Whether you watched the visual album on HBO or you missed it because you’re not a subscriber and didn’t take advantage of the free weekend (smart move Beyoncé), by now the young girl in your life probably knows all about Lemonade.
Soooo, are you ready to talk to her about it? Perhaps you’ve been avoiding it because you’re not sure how to answer questions like “Who is Becky?” and “What is good hair?”
The reality is that this generation has too much access to media for adults to use the old adage, “No, you can’t watch it because I said so”. Instead, you should be prepared to have a conversation about Lemonade with the girl you love. This blog offers tips on how to start the dialogue, even if you’ve decided you don’t want her to watch it due to its mature content.
Here are some questions you can ask her. Make sure you LISTEN to each of her responses:
1). Have you watched/listened to Beyoncé’s new album? What do you think about it?
2) Was there anything that confused you or that you want to ask about?
3) There were a couple of things I noticed that I’d like to talk to you about. Is that ok?
THEN TALK ABOUT:
Beyoncé’s relationship with Jay-Z and the rumors of infidelity.
You might say, “Many women would be understandably angry if their husband cheated, right? However, the rumors resulted in a teenager being bullied on social media. I want to make sure that you know that it’s NEVER okay to do this. Not even if you’re defending a friend or your favorite music artist. How would you respond if you experienced or witnessed bullying?”
The images of girls and women of color.
Lemonade pays homage to the unique experiences, vulnerability, solidarity, and resilience of Black women and girls. Several of the best and brightest black girls that your daughters may look up to are prominently featured.
What if you or the girl you love are not Black?
Beyoncé’s intentional use of only girls and women of color is STILL important to talk about because there are so few instances where this happens. This is a great opportunity to talk about mainstream media and the types of women who are valued as the ideal standards of beauty and intelligence vs those who are often negatively portrayed as ugly, ignorant, aggressive, or promiscuous. You can even talk about plastic surgery and the ways that women feel pressured to adapt to beauty trends. How does this differ for women of color? Is there diversity in who is portrayed as beautiful, smart, or strong?
Female empowerment and strength.
I appreciate the images of strength that Beyoncé gives us. For example, in Formation, she repeatedly tells us she works hard. I believe this is an important message for girls. However, admittedly, there are some lyrics that seem to condone violence and promote enmity amongst women that I don’t agree with. The reality is that these are also issues that your girls may be familiar with and you need to give them a healthy perspective.
Racial injustice and #BlackLivesMatter
In Freedom, Beyoncé features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. She uses her platform and influence to shine a light on the pattern of systemic mistreatment and dehumanization of Black people. This is not just a Black issue, but a social justice issue that affects us all. Beyoncé attempts to restore dignity, empathy, and humanity to the Black experience and existence. The girls in your life need to know how this impacts them so they can help change the narrative and create a better society.
The adult themes of Beyoncé’s music. She is a “grown” woman.
Beyoncé is no longer singing about the topics of her Destiny’s Child days. She’s moved beyond just giving us something to dance to. She is showing us the pain, anger, and heartbreak of relationships, growth, and life transitions.
It’s hard when our musical icons grow up. Many still hold Beyoncé to the “ideal” of being a role model for our young girls. However, it can be argued that the older, more risqué Beyoncé is a more admirable role model as she contributes her time and dollars to support efforts around the globe. Talk to your girls about the duality of Beyoncé being an artist AND an activist and what that means for her own potential to be all SHE wants to be.
Listen, I’m glad Beyoncé is embracing what she sees as her identity, her power, and her struggles. Again, Chimamanda put it best: “Beyoncé’s success until now…has been based on the idea that she’s vanilla…the flavor that appeals to the largest number of people…In the American mainstream means that you have to be racially ambiguous. You can’t really be too black.”
In short, I would love for my younger cousins, the teens I work with in my church group, and my young mentees to refrain from watching Lemonade. The themes the album explores are complicated and confusing enough for some adults who may have the experiences to relate to them; teenagers, not so much. I think it’s necessary, as the adult, to set boundaries and let the young people I love know why I don’t think they’re ready. They may disagree, but nevertheless, I will have the conversation with them so that they can make informed choices, especially when I’m not around.
So now that you’re prepared, start the conversation.