drink This #Lemonade, Heaux!!
- The Guardian- Beyonce's Lemonade is about much more than infidelity and Jay Z
, Now I'm off to get me an ice cold glass of lemonade and continue to spin gold out of this hard life.