I’ve spent the last 36 hours debating how to articulate my thoughts… Well actually, I’ve spent 36 hours trying to figure out how I REALLY felt before typing anything because, like most, Lemonade left me in a mess. Empowered and proud for sure, but also in a hot mess. I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve often felt uncomfortable at times displaying my blackness. Micro-aggressive comments such as “that’s such a black thing to do” or “why are you so loud” are often reasons for my self-policing tendencies and why they’ve become just as much a part of my daily routine as taking a shower.
I’ve attended parties with friends, bar the Nigerian ones, where dancing has to be toned down because the control the music can have over our waists and asses isn’t acceptable in many settings. I’ve seen the aftermath of attempted suicides by black girls because they were bullied for being too dark and I’ve seen, experienced and internalised the dislike for black hair and the love of slut-shaming.
Prior to “Formation”, I had never particularly been the biggest Beyoncé fan. To be honest much of her previous work I’ve looked at with raised eyebrows and eye rolls for many reasons. But when I woke up Sunday morning for work, I watched my timeline simultaneously fall apart and find life. I saw an excitement and a sense of pride in black womanhood across the globe that I’ve never witnessed, let alone experienced, first hand.
Throughout my bus journey I looked on at Lemonade in awe and sadness. Sad that in my 23 years, this is the first time outside of the Bible I’ve been told it’s okay to be who I have been created to be. That I don’t have to be apologetic for my awkward transitioning texture, or for being loud. For being dark, or light. That uplifting and celebrating other black women isn’t a crime and it’s definitely not illegal to celebrate myself. That when enough is enough I’m allowed to pull out hot sauce from my bag and smash any and every obstacle, stereotype, and out right enemy of progression that doesn’t want me to love being me.
The realization that Lemonade was something that had been missing in the lives of so many of us without even knowing it, was overwhelming. I bore witness to the beautiful exchange of celebration that took place between Beyoncé & Serena Williams. As Bey sat in a Sports Illustrated-inspired pose on a regal chair paying homage to the tennis queen, Serena slayed owning her body in all its beauty in partial tribute to Beyoncé who has unashamedly done so for many years, and I couldn’t help but grin.
I beheld the next generation of beautiful black girls that my nieces and one day daughters will look up to and my heart filled with happiness. While their “fists” were up, afros were out and braids were down, I watched on with pride and joy at the beauty that should be and will now hopefully be, black womanhood. The unspoken bond of sisterhood, the endless displays of self-love and, the ability to hold onto hope for the future when reality looks like crap. But best of all, the beauty of us all enjoying the realness of our Black Girl Badassery in all its finesse and glory.
Being a black woman has never bothered me. I’ve never hated it or wished I was anything else, but I can’t say I’ve particularly loved it either. However, when I woke up this morning with an extra bounce in my twerk as I listened to Lemonade yet again, it was the first time I’ve been genuinely proud to be one; and I ain’t sorry.