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Sweet Sweet Lemonade

 
Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that Beyoncé released a new album last Saturday. The album came out with an hour long movie on HBO as well. LEMONADE is a recollection of Beyoncé’s life: her struggle with her father, the issues in her relationship…you know, a reminder she’s human like us. But LEMONADE is more than her story, it is the struggle of the systematic oppression women of color face every day in the United States. It is the legacy that we have allowed to be built by anyone but us, as we try to tear it down from the inside of its borders. People like Azealia Banks have come out and bashed the album, calling it an antithesis to feminism and accusing Beyoncé of playing into the narrative of the black female suffering more and more. Although I see Banks’ point, I can’t help but wonder if it’s valid to discredit such a personal album simply because it plays into the larger stereotype of women of color, especially black women, have tried so hard to break apart from.
 

Azealia Banks’ critique of the album brings a bigger issue into light: are we really to discredit someone’s past just because it’s stereotypically outplayed? Our generation has become one that critiques everything to a point where someone’s past loses validation simply because it is the “broken record” of women of color. I understand that as millennials we have an itch to grow, to evolve, to see everything and anything as equal — to break from the chains of the narratives that have been set in place for us, but we cannot ignore that these stories still exist and will probably continue to exists for years to come. 

 

We also have to recognize that this is not the only narrative that exists for females of color — that of a broken home, abusive father, and unfaithful men.  But we cannot ignore that this still happens today and that it is the result of a much bigger system out of Queen B’s control. A system that although bases itself on politics and economics, creates the culture by which its victims live. I see Azealia’s critique of the album as unfair because it was a personal album for Beyoncé, and should be respected as a story of the past that has made her the strong woman she is today. 

 

Talking to a few people around campus, I have heard it mentioned that if Beyoncé were really as strong as I believe her to be, she would have been able to leave Jay-Z years ago. I think that being brave enough to trust him again and forgive him is stronger that anything I would be able to do. Some have also said that she could have focused on other aspects of her life, agreeing with Azealia’s critique that the album further perpetuates stereotypes. Beyoncé could have easily included other aspects of her life, but her family ties and long relationship to Jay-Z have a clear place in her heart. I don’t think she could have banged out 12 songs and a visual album if it didn’t, and we shouldn’t take that away from her art by saying that it is antifeminist, outplayed and outdated. Living and speaking by ‘what-ifs’ is neither productive nor useful. 

 

This album was not made for us, and it is a matter of respect from us as an audience to be let into her personal corner of insecurities, one that might have grown smaller and smaller while she was writing these songs. At least I like to believe that’s how it went. 

 

The fact of the matter is that Beyoncé’s LEMONADE has a significant cultural undertone that a lot of people have overlooked or masked by focusing on other things, like Becky. Beyoncé’s new album is a call to action for all women of color to break away from the narrative that has slowly bound us together to a point of asphyxiation; it is a way of showing that we can embrace our dysfunctional realities while at the same time being able to break free from them. A “yin and yang” of sorts, where we take what society has fostered our lives to become and how we take that story and make it our own, and how we grow from our histories. 

 

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Ithaca College 2018 • Journalism • International PoliticsI am from the Colombia and the Dominican Republic, have a love for monograms and monochromes. Black is my essence but greys are ok too. http://www.thepucsh.com 
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