On Saturday Beyonce released her new visual album, Lemonade, and it’s already being lauded as her most transparent work yet. Although it’s described on Tidal as “based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing”, many are speculating that it is an indictment of husband Jay-Z’s infidelities. While Beyonce’s camp was silent after the infamous ‘elevator incident’ of 2014, which saw protective younger sister Solange giving Jay‑Z a full on beat down, fans are connecting dots and concluding that the “Becky” with “good hair” mentioned on Lemonade is responsible. Add to the mix designer Rachel Roy’s messy Instagram photo captioned “good hair don’t care” shortly after Lemonade’s release, and the case seems to be clear.
For many black women Beyonce represents an unattainable standard of wealth, beauty, fame and prestige. We are proud of her and see ourselves in her, even as we struggle against the very standard that elevates her while slighting us for being too dark, too poor, not curvy enough or not talented enough. In the past Beyonce has hinted that she, too, struggles with this standard. In 2013 she sang “Pretty Hurts”, and in 2016 she declared that she loves her Negro Nose and Blue Ivy’s afro. But with Lemonade, Beyonce completely banishes the idea that she is an untouchable. In publicizing her own humiliation and disappointment, she connects with black women who too often experience infidelity and emotional abuse at the hands of the men around them.
Our own Lisa Jean-Francois spoke poignantly about this;
someone in my facebook group asked why Beyonce revealed so much of her marital business in ?#?lemonade?. My answer:
I can understand the need for privacy, but i think Beyonce knows she’s no longer her own person. She’s become so much more than a wife and owes so much more to the world than holding jay-z’s secrets. I think when you speak the truth there is nothing that can harm you. Nothing. if their relationship doesn’t survive this, what can she say but, “I told the truth.” Far too often, in black culture, we keep things secret in an effort to protect and we can say we are protecting “our families,” when in truth we are often protecting the men in our lives. When a girl is raped in black families, by a man in the family, how often is she made to then sit across from him at thanksgiving dinner? We keep quiet, but who benefits from our silence? When ebony magazine released the cover of cosby with the shattered glass across his face, black people were pissed. how dare “we” “air our dirty laundry” to the world? The reality is life is dirty. Marriage can be ugly. And women get hurt. We, black women, are not soldiers. It’s time we let the armor down and show what’s real. and what better way to do so than this album? She has this plaftorm, and she owes it to the world and to herself to use her talent to 1. heal herself and 2. change the way in which the world perceives black women. We are complex, we are flawed, but we are not work mules. fucking you, cooking for you, birthing your children, and keeping your secrets?!
And yet, a solemn moment of humanization for black women was quickly seized upon by many black men as an opportunity for public humiliation.
The deep, deep misogyny in these tweets is, in some ways, exactly what Lemonade is about — the notion that black women should be complacent in the face of constant humiliation. Hopefully all these men will get a sound social media dragging, because enough is enough.