Revelist has been so moved by Beyoncé's "Lemonade" that we've commissioned a series of essays from Black women about the impact the visual album has had on them. Click here to read more.
Most of the conversation surrounding Beyoncé’s new visual album, "Lemonade," has focused on her husband, Jay-Z’s, speculated infidelity. However, the pop star’s sixth studio release is equally about forgiveness, healing, hope, and resilience. The Texas-born songstress’ frank lyrics, intertwined with Somali-British poet warsan shire’s prose poetry, and intricate cinematography from directors Kahlil Joseph, Melina Matsoukas, and others, is chilling and triggering.
Hearing Beyoncé recite Shire’s heart-wrenching words: "Let me make up for the years he made you wait: Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god? Did you get on your knees daily? Do his eyes close like doors? Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about your husband or your father?" strikes a chord.
The "or your father line" and the scene of the Black girl standing bewildered as a man trots off behind her, instantly invokes tears with every viewing.
I can’t listen to or watch “Daddy Lessons” without crying. It reminds me of my non-existent relationship with my own father.
My father and I have always had a lackluster relationship. My mother told me he didn’t start coming around until after I’d already turned one. Maybe that's because he never knew his own father.
My father seemingly became jaded after he divorced his ex-wife. He lived two hours away, and he did attempt to come visit and spend time with me, but not too often. When he did, he attempted to be an authoritative figure while doing the bare minimum as a dad. Eventually, he came around less and less.
As I got older, his visits became even more sporadic. It always hurt me when family members told me he'd come to town, especially since he didn't see me on his visits. Our relationship became very strained — and still hasn’t been repaired. I haven’t seen my father since 2010 when we both attended my maternal grandmother’s funeral. I haven’t spoken to him in two years.
I ceased communication with him after a phone conversation, where he told me that, "He didn't care if he ever saw my face again." He became jealous after learning that I had been spending some time with his twin brother, who has always been there for me. He told me to let my uncle be my father.
At that point, I decided to no longer engage in a toxic relationship with him.
Even though we're not in contact, I haven't been able to escape his impact.
He taught me to be tough, just as Beyoncé’s father taught her. Beyoncé sings to my soul when she says, "And daddy made a soldier out of me… tough girl is what I had to be."
But he also marks the beginning of a string of unhealthy relationships.
Sometimes, I feel like Sophia in "The Color Purple:" All my life, I had to fight. I've had to fight the spirit of rejection, starting with my father and continuing with many past lovers, all mimicking patterns of the very first one.
In my teens, I endured an on-and-off relationship with a man that I'm sure is one of the smuggest, most disloyal, dishonest, and disrespectful people on this planet.
When I found out he'd been cheating, I rolled down the highway — seeing red and blasting Monica’s "Set It Off" — ready to confront my lover. Even after that, we ended up reconciling, though we broke up after I'd had enough of his lies.
I still continued down a path of not so great affairs. During my first year of college, I met a lover who's eight years older than me. We connected on so many things, but I found out that he loved to lie.
He lied about his whereabouts and dealings with other women, his education, and even his career. My life is full of similar details about my relationships, and it has taken all of those atrocities for me to grasp that I am terrifying and strange and beautiful.
Ironically, there is beauty in being able to say that you’ve lived through wars, and that’s what Beyoncé's "Lemonade" beautifully showcases. It's even displayed in her decision to feature women — like the bereaved mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Oscar Grant, and Eric Garner — who are still struggling to get past their sons' untimely deaths.
I’ve watched and listened to "Lemonade" at least six times, and each time it feels like I’m identifying a new generational curse from the women before me. I am committed, however, to breaking the curses, just as Beyoncé is.
At 30, I am ready to forgive my father. I am hopeful that it can be done. While I strongly feel that he should put in the most effort to repair our fractured relationship because he’s my father, I also understand that he’s suffered from his own pain. And unfortunately, hurt people hurt people.
Experiencing "Lemonade" has made me revisit my own pain, feel my mother's and grandmothers' pain, and feel the collective pain of Black women. This four-day "Lemonade" viewing session has inspired me to forgive my father, and more importantly, myself.
Most importantly, I feel the need to forgive myself for waiting on a relationship with my father and for going through what I've been through in past relationships.
I, and many other Black women, are too taking lemons and making lemonade.