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King Bey and Black Womanhood

Current Mental

King Bey and Black Womanhood

Simone Reynolds

As I sit in my small antique dorm in Charleston, Illinois, I reflect on my Blackness. I find myself doing this everyday in the same spot. Even when Taylor Swift is blasting across the hall, I still hear my analytical thoughts about Blackness and being a Black woman.

A couple of weeks ago, I felt extremely out of place. I needed to go into a space of belonging. I went to the campus library and analyzed a few sections of  the film, Lemonade. During my analysis, I noticed that the main focus was not on Jay Z’s infidelity but on the power of Black Womanhood. Beyoncé has influenced Black Womanhood in 2016 with her latest project. She creates a platform for Black female artist, promotes self-healing, and displays some of the issues Black women face with Black men.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Beyoncé is an advocate and supporter of marginalized women of color's artistry, especially those who specialize in literature and visual art. The use of poetry has a great impact on the film. According to Amanda Hess of the New York Times, Warsan Shire, a  British-Somali poet's verses are the "backbone" of Beyoncé's album. Warsan Shire's poems are featured in each section  of  the film.

Hess also mentions how Lemonade has opened doors for Warsan in pop culture. There is also a lot of use of imagery. Miriam Bale of Hollywood Reporter refers to Lemonade as a "womanist" fairytale-featuring American Southern, Voodoo, and Afrofuturist utopian imagery. This is shown during the songs 'Daddy Lessons', 'Don't Hurt Yourself', and 'Sorry'. Of course getting exposure from one of the biggest pop stars is great, but let's be clear. Self-healing is the root of it all. It is extremely fundamental to Black womanhood. The imagery of certain scenes are a reflection of self-healing. According to the scenes ‘Intuition’ and 'Reformation', Beyoncé promotes this a lot.

Photo by Lemonade Film

Photo by Lemonade Film

Beyoncé, along with a group of nine Black women dressed in all white, wade in the water as the sun sets. Miriam Bale mentions one of Beyoncé's "secret weapons", Julie Dash, the director of  'Daughters of the Dust', a film where women preserve the traditions of African culture in southern America. This scene symbolizes resistance with the use of the slave revolt.

The women are on the journey to drown themselves to end their misery of being hurt. The imagery of certain scenes are a reflection of self-healing. The words spoken also mirror self-healing. In the scene of ‘Denial’, Beyoncé says, “I fasted for 60 days, wore white, abstained from mirrors, abstained from sex, slowly did not speak another word”.  She encourages self care and spirituality to be tools of understanding. During this scene, she is under water.

Water symbolizes cleansing and purity. This proves that some Black women have always found a way to "fix" themselves in order to fix a relationship. Black women face a great amount of issues when it comes to relationships with Black men. Whether if it's their father, husband, or son, Black women have difficulties with them in different ways. Based on the scene 'Anger' , we can understand the difficulties Black women face in relationships with their male spouses or partners.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

During this scene, Beyoncé says and does some powerful things. It begins with a visual of Black women connected through the sleeves of their dresses swaying in different directions and intertwining with one another. This shows the transformation of compliance to rebellion. The women are transforming into the stage of anger and being "fed up". 'Anger' is directed towards "the other halves" of Black women. Beyoncé uses a voice over of Malcolm X saying, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.” She is putting emphasis on the disrespect Black women receive, and it is being said by a Black man. Tyler Goodridge of Georgetown's Communication, Culture, and Technology program, gives us "the tea". She talks about the repetitive pattern that is shown throughout history between Black women and men.

From the Civil Rights era to the Black Panther Party, and today's Black lives matter movement, Black women are always expected to love, honor, and protect Black men, but they do not receive that in return. In the scene 'Accountability', Beyoncé discusses her father teaching her how not to trust men through his own behavior. She says, “When trouble comes in town and men like me come around, my daddy said shoot”.  This means that Beyoncé's father warns her of men who will do her wrong, because he has done it before. Her father's actions of cheating on her mother are problematic yet helpful to her understanding of how Black women are treated by Black men. During the 'Resurrection' scene, we notice the familiar faces of the Black Lives Matter movement, the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

All three mothers are holding the photos of their deceased sons. The women's faces are very blank and stern. This shows us how Black women tend to be the ones who carry the burdens of Black death. Black women spend so much time building and nurturing their sons, and one day it all changes. Due to senseless police brutality, they are not able to continue to watch their sons grow.

All in all,  Lemonade has had a great impact on Black womanhood. Beyoncé has created a platform for Black women, promoted self-healing, and displayed the struggles of Black women's relationships with Black men. Towards the end, there is a little footage of Hattie White, Jay Z's grandmother's 90th birthday party. She says something very profound, which turns into a metaphor. Ms. Hattie says, "I was always served lemons, but I made lemonade." Black women have always been given the lemons of pain, but they always seem to make lemonade which is strength. Beyoncé has made such a great impact on Black womanhood. She continues to uplift and share the stories of Black women.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY