When life gives Beyonce lemons, she makes… art. Once we recognize that the intricacies of Bey and Jay’s relationship is really none of our business, we can move onto devouring the larger meanings served up in Lemonade.
Here are 4 lessons you probably missed:
1. Telling our story and our truth is powerful and brave.
Every promise don’t work out that way. (Sandcastles)
We learn that even the most powerful women have feelings and challenges too. The lyrics in Lemonade are raw and emotional. As Beyonce sets many truths free, she gives us all permission and the “liquid courage” to do the same. It is a misconception that strength resides in keeping everything to yourself. Sharing our experiences is what unites us and inspires us. It is the core of sisterhood. The most powerful thing we can do sometimes is say, “I’ve been there” or “me too.”
We can’t have love without some work. We can’t have joy without knowing sadness. We can’t have strength without trials and tribulation. Beyonce reminds us that vulnerability is a requisite for badassery… and she makes it look damn good.
2. Perspectives that build us up and tear us down are generational. It’s up to us what we do with it.
I was served lemons but I made lemonade. (Hattie White in Freedom)
From institutionalized racism to the passed down messages in Daddy Lessons, we are reminded that our perspectives and the perspectives of others are often deep rooted. We can recognize that we are still fighting battles that our ancestors were fighting.
In breaking free and rising in the face of racism and sexism, it’s important to have self-awareness of where our automatic thoughts that bind us stem from. Evolving means both embracing and unlearning what has been instilled in us since we were young.
The mothers of young men such as Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown glare directly into the camera and into our hearts — begging us to take responsibility and ownership for change. Beyonce is expressing she will not be silent, even in the face of criticism and misunderstanding, and neither should we.
3. Art is art. If it is considered provocative and controversial, it’s doing its job.
Motivate your ass call me Malcolm X. (Don’t Hurt Yourself)
When Formation was revealed during the Superbowl, I wondered if Jay-Z got the same attacks when 99 Problems (detailing experiences with police) came out. I think the problem is that society, especially white culture, has put Beyonce in a box. A box she has never been in. Beyonce is an artist. Her art is the intersection of culture, storytelling, and emotion. Last I checked, change always has come from someone who was doing something that stood out and was revolutionary.
4. Roots are to be preserved.
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros. (Formation)
Everything we have is the result of the blood, sweat and tears of generations that have come before. Beyonce infuses Lemonade with the resiliency of African American women. She illustrates, “you simply can’t f%#* with us.” She rejects the pressure to conform to society’s expectations or stereotypes of being a woman or a mother. She honors her femininity and female empowerment in the same breath.