Beyonce, bell hooks & The Audacity of Lemonade

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I come to this post not as a member of the Beyhive but as a young critical thinker questioning the validity of the charges levied  against Beyonce by bell hooks in her latest essay "Moving Beyond Pain" . Here my fanaticism for Knowles-Carter and deep seated respect for hooks are in violent collision because while hooks taught me about the political and historical implications of my hair and my complexion, Beyonce has taught me how to operate as a black woman in this creative, capitalist industry. Both of these women are feminists, both are important to me but in this instance, bell hooks' unrelenting, militant stance of undermining both Beyonce's growth as an artist and her feminism, her essay finds itself akin to Piers Morgan's delirious reading of Lemonade.

In the above video, hooks declares Beyonce a "terrorist", asserting that not only is she far from a feminist but "she's colluding in the construction of herself as a slave."  While a harsh and myopic statement, after drinking Lemonade, it is safe to say that Beyonce's self titled offering is far more junior to the depth delivered in her latest visual album- but to call her a slave was as much of a short armed reach then as "Moving Beyond Pain" is now. 

 

"...simply showcasing beautiful black bodies does not create a just culture of optimal well being where black females can become fully self actualised and truly respected..."

-bell hooks, Moving Beyond Pain

I wish I could take you through every single point I took issue with but I do not have time. bell hooks is asking Beyonce to accomplish feats beyond her powers. Reading her essay it is almost as if she believes it is Beyonce's responsibility to end anti-black woman misogyny in this hour long video. Lemonade is not a manual for how all women can heal from trauma, it is a visual album documenting her creative process. While I'm not shocked at hooks' anti-Beyonce rhetoric, I am disturbed by the notion that Beyonce's album should right all the wrongs of a system of oppression a millennium older than her while single-handedly dismantling capitalism, not forgetting to teach black men across the diaspora how to love themselves and black women. Stop it. Stop it right now. 

 

"In her fictive world, Beyoncé can name black female pain...It can be given voice: this is a vital and essential stage of freedom struggle, but it does not bring exploitation and domination to an end." 

-bell hooks, Moving beyond Pain

Beyonce cannot end something she did not create. Suggesting Beyonce hasn't ended "exploitation and domination" with Lemonade is almost be as ludicrous as asking bell hooks why she hasn't ended racism with her books.

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