Lemonade or Poison?

The most anticipated visual album titled Lemonade by Beyonce captivated HBO subscribers (and friends of) along with all of those who have subscribed to Tidal. The documentary, as it is fittingly labeled, presents Beyonce’s experience in the dress of her floating in the midst of a water filled bedroom, later busting window out of parked cars in the street to sitting on top of a half sunk cop car in the middle of a flood. And it is a true piece of theater, compelling with aesthetic and poetic detail that parallel the beauty and confusion of life. Why is Beyonce randomly on a bus with 10 other black women painted like African tribe’s women while gesturing for someone to “suck her balls.” And yet, I completely agree and feel it. And because of my experience as a black woman, I feel it. So much. That, like others who have watched it, I felt something real, haunting rather, when after a progressive poem about tradition, paranoia, conformity and love, Beyonce asks, “are you cheating on me?”

Because in my mind and along with others, we’re thinking, who would cheat on Beyonce? More so, what is Beyonce going to do? We are stunned by mixed emotions like someone plugged the rug from under us.

There is something greater that has been brought to the table, should we call it Lemonade?

For as long as I can remember, (I am 27) mainstream R&B and Hip Hop has been this deity, that’s actually kind of hot and cold. Black and white. This way or no way. Scornful as you know Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f*** with. Every song I consumed as a child promoted notions like “Kick his ass to the curb” or “Stay one step ahead” or “C.R.E.A.M.” It’s laws that has been bound into the culture. Coming from this culture, the knee-jerk response to Beyonce’s question would be:

“Jay-Z cheated. Kick his simple minded ass to the curb!”

And that would have been the end of Lemonade. But yet the pitcher still sits there and that, traditionally, is not supposed to happen, especially with her being a member of the community. Members of the community like Azealia Banks have taken to Twitter to voice that she was supposed to kick his ass to the curb:

You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s Not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here — @azealiabanks

Further claiming (and this is me paraphrasing) that Beyoncé is pandering a toxic narrative to the black community. All the while, the pitcher still sits and for some reason everyone is sipping from it. Hell, some are even dousing themselves in it. Beyoncé’s Lemonade is set to be 1 in the top 200 Billboard charts. And it leaves the question: is everyone poisoning themselves or is it just what it is, good ole delicious Lemonade?

Is continuing the story beyond the drama, hurt and pain of Mary J. Blige toxic? Is it toxic to go against the traditions of R&B and Hip Hop?

The documentary proceeds, defying tradition and we are forced to learn how Beyoncé copes with insecurity, infidelity, loneliness, obsession and addiction. She took us through self-reflection, vulnerability and lows we that we, prior to, medicated ourselves from by using traditional R&B, keeping us from throwing ourselves over bridges. And by the end of it all, we were all made anew — embracing forgiveness and love, flaws and all. Lemonade simply made us feel. And when we feel, that’s how we know we’re alive.

Lemonade has shifted the consciousness of mainstream R&B and Hip Hop to allow room for vulnerability, forgiveness, confidence and strength to coexist. Isn’t that what unconditional love looks like? I think that’s what we all needed to hear and see. That sometimes it isn’t all or nothing. That there is room for human error. Because no, it is not easy to uproot the love you have for someone. And some times craziness is freeing. That even though life’s pain is impervious to privilege, and will forever test us, we can coexist with it and use it’s bitterness to create a harmonious flavor in our own brand of Lemonade.

Whether we like it or not, it’s broadens our perspective. It’s exploration of marriage, individuality and otherness provokes a reference to renowned Toni Morrison and her book Bluest Eye to illustrate the gravity by a writer over at Jezebel.

But again, is everyone poisoning themselves or is it just what it is, Lemonade? This is important because for one, marriage is not common in the black community as much as black women want it. Is this documentary potentially irresponsible? Or could it be that our tradition could have been perpetuating the gender divide and divorce rate among the black community?

I would say, like any documentary, fact check it and take what positively applies to you.