“You remind me of my father, a magician. Able to exist in two places at once.”
I was barely three minutes into Lemonade and already craving more. But I could not have possibly imagined the vulnerability that was yet to come throughout the remainder of the HBO premiere of Bey’s visual album. I watched it to the very end, engrossed in both the imagery and the sonic overload of the hour-long exclusive.
I was unable to verbalize how it made me feel while watching. I watched it a second time only to realize halfway through that the feelings evoked by the visuals were the all-too familiar combination of anger, disappointment, embarrassment and hurt. From the wrath and pleasure radiating from her body in “Hold Up”, to the façade of carefree indifference in “Sorry”, and finally the wounded content of “Freedom”, Lemonade captured the type of raw, unspoken pain that, for many, has all but cemented itself in the Black girl experience. But Beyoncé took it further and placed it front and center.
The words from Warsan Shire’s beautiful Black Womanist poetry took me back to darker times where feelings of inferiority and heartbreak seemed as though they would never release me from their grasps. But then they took me right back to the times in which they did and left me free to revel in all of my Carefree Black Girl glory.
I saw and felt my experiences in this emotion-filled album, but also that of my mother’s, and her mother’s as well. Beyoncé’s focus on the messages, experiences, and “lemons” that have been handed down from mother to daughter since the dawn of time reverberated throughout the album. The generational pain of making yourself smaller and giving every last bit of your love to a man, whether husband or father, in hopes that it’ll keep him from breaking you when we all know that it never does.
The power in knowing that even at your most broken, you can still shake the earth, and even at your most constricted you are still freer than free. The sting of accepting that, despite this, you’d still give your love to him all over again.
Bey even featured the mothers of slain Black people in this game-changing visual experience. When I saw Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, on the screen and realized that the anguish in her eyes seemed to be the same as the day her son was extrajudicially murdered, I wanted to scream.
But such is the life of a Black girl, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Beyoncé for having the courage and will to speak life into such a beautiful and agonizing plight. Our plight.
You can download the new album entitled Lemonade on Tidal right now.
Image via Youtube