Like a good portion of the world, last week I witnessed the amazing that is Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Advertised as a “visual album,” Lemonade premiered as an hour-long special on HBO, which coincided with the audio release of her sixth studio album of the same name on Tidal, the streaming platform owned by husband Jay-Z. Like her previous album, the self-titled Beyoncé, Lemonade is a continuation of her open and deeply personal exploration of womanhood, motherhood, Blackness, and the musical roots that drive and inspire. It is also a very blatant statement about the struggle of black women framed within Beyoncé’s internal battle with Jay-Z’s infidelity.
Visually and audibly, there is no separation between the personal and the political as Beyoncé reads the work of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, wears the Yoruba body art of Laolu Senbanjo, and, through a variety of directors, cinematographers, and designers, celebrates and honors black womanhood. If you don’t feel your heart break when the camera lingers on the faces of Sybrina Fulton, Lesley McSpadden, and Gwen Carr – mothers of police brutality victims Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner respectively – as they hold pictures of their slain sons, then I don’t know what will crack that piece of stone in your chest. The film is striking, poignant, and like Sasha, fierce as shit. The music is similarly so as we take the heroine’s journey from betrayal to forgiveness and the emotional spectrum in between.
But I’m not going to review the album or the film. I can’t and I won’t because, as I’ve been told through various sources on the internet, this isn’t about me. Yes, I can enjoy Beyoncé’s work, but there are elements of her struggle and the struggle of black women that I will never experience. It would be disingenuous to make blatant statements about the universality of Lemonade or how it “transcends race” or some other such bullshit because it categorically isn’t true. Lemonade is about black women and I am not a black woman.
However, I’d like to think I’m an ally and the least I can do is spread the word about Lemonade and its many think pieces as far and as wide as possible. So here is a compilation of articles I’ve found that deserve your attention. They aren’t ranked and they’re in no particular order, so please give them some of your time and consideration and don’t hesitate to provide more links to articles.
- Sydney Gore, “‘Lemonade’ is a Love Letter From Beyoncé to Black Women” via Nylon
- Syreeta McFadden, “Beyoncé’s Lemonade is #blackgirlmagic at its most potent” via The Guardian
- Miriam Bale, “Critic’s Notebook: Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ is a Revolutionary Work of Black Feminism” via The Hollywood Reporter
- Naila Keleta-Mae and Anupa Mistry, “Beyoncé Speaks Directly to the Black Mainstream with LEMONADE“ via The Fader
- Regina Bradley and dream hampton, “Close to Home: A Conversation About Beyoncé’s Lemonade” via NPR
- Angela Bronner Helm, “Lemonade: A Searing Ode to Grown Black Womanness” via The Root
- Morgan Raymore, “What Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” Means to Young Black Women” via Feminist Culture
- Vrinda Jagota, “Beyoncé’s Lemonade is about so much more than Jay-Z cheating on her” via SheKnows
- Yohana Desta, “Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ is a powerful tribute to black girls everywhere” via Mashable
- Jazmine Joyner, “Art: A Review of Beyoncé’s Visual Album Lemonade” via BlackGirlNerds
- Gabby Beshadu, “Finding Life After Abuse With Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade'” via The Establishment
- Flose Boursiquot, “I got ‘LEMONADE’ all on my lips” via Blavity
- Dominique Matti, “Why Lemonade Is For Black Women” via Medium