Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Black American Women’s Reader

A lot of people have already written about Lemonade, Beyoncé’s groundbreaking work that highlighted the unique struggles that Black women face.

I’m not going to be one of them.

As a white woman, I am not the intended audience and will never experience the misogynoir  that Black American women content with on a daily basis. In light of this, why would my voice add anything to the conversation?

Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of articles, essays, videos, and podcasts of African American women sharing their thoughts, critiques, and reactions to Lemonade. 

Articles

Zandria F. Robinson analyses Lemonade‘s Southern gothic, historical and cultural context, as well as noting that the album

concerns itself with legitimating and creating space for a range of black women’s emotions, pushing back against the generational curse of hurt patriarchs and unrelenting state actors who refuse to stop hurting the women and girls who sacrifice the most and love them best.

Brittany Spanos shines a light on Beyoncé’s connection to rock, and the black women in its history.

Tiffanie Drayton criticizes explicit, and implicit colourism in the “Formation” music video and Beyoncés Superbowl performance, while also recognising that one woman alone “cannot represent the full complexity of the black experience. Nor should she be expected to.”

Expanding on the above, scholar Yaba Blay writes about her experiences as a New Orleanian, dark-skinned black woman, and how Beyoncé’s celebration of her creole heritage harkens to antiblackness and colourism.

Essays

bell hook’s Moving Beyond Pain takes a more critical view, stating that

No matter how hard women in relationships with patriarchal men work for change, forgive, and reconcile, men must do the work of inner and outer transformation if emotional violence against black females is to end. We see no hint of this in Lemonade. If change is not mutual then black female emotional hurt can be voiced, but the reality of men inflicting emotional pain will still continue (can we really trust the caring images of Jay Z which conclude this narrative).

DrMyrtleMean’s essay on Therecipeforecstacy.com sees Lemonade in terms of death, and mourning – but also a rebuilding and consolidation of community and family.

It is time to wake up and open your eyes to the reality ofloss. She is not just talking about her personal losses but the losses of the  African American community.  She introduces the injustices perpetrated against young Black men and references the devastation of a Black community with images of the Stadium where people sought refuge after Hurricane Katrina. (pain, images of death)

DrMyrtleMean’s note about the importance of men in Beyoncé’s healing is reminiscent of bell hook’s The Will to Change.

She also speaks to his (the Black man and Jay Z’s)  ability to facilitate her growth. He is magical again. He has the ability to heal her instead of deceive her. He can make her insecurities invisible.  They will love openly for the world to see. But the world will be absent to them. They will again make sweet love All Night long.

Videos

Seren’s (aka Sensei Aishitemasu) free-form vlog discusses her emotional response to the Lemonade film, its imagery, and reminds her audience of Beyoncé’s humanity and life portrayed through her art.

ceedotceeTV’s review sees Lemonade in terms of a cheating partner, and breaks it down by each section, and song.

Ashley Miller’s album review looks at Beyoncé’s musical development, and possible connections between Lemonade and her personal life.

Podcasts

The Unfriendly Black Hotties’ episode LemonSLAYED is an hour-long discussion of their favourite looks, what impacted them the most, and cultural conversations about Lemonade.

Black Girls Talking’s bonus episode on Lemonade declares a state of Beymergency.

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