“When life hands you lemons….”
Black women have always had the innate ability to make lemonade from the sorrows that life brings. Beyoncé’s Lemonade is about that shared aptitude moreso than marriage struggles, inequality and police brutality. Although each of those themes is core to the feature, they are not problems that cannot be overcome.
I have watched Lemonade three times over the span of three days. The first time I watched it, I cried. I cried as I watched Beyoncé break car windows and lament over her unborn children. I cried as the mothers of those who have been slain and daughters of those who have passed held up pictures depicting the men important in their lives. I cried so much, the earth seemed to shake and the Nile River overflowed with my tears.
The second time I watched Lemonade I laughed. I laughed so heartily that my cheeks were sore throughout the rest of the day. I laughed at the audacity with which someone can desecrate his or her marriage. I laughed at the invisibility of black women and how we are not seen unless we are angry. I laughed at how some black men treat black women, even though someone was birthed from a black woman’s hips in their bloodline. I laughed and laughed all the way to class.
By the third time I watched Lemonade my tears had subsided and my jowls no longer shook with laughter. Instead of sorrow or anger, a kindred spirit awakened. As I passed other black women in my day-to-day life, I couldn’t help but wonder if they felt the same way I did when I watched Lemonade.
Did they too feel empowered by “Sorry”? Did they want to scream in frustration and elation when they heard “Freedom”? Did they too want to smash up some shit with a baseball bat?
Beyoncé’s Lemonade touched on so many motifs that it can be difficult to pinpoint a main theme. Mainstream media has largely written the album off as a conviction of Jay-Z and his alleged infidelity. However, it is important not to be misled.
Lemonade symbolizes Beyoncé’s second birth—her baptism. Beyoncé has reconnected to her roots and from that recoupling comes a story of a black woman and her insecurities, the trials of love and marriage and the meaning of black femininity in America.
Too many times, black women have been told that we should not let our race be such an important aspect in our daily lives—that we place too much emphasis on the fact that we are black. As long as we are not calling attention to our race, and the inherent struggles that plague us, we are OK by America’s standards.
As long as we are not “awake,” we can continue to fly by, undetected and “unbothered.” Lemonade challenges those canons put in place long before this generation’s arrival. It is time for us to sit up, stand up and be awoken.
Lemonade affirms that it is okay to be angry, apathetic and sad. It is okay to defy what we have been told we have to be. Lemonade tells us that we do not have to be sorry for being black or that we don’t have to wish for “good hair.”
When someone throws lemons at you, grab them and make the tallest, tartest, most delectable pint of lemonade and enjoy it.