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[TW: Racism, Misogynoir, Mentions of Racialized Sexual Assault, Gender Slurs, Strong Coarse Language]

I did not come to play with you hos. I came here to slay, bitch. – Big Freedia

I’m probably about one of a million black girl bloggers who is posting her thoughts on Beyonce’s latest visual foray. Being on that weird cusp of Generation X/Y, aka hitting certain milestones on parallel with her Beyness, I never understood the commitment or zealotry of her fan base…until now when Beyonce had reassured us that black excellence was still alive and kicking. Or at least is trying to find a new face.

Because if Lemonade has done anything, and no doubt it’s done a lot, it’s reiterated with electric fury that the world only allows cishet white men with Fuck You money to use it to say Fuck You.

With that in mind, I need to address the white folk (specifically white women) who have fallen over themselves because of this video. Yeah, that means you too, dear reader. I’ma need you to STAHP for a second, because this shit was not about nor for you. Please, just sit down and don’t go and do this.

Look, Well-Meaning White Friend, I’m glad that you enjoyed Lemonade. I’m glad that you were able to witness a new form of visual art that encapsulates a good chunk of [but certainly not all] the diversity and beauty of black women. Go ahead and watch it multiple times! Shout from the cliffs how much you enjoyed it. Your enjoyment in and of itself is not what concerns me. What I am simultaneously worried and irritated about, and I have many legitimate reasons to be both, is that you won’t leave it at enjoyment because your privilege has inhibited you, time and time again, from being able to appreciate shit without appropriating it. The fact that this shit couldn’t even be out for two fucking weeks without the Texan Beckys With The Blond Hair touching it [I’ll explain later why this shit infuriated me] is just another piece of evidence to affirm my position. The mere existence of Iggy Azalea ought to cover the rest.

Borrowing the words of a dear friend, I’m sorry that you didn’t have this awesome cultural experience, but that ain’t neither here nor there. So I’ma need you to sit yo asses down and shut the fuck up while I try to embrace and reflect upon this mainstream piece of art that was finally made for me and with me in mind, in all of its glory and admittedly problematic elements.

By the by, NBPOC folk, you are not exempt from the aforementioned request. I know that there are some hurt feelings, but…

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Now, I am not the first black woman to declare that she didn’t know how much she needed Lemonade until she saw it. I am definitely not the first black woman to oh, sign up for Tidal on both her old-ass laptop and smartphone specifically for Lemonade, only to have that wack ass shit crash on her multiple times while viewing. And I refuse to believe that I am the first black woman who planted her behind in the middle of the train station floor because proximity to an outlet was more important than adhering to RTA regulations about squatting. At least I would like to believe that I wasn’t. The brotha didn’t have to come by me a second time to tell me to pack up my little camp, you know. On some level, I get it. Then again, there are just some things that brothas won’t understand. And there are some thing that a sista needs to come to understand on her own.

I don’t hide in shame at the fact that I am Assimilation Achieved. I don’t revel in pride of it either. Not anymore. We don’t have enough conversations about the confusion caused by being raised “proud” to be black while being isolated from the culture itself. How I used to never know the black woman outside of the repressive, misogynoiristic church environment. How I used to never know the black woman on the convention floor beating the hell out of the overestimated white boy in a round of DBZ for Playstation. How I used to never know the black woman who proclaimed a sexuality independent of black men. How I used to never know that I had any country in me all this time. Although, given that the last 8 generations of my mom’s family hails from a corner of Louisiana [my daddy’s Mississippi — I know, not even close] wherein Google Maps literally gave up, there was no way my mother could take all of the country out of either of us. Minor examples include but are not limited to:

  • Still recognizing the smell of greens AND being able to discern which type wherever I go;
  • Still using Crisco [on the rare occasions I cook — What? How did YOUR grandmama teach you how to fry chicken?];
  • Still feeling my heart flutter when the heat of a lightning storm hits;
  • Still remembering how to navigate a burr bush like a boss;
  • Still remembering to get the vaseline in between my toes [ashy ain’t cute]; and
  • Still taking the extra time to comb out my kitchen.

And don’t get me started on my domino game.

But, we don’t get to see it often on the main stage: our evolution, our complexity, our transformation from heartbreak to anger to healing. We don’t get to see ourselves as more than strong in the public light. We don’t see our many shades, our many sides, our many selves. We’re too caught up in trying to be Strong, Righteous, Accommodating while deep down, we are being trampled and beset upon, and we are past the point of being done.

We’ve broken, sold and set fire to our philandering partners’ possessions, then have tried to drown ourselves in Jesus, T.D. Jakes’ self-help books, the Steve Harvey radio show, gym memberships and bad weaves. Taking a bat to your philandering partner’s shit isn’t new, but before we were condemned as crazy, now we are to be commended. Now they see our capacity for complexity and caring, not just for others, but for ourselves. Beyonce has built the next step away from the platitudes we had to put on metaphorical billboards because of the lie that spoke we were not worthy of love, recognition, celebration, support, or even basic human decency.

So, where am I going with this? I’m trying to say that, when a group of white chicks gets together to cover a song so inundated with the concept of black father-daughter bonding that it punches the Absent Black Father myth in the face, yes, I’m going to have a serious problem with said white chicks doing what they don’ did. Proclaiming your disgust and disapproval with a resident former president doesn’t grant you the right to spit upon the primary message of Daddy’s Lesson and throw it to the side. Exit, Stage Front (i.e., pushed the fuck off) the love, recognition, celebration, support and basic human decency the song had originally portrayed.

I will honestly say that I have never been a fan of country music, due mostly to its pervasive history of racial exclusion despite the obvious influence of black gospel and West African melodies on the genre. (We were 80% of the fucking population of the South until the 1930s. You cannot be surprised by this). With that being said, there is something near-perfect about Daddy’s Lesson, wherein a black country girl gets to explore all of the aspects of her upbringing and environment, including and especially a present, knowledgeable, but not necessarily perfect father figure. Daddy’s Lesson made having a father in a black girl’s life the rule and not the exception. That is not something that any other artist besides another black woman [femme, etc] can wholly interpret, nor is it a construct to whom anyone other than a black woman [femme, etc] should apply.

The same argument is trumpeted for Forward and Freedom. I don’t even know where to begin or how to analyze these songs since they boldly state everything that we as black women have been screaming from the hill tops since we were brought to these shores. The number of bridges that were our backs. The number of voices that were silenced. The number of shackles we’ve had to break. The number of hands sliced open from the cotton flowers. The number of babies we’ve had to bury. The number of crooked houses in which we’ve had to stand in straight. The number of hair strands we’ve had to fry, dye and pull to the side. The number of Alice Pauls who’ve pushed Ida B. Wellses to the back of the line. The number of George Wallaces who stood in our way at the school entrances. The Huey P. Newtons who assaulted us and fed us the fuckery line of The Cause before his uninvited paws. The list goes on and on and on, but I’m the one who needs to be more concerned with privileged folks’ feelings over our ongoing, pervasive and systemic oppression?

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I’d rather be crazy, rather be crazy.

There is a reason why I base my activism on being black and a woman: I am black, I am a woman, and I will no longer be forced to choose between the two. I will not be silent, excluded, erased, ignored, assaulted or made small to make anyone with more privilege feel better. I am not here for your comfort, consumption, control or convenience. And I know that I am not alone in this venture. Because we are done, D.U.N. Done, and her Beyness has made this abundantly clear.

Ashes to ashes, dust to Privilege.

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