How Beyonce's 'Lemonade' Exposes Inner Lives of Black Women

general article writing


How Beyonce's 'Lemonade' Exposes

Inner Lives of Black Women

History-reclaiming visual album offers new tools to see and be seen

Lemonade continues Beyoncé Knowles' longstanding engagement with black Southern

regionalism. The video album writes black women back into national, regional and diasporic

histories by making them the progenitors and rightful inheritors of the Southern gothic

tradition. Beyond "strong" and "magic," Lemonade asserts that black women are alchemists and

metaphysicians who are at once of the past, present and future, changing and healing the

physical, chemical and spiritual world around them. Rihanna uses her "glitter to make [your

shit] gold," Erykah Badu compels men to "change jobs and change gods" and Janelle Monáe's

Cindi Mayweather is secretly leading the Android Revolution. But Beyoncé accounts for the

method behind black women's alchemy. Traversing genre and space, she fundamentally

transforms the Southern platitude about what one should do when life hands her lemons.

Part of black women's magic, born of necessity, has been the ability to dissemble: to perform

an outward forthrightness while protecting our inner, private lives and obscuring our full

selves. We have drawn on this culture of dissemblance, as Northwestern University historian

Darlene Clark Hine has called it, to deflect physical and discursive violence, cultivating rich

inner lives that play out behind the enduring walls of Jim Crow. Beyoncé rejects any magic

predicated on constraint with Lemonade, a meditation on the process of becoming a black

woman in a society in which black women matter the least, are "the mule of the world" and are

the most disrespected, neglected, and unprotected. Through the metaphor of lemonade — the

South's other cold drink, sweet tea's antithesis and sometimes nemesis, but perhaps its best

collaborator — Beyoncé insists on alternative forms of inner magic that demand emotional

disclosure for healing, wholeness and a freer kind of freedom.

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