When LEMONADE Isn’t Sweet Enough

LEMONADE is a celebration of Black Girl Magic and empowerment that people who are here for those things all enjoyed.  Except for when they didn’t.  What ablemons-960804_1920out when parental strife triggers someone to see the entire narrative from the eyes of Blue Ivy?

For some, Bey’s conclusion including redemption for her husband didn’t leave them with warm fuzzy feelings.  They were left with feelings that the example of staying with someone who hurts or abuses you emotionally by infidelity or other means as noble is dangerous.  In a culture of “women who stay”, was the entire “Who the f*** do you think I is?” totally negated when Jay-Z laid himself at Bey’s ankles and received her redemptive embrace at the conclusion of the visual album?

My view is that LEMONADE was a work of performance art rife with allegory, and that we don’t know much beyond what the artist chose to show us.  I know realistically that marriages endure infidelity, and that the choice to stay or to go is deeply personal.  This is Bey’s story (as she chooses to share it) and I cannot and would not attempt to comment on her relationship.  But does her choice to create art which is wildly attractive to black women make her “choice to stay” in the video up for debate?  Is that a narrative that his helpful or harmful?

While pondering this, I was left thinking about some of my favorite moments in LEMONADE.  Near the conclusion of the visual album during the chapter titled Resurrection, a group of black women came together in a space that almost looked like a commune.  Women at a communion-like table, sharing a meal.  Women in a family photo.  Women harvesting vegetables from the Earth.  Women sitting together on a stoop, looking out united in solidarity.  Lovely and loving scenes of family and community that was an all female space.  This was just as much a family as the portrait of the nuclear family consisting of husband, wife and Baby Blue.  Perhaps that while Bey sang to us in the Sandcastles track that “every promise don’t work out that way” about the imperfection of marriage, that she realized the importance of a female tribe no matter what goes on with the man in her life.  I’m inclined to quote the wisdom of Charlotte from the gospel according to Sex and the City:

Don’t laugh at me, but maybe we could be each other’s soul mates. Then we could let men be just these great, nice guys to have fun with.

I’m left with two conclusions: 1. We all have privilege and vulnerabilities that we walk with.  My family privilege and personal views on relationships make me see art through my own lens, while others saw it through a totally different one and 2. That art makes people talk, feel things, challenge things, share things.  This is what LEMONADE is doing for people in a very accessible way, which is awesome, but also requires us to enter these conversations with equanimity.

Grace and Love. ❤



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