February 23, 2016, Beyoncé revealed to the whole world that life had had the audacity to try her, giving her some lemons, for which she turned right back around and blessed us all with a taste of Lemonade, an hour long visual album streamed on HBO.
Beyoncé’s Lemonade was iconic, to say the least. It was a celebration of Black womanhood and the black female experience something that’s become stereotyped and bastardized within mainstream media (see the sassy black friend or the baby mama) all set to the lush visuals of a Southern Gothic. Lemonade highlighted black artistry from the poignant poetics of Warsaw Shire, the brilliant body art of Laolu Senbajo, to Beyoncé’s own mastery of genres outside her norm (rock, then country). The album reminded and revealed to us truths about American society: that black empowerment is still perceived as a threat via Fox New’s reaction to the Formation Super Bowl performance, that black women truly are the most disrespected person in America via Malcom X, and that whiteness isn’t a requirement for something to be successful via all of Lemonade’s achievements including a Peabody Award, a Grammy, and countless nominations.
The album unveiled thoughts and feelings within so many black women and girls including writers here at Affinity:
Tatyana, 17, Writer
Lemonade showed me the true magic of black women. As someone who wants to go into the industry, representation is very important to me. Lemonade not only shows the vulnerability of black woman but the strength we have to overcome it.
Nahbuma, 17, Writer
Lemonade was a breath of fresh air for me and hopefully other black girls too. It helped me rediscover myself in a completely different way. It helped me see that I’m not ever gonna be just a girl to everyone else, there’s always gonna be that “black” attached to it, and I’ve learned to love and live with that.
Hadiyah Cummings, 17, Writer
Lemonade showed me what being completely authentic and authentically Black looks like and that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. This album taught me to be proud of my kinky hair and to love with no boundaries. However, at this same time Beyoncé reminded me that not everyone is deserving of my love and that I as a Black woman am an invaluable part of this world. And that there is no amount of darkness or opposition that can contain the glow, the magic that is the Black Woman.
Ifueko Osatogiagbon, 18, Writer
For me, Lemonade was an inspiration showing me how you can use your talents to uplift others and how you should take the initiative to carve spaces for yourself if one isn’t readily available. Beyoncé really did that through this album, placing the black female experience into the forefront of music.
Ultimately, Lemonade was more than an album. Lemonade was a love letter and an affirmation to all black girls and women telling us that our pains, our fears do not make us weak but human, that our features – our hair, our lips all too often appropriated by and romanticized on non-black bodies – are our own and are beautiful backed by our black bodies. It showed us that our experiences and lives matter.