“lemonade” criticism is why black women need “lemonade”
Three days after the surprise release of Beyonce’s second visual album “Lemonade,” critics are still raving, calling it a “masterpiece,” “a work of art” and “black female spiritualism.” The Rolling Stone is calling the album a welcomed reminder that just days after Prince’s death, “giants still walk among us.”
But underneath these words of acclamation and praise lies a different tone of criticism. Though unlikely to be found in any major publication, it rings just as loud as the positive reviews found in The New York Times or Rolling Stone. Dripping with the very racism and misogyny Lemonade so pointedly addresses, such criticism is an unseemly reminder that although “giants” still walk among us, such power is an unwelcome force when it comes from a black woman.
Arguably, this reminder was first given to us in February, when Beyonce performed “Formation” at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Dressed in symbolic Black Panther attire, the singers performance paid homage to Malcolm X, while her unapologetic lyrics served as an unmistakable statement about ongoing racial tensions in America. The politically charged performance left viewers divided: While some praised it, others called it a blatant display of racism and accused the singer of inciting hatred against police.Despite her skin colour and gender, she is armed with a power she will neither apologize for, nor relinquish. Click To Tweet
But unbeknownst to us, Formation’s unabashed address of race in America would be mild in comparison to Lemonade, the hour-long visual album on which the single would eventually appear. Consisting of what can only be called Black Girl Magic, Lemonade is an unabashed, unashamed and defiant response to the many political, social and economic issues that haunt black women.
But Lemonade is also so much more. In essence, it’s the illustration of a black woman’s unexpected but beautiful evolution from entertainer to activist. It’s evidence the “old” Beyonce, known for her upbeat, sultry and sexy radio hits, has transformed into something much more complex and profound.
“The new Beyonce seems to be exploiting mothers of dead to sell albums and to be putting political activism ahead of being an entertainer.” – Piers Morgan
Unfortunately for some “fans,” this isn’t what they signed up for. Their disappointment is perhaps best articulated by British journalist Piers Morgan, who in an op-ed for the Daily Mail boldly states his preference for Beyonce when she was “less inflammatory and agitating,” before she put “political activism ahead of being an entertainer.”
The irony and hypocrisy of such words is almost laughable. While Lemonade specifically addresses the many pressures society places on black women to remain silent in the face of adversity (“I tried to change, close my mouth more. Tried to be soft, prettier. Less…awake.”), her critics use these very methods in an attempt to silence the singer.
Arguably, it’s this very reason why Beyonce sings of Freedom and Formation and so many black women join in.
At the height of her career, Beyonce has shown us she’s prepared to go back to her roots. While some call the shift exploitive and a publicity stunt, in actuality, it is one of the riskiest moves the entertainer will ever likely make. But without apology, she has done it and more importantly, she has succeeded.
She has proven that despite her skin colour and gender, she is armed with a power she will neither apologize for, nor relinquish.
A true “giant among us.”
But that’s just According to Adrienne.