An Open Letter to Beyoncé
Jenna Caldwell | 4/26/16 12:05pm
| Updated 4/26/16 12:11pm
Dear Queen B,
I have put aside my cup of tea and I am sipping Lemonade from now on. What have we done to deserve the creative masterpieces that you grant us with time and time again? Your latest visual album is not only an artistic wonder, but an inspiration to many. You created an album fueled by the emotions you may (or may not) have felt during a time of marital distress. But you did not give us 12 tracks to lie in bed and cry over after discovering our boyfriend favorited another girl’s tweet (or potentially had an affair with a famous New York designer). Instead, you gave us your raw and real feelings. You showed us it was okay to feel in more than one way. Women should be able to express their emotions without the fear of being simply written off as “crazy.” We’ve all been asked “Are you on your period?” after showing a slight change in mood. No! I am human and I am allowed to feel.
And Lemonade is not just about allowing ourselves to feel and heal, but to celebrate our #BlackGirlMagic and remind us that black girls do indeed rock. Lemonade primarily features women of color including the noticeable faces of Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg, Serena Williams, Quvenzhane Wallis, Winnie Harlow and many more. The mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin appear as well, holding photos of their unlawfully-slain sons. This saddening moment reminds us that people of color need to stay in formation and overcome as we’ve done in the past and must continue to do.
In track three “Don’t Hurt Yourself” feat. Jack White, the music suddenly stops and we hear the speech of Civil Rights leader Malcolm X “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?”:
“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”
We watch as the camera captures a number of black women, young and old, united not only by their race, but the hatred that has come along with it. This scene in particular moved me, as I am also a young black woman who has grown up in a society where were we are taught to hate, reject and change the color of our skin, the texture of our hair, the way in which we speak, move, and exist. Beyoncé, you received a lot of backlash for your single “Formation” and a lot of it comes from simply reminding people that you are indeed black. I liked you before and I praise you now.
Through the collection of visual pieces, “Intuition,” “Denial,” “Anger,” “Apathy,” “Emptiness,” “Accountability,” “Reformation,” “Forgiveness,” “Resurrection,” “Hope” and “Redemption” Lemonade takes us on an emotional and remarkable journey.
In tracks “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Sorry” and “Hold Up,” you give us sassy and bold lyrics expressing your anger (through the use of a bat and middle fingers). The lyrics in “Don’t Hurt Yourself” presumably targeted towards Jay-Z read, “You can watch my fat a** twist, boy/ As I bounce to the next d**k, boy.” Beyoncé is the friend that will help you slash that not-so-special someone’s tires at 3:00 in the morning and will encourage you to date their best friend. I was even left giving a loved one major side-eye for simply existing. These are definitely 2016’s go-to break up and hit Ultra Bar (don’t go to Ultra Bar) songs.
And before, I could send that risky “let’s take a break” text message, the songs “Love Drought” followed by “Sandcastles” and “All Night” came on. Beyoncé, you remind us in a time where many of us are quick to cut someone off, forgiveness is still a viable option. In “All Night,” you sing, “I’ve seen your scars and kissed your crime.” Although, we all may have felt betrayed, neglected, cheated or hurt at some point in a relationship, after giving ourselves the chance to heal properly, we should consider giving loved ones second chances because as humans we are flawed.
To quote “For Women Who Are ‘Difficult’ to Love” as you did in your intro, “You are terrifying / and strange and beautiful / something not everyone knows how to love.” Not every guy is the guy, but when watching the final moments of Lemonade, and seeing the montage of the Carters, a seemingly happy loving family, enjoying the company of one another, it definitely makes each and every relationship worth fighting for.