by Dom Jones
Beyoncè’s new album has obviously set social media on fire. Besides the sudden and tragic death of musical icon, Prince, it’s all anyone has been talking about. The questions are far from a whisper, even the non-Beehivers are chattering: Did Jay-Z cheat on Beyoncè? Is that why Solange tried to take him out in the elevator? Was “Becky with the good hair” Rachel Roy or Rachael Ray? Why were some parts so weird? While I think that all of these questions are kind of ridiculous, the last one is what irks me the most. Laden with symbolism and thick with representation of the black struggle (specifically of black women), it seems as though some parts have gone right over people’s heads. Rather than inquire as to their meaning, these parts are being dismissed as weird, which is actually another struggle of black women illuminated in the video: dismissal and neglect.
One of the first parts that I’ve heard people talk about is when Beyoncè is going through the house filled with water, eventually emerging in a yellow dress, where she proceeds to happily/angrily beat everything in her path with a bat. While obviously this hasn’t been confirmed, many are saying that this part represents the Yoruba Goddess Oshun. The Yoruba religion, comprising the traditional religious concepts and practices of the Yoruba people is found primarily in southwestern Nigeria, but practiced by people of the African Diaspora worldwide. Beyoncè referencing Oshun is befitting as her visual does make several references to the history of the Diaspora before and after the Middle Passage. This could have been her nod to African spirituality, and how it has evolved over time, as well as how that spirituality relates to the power femininity, an obviously central theme in Lemonade… but it’s not weird. It’s a thing that exists that maybe you didn’t know about. You do now.
She also included the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown in the video. While the reasoning behind this was clear to me, maybe it hasn’t been for others. If the central theme of the video was black femininity, struggle, and pain, then what better way to illuminate that than to feature three women whose sons have been brutally murdered by police, with no consequences for those who ended their lives? The pain, struggle, resilience and triumph in this video was so much deeper and more meaningful than a woman whose husband cheated on her. To reduce it to that, calling every other element “weird,” is to simply drive home her point. Using an excerpt of a Malcolm X speech in Lemonade, we heard:
“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.”
If there are portions of Beyoncè’s video that you do not understand, I urge you to do your research, because there’s so much more to it than a cheater and a woman scorned.
HAVE YOU WATCHED LEMONADE? WHAT DID YOU THINK? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!