The Beyhive, the fans of Beyoncé, say Lemonade is ‘Beyoncé’s evolution as an intersectional feminist and her identifying with blackness and Civil Rights. So Bey is ‘woke’. She has come a long way from saying ‘It is not about colour or race.’ Or has she? I say Beyoncé, is the zeitgeist princess of pop, for her, social movements are about being relevant and ‘the Benjamins’. While I appreciate that celebrity can bring social causes to the fore, commoditization of social movements takes the impetus from people power and places in the hands of the very establishment which is in need of change.
Lemonade has been created as a movie album and as a music album. Of the 12 songs, 10 are about a woman who is dealing with a cheating man. It is apolitical, aside from Freedom and Formation, the only political(ish) single, Bey has ever performed. There are no lyrics which directly address the killing, sex, race, educational, work or host of social injustices that confront black people.
The movie album has cut-aways to political speeches and civil rights issues from third parties. These are not part of the music album. The backdrop of civil rights and cultural identities are created with an Afrofuturism (fantasy) feel rather than playing out historical fact.
The song Formation is not about civil rights, but Bey saying she is black(ish), from humble(ish) origins, works hard, is rich and she ‘slays’. I have ignored any sexual connotations. Bey reminds us that she is a racial mix of Creole (African and European) and Negro (African). Fortunately, America makes life easy, one drop of African blood makes you black. The Black Panther Party used the same premise to stop the white establishment from dividing African peoples by colour to control them.
The live performance of Formation included Black Panther symbolism. A potent symbol of the Panthers was the afro. Spot Bey in the photo above? She is the one not sporting an afro, not even a blonde ‘fro.
Black women’s natural hair has long been a political issue for which we have been stigmatised and demonised. Bey has even made reference to this in Formation. So when a long haired blonde Bey is leading black beret wearing afro-haired women, I am confused by the information.
The Formation video uses civil rights visuals but does not reflect transgender rights, though it owes much to the creative genius of Big Freedia. While we devour the creativity of black transgender people, their murders are regularly ignored. What an opportunity for Bey to have shown her civil rights credentials but such a stance would involve personal risk. Bey’s social conscience rides on the crest of the wave already feeding into the mainstream not on being ground-breaking.
Choking On Lemonade
It is okay to be a Bey fan; I have all her albums but let us be honest about who she is. Woke and feminist are not it. Pretending otherwise detracts from the politics of the social movements and makes them a commodity with a sell by date.
Bey is an outstanding entertainer. Lemonade includes good pop songs, and her performances of Formation are exciting. However, Lemonade has rewarded alleged adultery, commoditised black politics, culture and feminism. It has placed women in the grateful position, where ‘bitches bow down’. No wonder I’m choking on lemonade!
Part one being Feminist