Lemons out of Lemonade.
Music is a universal language. Music transcends across the world, across all languages, cultures and beliefs. Music isn’t limited (Bresnahan, R 2016). So, if music is meant for everyone, all cultures, to be experience and enjoyed by everyone where does the blurred line of appreciating and appropriating music begin?
Beyoncé’s studio album and film “Lemonade” (2016), is my main example. The piece was made as a healing process for her husband’s affair, and as a piece for black feminists. It explored the “impact of infidelity on Black women”. Beyoncé has global success, fans from all cultures and racial identities, but Lemonade – it’s not for white people. Every frame of this visual album is made with intent and purpose, it calls out black culture in media, the culture of violent that is promoted under white supremacist sexist patriarchy (Edwards, E B, Esposito, J, Evans-Winters, V 2017). So, where do white people fit into Lemonade? – or other People of colour cultures for that matter?
“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.” – Malcom X (X, 1962)
It’s as simple as viewing, enjoying and respecting. The minute someone, a white someone, tries to interpret this piece that was made and meant for black women, to inspire and empower them, make no sense at all.
The “roles” of whiteness and blackness or other cultures doesn’t have to exist in music for negative purposes. One of the popular examples in media at the moment is the concept as to why white people started to wear cornrows, as it originates in African culture for a way for women of colour to protect their hair, one of the only hairstyles black women could wear. And now it’s used in fashion and media appropriating the hairstyle, white people taking something from a rich culture and making it their own. It’s problematic because it shows no respect for the culture. It’s essentially mocking.
Lemonade was a big moment for black women. For them to be able to take action and be able to name their oppression and see it in mainstream media, that meant so much to so many women. That’s why itis very important for public figures, especially ones as successful as Beyoncé to speak truth that they know will resonate with their audiences – worldwide. To give them something to have common ground with. To say “hey, I feel that way too and it’s okay.” And Lemonade is that, its a piece of art that Black women can sing as their anthem, and its also an album that any Women who has been wronged can scream. – It’ s meant to be universally respected.
Lemonade, like many before it, is an album. When it comes down to paper, it is an album made by a talented artist that is adored by many. And can be listen to and enjoyed by everyone, male/female, white/black/green – doesn’t matter. Like any piece of art, it comes does to one’s respect for the art and the artist. And by all means, if you can do that, then scream the lyrics from the top of your lungs.
– Bresnahan, R 2016, Appropriation vs. Appreciation in Music: Where Should We Draw the Line?, Sonicbids Blog, date accessed 26/8/19, http://blog.sonicbids.com/appropriation-vs-appreciation-in-music-where-should-we-draw-the-line
– Brown, A 2016, White Commentary on ‘Lemonade’: No One Asked Us, HuffPost, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/white-commentary-on-lemonade_b_9780056,
– Edwards, E B, Esposito, J, Evans-Winters, V 2017, “Does Beyoncé’s Lemonade Really Teach Us how to Turn Lemons into Lemonade? Exploring the Limits and Possibilities Through Black Feminism”, Taboo: The Journal of Culture & Education Fall 2017
– Candid Beyonce, https://toofab.com/2016/08/23/beyonce-reveals-behind-the-scenes-lemonade-pics-appears-in-rare-snapchat-with-jay-z/
– Beyoncé Lemonade, https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/23/11122368/beyonce-lemonade-new-album-available-now
– Hold Up, Beyonce, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeonBmeFR8o