After watching and discussing Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” this past Wednesday, October 12, participants learned one thing: “Lemonade” was made for black women.
Angela Lang and Shavonda Sisson facilitated a group of roughly 30 people in UW-Milwaukee’s Inclusive Excellence Center in the Union, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to chat about “Lemonade.” It is part of a series of events on campus relating to the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, in preparation for the Distinguished Lecture Series featuring Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, creators of the hashtag. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, the Inclusive Excellence Center and Sociocultural Programming.
On April 23, 2016, Tidal, Jay-Z’s music streaming service, released “Lemonade.”
They may have different opinions of Beyoncé, but the group, consisting of mostly women of color, agreed: Lemonade is for black women. This opinion continuously appeared throughout the discussion.
According to the group, every aspect of the album from hair to color to outfits to location signifies an important part of black culture for black women. Many people believed that the reason behind the album’s creation is empowerment for black women.
Junior Ashley Hale said, “It captured everything I want as a black woman.”
While Lemonade was being set up, facilitators Lang and Sisson asked people in the group to share their Lemonade stories – where they were when they first heard it or about it.
The answers ranged from work, to bedrooms, to school and even to cars.
“A friend texted me saying, ‘Beyoncé just dropped the blackest thing I’ve ever seen,” said Sisson.
Lang said she had been driving and pulled over so she could watch it as soon as possible.
During the screening, the crowd, aside from the rustling of popcorn bags and the occasional whimper of a baby, was relatively quiet. Then, Beyoncé threw her wedding ring off in “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” The action elicited an “Ooooh” from Sonya Butler, a UWM transfer student getting a degree in Childhood Education. It also broke the tension.
For the rest of the screening, a few people sang along to select parts of the songs. Several, including Butler, cried. When “Formation,” the last song on the album, began, a few people chuckled, and, in time with Beyoncé, let out a collective “swag.”
As the song concluded, Lang and Sisson reopened the discussion. They asked people, specifically black women in the audience, to share their experience and emotions.
Amber Tucker, assistant director in the Women’s Resource Center, said, “I’m not an emotional person, but I almost started to cry.”
UW-Milwaukee alum Symphony Swan said that Beyoncé’s self- titled album, released in 2013, and now Lemonade represent Beyoncé’s awakening.
As Lang thanked the participants and concluded the discussion; she encouraged everyone to view the album in its entirety again. As Butler said, the album is significant in that it represents, “Not who we are but what we are.”