Beyoncé – Sister girl, sister girl!
Watching Lemonade seemed like catching glimpses of my mother and aunts at Granny’s kitchen table, reminiscent of Annie Lee’s picture of women playing cards. As a little girl, my aunts typically went to Granny’s house at least once a week. You knew it was something serious when all the women went in the kitchen and told us kids to play outside or go upstairs and play. Granny was southern, so kids were never left unsupervised. If we were sent upstairs, something happened. While others dutifully obeyed, I hid on the stairs to listen as my mother and her sisters would tell Granny what was wrong. Granny would put on a pot of coffee – an old fashioned percolator. I remember when they all mourned because my cousin’s menstrual started at age nine. Most of the times, these “sitting at the kitchen table” discussions meant that someone’s husband was unfaithful, lost a job, tried to hit an aunt, or mismanaged money in a “Walter Lee Younger” fashion. My Granny would listen as her daughters talked about the issues of balancing wife, motherhood, and life. Granny typically would say that their ultimate duty was to raise and protect their kids regardless of the husband’s foolishness, even if that meant leaving. I often wondered whether my mom and aunts would have married if they had the same educational opportunities I had.
However, my education did not prevent me or my educated girlfriends from making the same mistakes with men. As I watched Lemonade, it felt like Beyoncé took pieces of my Granny’s kitchen table discussions and conversations with my girlfriends over relationships that ended either in divorce or from the realization that we deserved better. It reminded me of how during a recent break up, my girlfriends comforted me with emails and text messages reminding me of my worth. Like most women in a break-up, Beyoncé tackled the crazy or jealous question with a new version of Jazmine Sullivan’s Bust the Windows. I remember after my first big heartbreak, I called my aunt. It was the first time she spoke to me as a woman and not as her niece. She said in a matter-of-fact way, “You ain’t going through nothing every other woman hasn’t gone through. You gone be alright.” That’s when I realized that my aunts and mother had more strength than I realized. Indeed, I was alright and moved on to better things. But at that time, when I thought my world was crumbling and that I was not good enough, that “you gone be alright” was light.
Lemonade speaks to generations – mothers to daughters, grandmothers to granddaughters. This sisterhood of black girl magic, said more eloquently in Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, is a reminder of our collective strength. We are phenomenal women. I loved that Beyoncé included young black girls rising like Michaela DePrince, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya, Quvenzhané Wallis, and Chloe and Halle. It’s a reminder that this circle of life is bigger than us. As women, we have a duty to pass down our wisdom, aka “mother wit,” to the young girls watching and looking up to us for guidance. I used my recent breakup as an example to my nieces to never dim your light to make someone else comfortable. Don’t be afraid to walk away when as Nina Simone said “love is no longer being served.” I hope my nieces learn from my good, bad, and ugly so that they won’t repeat the same mistakes, to know their worth, and celebrate their uniqueness.
Beyoncé’s Daddy Lesson was the song that spoke to me the most. I am a daddy’s girl. Yet, my dad and I often butted heads because the things he told me never to take from a man, he did not always mirror to my mother. I wrote about the power fathers possess over their daughters – for better or worse they set the standard for every man that comes after. The daughter in me loved her daddy. The woman in me had issues with his male chauvinist ways towards my mother. Before his death, my dad and I spoke of this and made peace with what caused a rift in our relationship. I will always be a daddy’s girl, but Dad always said, “Men are pigs. I know because I used to be one.” After my first breakup, my Dad flew two thousand miles to comfort me and find the fool that broke my heart to teach him a lesson. After convincing my dad that the guy was not worth the trouble, he said: “Treat men with a long-handled spoon. Never give a man your heart until he gives you his otherwise he won’t appreciate it.” My own daddy lessons.
Beyoncé’s black girl magic and love for women, particularly black women made me exhale. Sister girl, sister girl! I was going to get a bottle of wine to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones. Instead, I picked up some Limoncello to have a grown woman’s glass of lemonade.
This post was featured on the front page of Huffington Post.