If you’ve read Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls, or seen the Tyler Perry film, you may have thought of it when you saw the last scene of Beyoncé’s piece of art.
I first saw a parallel between For Colored Girls and Lemonade on seeing the shot of Beyoncé sitting with Zendaya and the others on the front porch of a southern house. In this Hope section of the video, we see her surrounded by black women of different shades, age and body shapes wearing rainbow colours. In my mind, these colours echo the characters in Shange’s play. Both address different narratives exploring black women’s vulnerabilities.
Lemonade is the exploration of black female vulnerability that I didn’t know I needed nor deserved.
I have found myself much more outspoken in my appreciation of Queen Bey lately: the relevance of her work to black female empowerment is something I feel like I need to defend and fight tooth, baby hair and nails. The more voices rise against Beyonce’s ‘sudden’ advocacy for black female power, the more I am motivated to tell the world kindly that the ‘old’ Beyonce who used to sing universal lyrics is gone and they should just learn to deal with it.
After watching Formation, I did not know what to expect from Lemonade. But I was excited about the thought of seeing a piece of art dedicated to black women that would yet again benefit from her media power.
And there it was: Lemonade, a one-hour-long multi-genre musical and visual experience used to recount a black woman’s journey through vulnerability, hurt and redemption. Lemonade is the exploration of black female vulnerability that I didn’t know I needed nor deserved. Beyoncé did not have to sign Lemonade with any kind of dedication. As a black woman it is rare that I find anything to claim in mainstream culture, but Beyoncé’s Lemonade is a project me and my friends felt immediately entitled to.
The appropriation of Lemonade by black women has irked a feminist or two, but as it’s been said before: what is a pro-black woman is not anti-anyone. It is clear that the lyrics in Lemonade will resonate with anyone who has ever been cheated on. However her perspective is the perspective of a black woman and at the moment we are celebrating the opportunity of seeing our feelings accurately and entirely represented for once.
Love is not something many of us feel qualified for, and our attempts to seek it often painfully fall short.
In resonance with Shange’s work, Lemonade could have been renamed For Colored Girls who Have Considered Rage When Betrayal is Enuf. The film goes through the different stages on being deceived by a loved one and what it feels like… as a black woman.
Love is not something many of us feel qualified for, and our attempts to seek it often painfully fall short. Yet when they do, we pretend like it didn’t happen; we are used to hiding our feelings behind masks of resilience. After Intuition and Denial, the project takes a different route: it exposes the rage and the vulnerability that we are often denied to express. Lemonade is our remedy to bitterness: it is calling on us to let it out and stop bottling it all in to find the peace of mind we have been longing for.
The prospect that Beyoncé can be cheated on is not a reassuring one. What I find reassuring however, is that through Lemonade Beyoncé has not only shown the world what an angry black woman truly looks like, she has shown a black woman suffering, healing and forgiving. Lemonade is the unspoken truth of a black woman in love and fighting for it. It is a reality we have only seen in our own homes, and she has put it out there for ourselves and the rest of the world to see.