Beyoncé sure knows how to drop an album. She gave Lemonade to the world last weekend and everybody lined up for a glass. There have been a lot of comments and critics, and I couldn’t help but take a sip myself. I’ve watched the Lemonade visuals. I’ve listened to it, too, and I had to do both multiple times to digest it all. Lemonade is a lot of things. It is bittersweet. It is brazen. It’s bossy. It’s beautiful. And, as the world seemed to notice, it’s Black. The biggest take away for me, though? It’s my job, as a Black woman, to speak up – to scream if I have to – about whatever it is that needs to be addressed, no matter who runs away covering their ears.
Everyone doesn’t feel the way I do about Lemonade. Everyone isn’t happy about it, and I’m honestly not surprised. Piers Morgan seems to think she become a proud Black woman overnight, that her sudden pride is a sales pitch. On the other hand, a UK Singer named Jamelia points out that Beyoncé is Black, has been black her whole life, and that her art is reflective of the racially-charged times we’re in. While some of us were ecstatic, other people seemed almost, well, afraid. And I know why.
The world gets scared when people use their voices. Minorities. Women. Beyoncé happens to be both. Before this album, I think the world widely saw Bey as an entertainer, a celebrity. They did not see her as she sees herself – a Black woman. Why is it now scary that she does what she has always done, and sings about her reality? Why must her music now be a stretch to sell albums? Mrs. Carter is a lot of things. She is a minority, and she is a woman, but she is not desperate for money. God forbid a Black woman sing about what she sees in the world, and people hear it on a grand scale. Is it impossible that Beyoncé just wanted to be heard? Is it crazy to think she’s a Black woman and proud of it, that she’s tired of feeling stepped on in love, or seeing her people slain by law enforcement? It is possible that she is singing these words through stereos and TV screens because it feels like no one is listening?
I get it, though. If you are not Black, or not a woman, or both, the things we are facing now are pretty scary. They’re not things you want to think about. You don’t want them brought to your attention. But to celebrate Beyoncé when she is “Bootlylicious,” but not when she is Black Lives Matter, is to live in denial. And to say she is using her platform to share her experiences, solely for album sales? That’s just dismissive. These feelings are valid, and these things are happening. I’m a Black woman, too, though, so maybe I’m biased. I don’t care it it makes you uncomfortable. You need to stop denying it and deal with it, the same way I have to. Black people are proud – so proud of who we are – but we are perishing, and you have to stop pretending it isn’t happening. It’s here. It’s real. And we just want you to acknowledge it. Beyoncé had to speak up – all of us do – not for you to shrink away, but to step up and do something about it. All this attention on the matters at hand are great, but can we see some action? If nothing changes, we’ll keep talking. I know I will. I just hope one day we actually get heard.
So plenty of people will test out Lemonade and turn their faces up, claiming it’s too sour. Those of us who realize the times we’re in, and want them talked about? We keep getting right back in line. I guess, for some people, though, the truth is hard to swallow.