After watching the Lemonade visual album on Tidal or HBO last night, I'm sure we can all agree that Lemonade is as black as the video for "Formation" and is yet another love letter to black girls. As the SNL skit about white America's online response to "Formation"points out, Beyoncé has always been black, but in 2016 her videos have been like, "Black girls? Hey girl heeeey! I see you!" I'm here for it. I know y'all didn't miss the Malcolm X audio from his speech where he says,
"The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman."
If you disagree with that quote, or Beyoncé's use of the quote, or don't get why that's important to her fans or fans of this project or just important in general, then Lemonade is just not for you and that's ok. Everything is not for everybody. Yes, the themes in Lemonade are universal, but based on the visuals, this is for us. But y'all can come too, though.
I don't know if Lemonade was inspired by Beyoncé's own experience, her mom's experience or the shared experiences of women in committed relationships who have survived infidelity, but it's definitely about black love and the survival of black love in concert with female self-love and self-preservation. It's a different message from what we usually hear when infidelity threatens to end a committed relationship. We know all the songs about leaving and being strong and independent. Beyoncé sang most of them. We often leave with brokenness and having lost some of our sanity, trust in love and maybe in ourselves. Beyoncé has a few years of marriage and motherhood under her garter belt and she is sharing real wisdom in Lemonade.
Last weekend, I attended my first ever sleep away camp. Rather than rehash everything to you guys, I'll just share with you the letters I wrote to my mom from camp. Yes, I'm almost forty, but what's sleep away camp without letters home to mom?
My first day at sleep away camp at Camp Connect was awesome. The thought of spending two nights and half a day tucked into Texas Hill Country without my husband or son or laundry or grocery lists or Kidz radio, alone was enough to say yes when I was invited to attend as compensation for telling you and my friends all about it. The drive to Lonehollow is breathtaking. When I got to the part of the drive where I was surrounded by lush green hills and had no cell phone reception, I was grateful for satellite radio. I think most of my life is like a dark, comedic, independent film, and when Luka Bloom started to sing Diamond Mountain on Coffeehouse radio on Sirius XM, and all I saw in front of me was a two lane road ducking in and out of hills of treetops all around me, I decided that was the intro to my film. That was where the overstressed almost forty stay-at-home mom escaping her everyday life in the suburbs drives through a beautiful countryside passing through small towns with charming shops and poppy fields, while sad, melancholy music plays and the credits roll and the song ends just as she reaches the entrance to the women's retreat revealing Narnia beyond the gate. Camp Connect at Lonehollow is Narnia for grown ladies.
Today, I've been married fifteen years to the person I started dating twenty years ago. That's a long time. I can't think of anybody else who could deal with all the versions of myself that I've grown through since he met me when I was 18, but if I don't know anything else, I know he loves me. He's not perfect. Lord knows I'm not, although I am right about everything way more often than he is...so maybe I'm a little closer to perfect. He's my headache and my heartbeat. It's nice to love this way and to be loved.
I use to blog about our anniversary every year. Six years ago, on our nine year wedding anniversary, I wrote this on my old blog...
" [Being married nine years is] like a pair of jeans. You know how you buy them because they fit perfectly and they make your butt look cute and then you settle into them and they get kinda stretched out and might even sag a little bit over time and then get too tight if you put on a few pounds or are bloated,and sometimes they don't fit, but you keep them in the closet and try them on all the time until they do fit again and they might even get a hole in the knee because of all the wear, but you wear them all the time anyway because even though they don't fit the same way, you feel just as cute in them and, most importantly, they still make your butt look cute? That's what nine years of marriage is like. My marriage is comfortable and familiar and although it's not as perfect as it seemed to be when it was new, my butt still looks cute in it."
You can read the full post here.
Today, after fifteen years as a wife, and eight years as a mom, it's time for a new analogy. From my perspective, of course.
Marriage is like a tandem bungee jump. You get strapped to another person crazy enough to do it with you. The highs are really high and the lows are really low. You alternate between screaming in ecstasy and screaming in pain, to recording it on a GoPro strapped to your helmet to share on social media because your jump is going to somehow be different and cooler and more stylish and maybe even better than the millions of tandem jumpers before you, to wondering what in the entire fugg you were thinking doing this stupid jump in the first place. The lows and highs eventually balance out and you find yourself hanging in there together. When people ask you how it was you tell them it was fun, because it was fun. You're so glad you did it and look back at the photos and videos often and your heart and your mouth smile at the memories. You're grateful for the experience. You feel proud to have done it. Lucky even. But you know these intense experiences are once in a lifetime kinda things. Because as awesome as it is to be there one hundred percent for another person who is also there for you, it takes so much work at times to hold on. Especially if you're the one carrying the camera. It will save you if you hold on to each other, but it's exhausting. And even if the opportunity presents itself, most likely, you will never do it again.
Seconds time's gonna be a charm! I feel it down in my shondo. I'm planting a million different things in three 4x4 square foot gardens. This time around, everything is going into the ground as seeds Plants and beneficial flowers will be growing up altogether. It's going to be glorious. It's almost too simple to load boxes up with dirt and organic compost and grow actual edible things, but it's actually quite that simple. Here are some pics of the process so far.
I'll post an update when seeds become green things!
We're trying to decide on our next international travel destination. My mom goes with us when we travel. She rooms with my son. Everybody is in heaven.
Yesterday, I texted my mom and asked her if she wanted to go to Thailand with us this fall. She kept sending me these short responses that were basically different ways of saying no. When she texted me back, "Don't feel it" I realized I wasn't getting anywhere with her. I'm not use to that. Actually, it's pretty unacceptable. So I called. She kept saying she was scared of terrorism and I kept giving her reasons not to be. Right before my phone died I was like, momma, fear is not of God, it's of the devil. Ain't that in the bible? We both hollered laughing because the bible is not my thing, but it's totally her life. Then she was like, you bringing up The Word, I'mma keep on saying no so you can keep quoting the bible. 😂 I was like, what "stripture" is that? I know it's in The Word. Died laughing. Then my phone died. I was like, boooooo!--interrupting my laughs with my momma. Hmph. Bummed.
When I got home and charged my phone, she had texted me. Our exchange made me smile.
I think I'm winning her over.
Sometimes I be thinking...
Why are racist people racist? Like, what did Africans ever do to deserve being kidnapped from our Mother, brought to a stolen land, enslaved, set free and then hated for breathing. If anybody should be mad, it should be us! Like, we didn't ask to be here. We never sought revenge for slavery. Our fight has always, only been to be treated decently and justly. To make the most of being here. To make oppressed lemonade out of ex-slave lemons. Where's the sympathy? But I guess sympathy for humans is too much to ask from slavers. Sometimes I wonder what kind of world this would have been if they really had put us and all our genius and inventions and innovations and beauty and original spiritual practices on ships back to Africa after slavery ended, and stayed out of Africa and didn't exploit it's natural resources. I wonder sometimes. There are people who actually hate us just for existing. I will never understand why humans treat other men, women and children this way. At least it's mostly illegal for racists to kill black people. Unless they join a police force or stand their ground or whatever. So there's that.
"It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important." Martin Luther King, Jr.
I got a notification on my phone (all card-carrying Beyhive members did) when Beyoncé's video dropped. My best friend was in town visiting and we sat huddled together to watch the Formation video on my iPhone. Every few lines we looked at each other and said, "This is SO black!" and when it was over said, "Thank you, Beyoncé."
This morning I was standing up in my kitchen with my Whitehaven Memphis self in these nice upper-middle class Austin suburbs, frying these organic grass-fed beef hotdogs in coconut oil for my baby, whom I like with baby hair and afros, looking at my man, whom I like with Jackson Five nostrils. I don't have hot sauce in my bag, but I do have hot sauce in my bag swag. And now I have a sixteen-count that's like a mirror to my life to sing while I do the iSlay dance in my kitchen...whilst frying these hot dogs. My husband shook his head at me because he's a hater, but I guarantee he liked seeing me dancing and touching and celebrating his unmistakable blackness and big nose (which he and anyone who knows my preferences knows has historically been a basic requirement for any guy I was attracted to because I love a perpetually flared nostril). She gave me a new way to flirt with and build up my husband! Gee, thanks, Beyoncé!
People get so mad when black people say three-cheers-for-back-people as if encouraging our own selves is a backhand slap to their faces. Like there's singing and dancing going on in the slave quarters and massa and nem mad they weren't invited. Let us celebrate us, please. It'll be back to your regular scheduled shiny white programming after these messages. Whew, chile.
I see this Slate article making the rounds talking about how Beyoncé exploited the pain and losses of the victims of our government's neglect before and after the levy broke in New Orleans. My reaction was basically a very screwed up confused face. Because, what? Did Elton John exploit Princess Diana's death? Did Bruce Springstein exploit the people of Germany affected by the Berlin Wall coming down? Did Michael Jackson and U2 exploit world hunger and poverty? Well, U2, maybe. Did Marvin Gaye exploit racism? Did Nina Simone exploit lynching? Does every other singer who uses their celebrity to spotlight pain and social injustice exploit those causes all to make money? Did any of those performers have to run video and project credits acknowledging every artistic influence and sample purchase related to their projects?
Beyoncé is an entertainer--the biggest in the world right now--so of course the timing of Formation dropping was a brilliant marketing plan to bring attention to her new music and sell out her world tour (which she was gonna sell out anyway even if Formation had been about skillets--but thankfully she bothered to make it very black and shined the light on racial injustice and black pride)--her world tour, which will benefit children affected by the Flint water crisis, by the way.
Beyoncé is scrutinized and criticized in ways that male rock stars are not and it's because she's a sexy female who wears onesies. The cherry on top is that she's black, which is apparently offensive to a lot of people. I'm so glad sexism and racism are powerless against her. They try though.
Also, Beyoncé is not anti-police, she is anti-police brutality (as we should ALL be), so stop calling her a hypocrite because she needs uniformed officers for security, because you sound dumb.
Also, please go to the library or google or read the Black Panther wiki. If you don't feel like googling, please understand that they weren't formed as a mob to kill white people and the police. They got in formation (see what I just did there?) to protect black people from police brutality and murders by the KKK--the actual mob formed to kill black people, and did so masterfully...and still exists by the way so how about be outraged and rally against that? The Black Panther Party formed in community self-defense because racist and corrupt police officers and regular, hooded citizens were murdering black people.
Also, look up "racism" in the dictionary, then ask yourself if black people can even be racist. Stop sounding dumb.
As a proud member of the Beyhive (like, a real member with a login and password), I'm glad we are paying attention. The more people who actually research the history of the Black Panther Party and Google the actual definition of the word racism, the better off we will all be.
Formation is a gift from our peerless Queen of Pop. And long may she reign.