My eyes are puffy, my head hurts and I’m in desperate need of coffee. Why? I watched “Lemonade” then listened to it three times through before bed while working on self improvement. This is the power of Beyonce. The self described grandma of my friend group, I voluntarily stayed up way past my bed time, worked out when I already hit my calorie goal on my apple watch, and organized my life down to the next ten years. This woman has been motivating me since before my first menses. She’s like that sister friend you find in grade school who’s a little old to still be playing Pokémon cards with you but sees something in you so she makes sure nobody steals your double dutch rope for the third time this month. She taught me that I was worth more than what a man saw in me, got me through my first breakup, and taught me how to embrace, cultivate and explore my blackness. I grew up in a predominantly white suburb and grew up code switching like nobody’s business. Beyonce’s brand of I’m going to do what I’m going to do and you can kiss my perfectly shaped behind feminism taught me to say “AND?!” To any unnecessary criticisms that came my way.
While there were a million white pop stars being churned out every week in the 90’s and 00’s, Beyonce was a mainstay from my childhood. She wore every wig from the corner store by your aunty’s house and rocked cornrows to award’s shows. She was unapologetically black and she helped me to see my own beauty, not through a European gaze but on its own. I remember going through it after my first breakup, spending half the day crying and the other half in the bath turning into a prune, skipping meals left and right. This was during the B Day era of Beyonce’s career. Once I had dealt with my grief I started listening to “Greenlight” on repeat and I finally got the courage to let go of the relationship and move forward. Everybody gets something different from Beyonce’s music. I get courage, strength and power.
Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter gave us a gift last night. I had friends text me last night and freak about her state of mind because of some of the imagery. Meanwhile, I’m sitting over here just about as starry eyed as I could possibly get. Let’s get something straight in the beginning. This album is not about her husband. This album is about black men in general and the ways that they expect black women to be ride or die yet they seem incapable of reciprocating the same behavior. This was also a requiem for the pain that her father caused her and her family when he decimated his marriage to Mrs. Tina.
This album was for black girls. Many of the people that will misinterpret it’s lyrics and imagery will not fall into that category. Almost all of the people in this video are black women. When Beyonce recites poetry in between the songs she is reciting words written by Warsan Shire, a black woman. When Beyonce takes an excerpt from Malcolm X she chooses his speech where he notates how abused black women are by society.
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.
The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.
The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
“Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?”
Beyonce is woke. People like to tear her down for wearing weaves or wigs and coloring her hair or being light skinned. However, nobody can say that this woman has not taken the time to educate herself on the plight of her people. In the video the families of victims of police can be seen holding portraits of their fallen.
Beyonce was one of the first celebrities to donate to Black Lives Matter and she bailed protesters out in Ferguson. She has black women of all hues in this film, not just the mixed light skinned loose curled girls that usually dominate media. Little girls from two black parent homes or with thick thighs don’t usually make it past video vixen. The way Beyonce uses black women of all shapes, sizes, and hues is inspired. This video was a love letter to little black girls who struggle to accept their Jackson Five noses with negro nostrils, and burn their baby hairs off trying to make their hair confirm to European notions of beauty. Beyonce gave us a gift, be grateful.