I’m late to the Beyonce Lemonade fanfare. Although I’ve only seen the trailer, I’ve had conversations with students who painstakingly studied her every gesture, spoken, sung and mediated word. As a result, I’ve heard both the enthusiastic testimonials and shady hisses. Regardless of where I might side on Bey’s motives for this work, my impression is that visually, it’s stunning, and offers a fascinating spin on the intersections of race, pop culture, gender and environment.
Unexpectedly, the imaging, (and always the messaging) even for Bey’s exotic, standard-bearing reach, plants her as enraged/betrayed, blackfemalebody, in an ecosystem that’s littered with lovers, spouses, racist fools and the like, who remain wholly unconvinced of her worth. At the same time, the video’s optics pay ritualistic homage to the very ecosystems and environments in which acts of resistance, outrage and freedom have been mightily transacted by black women every day.
Rather than resorting to internet chatter comparisons to American Horror show, I think the video effectively frames Bey’s gangsta green entanglements in repositories of searing anger and mistrust, not unlike carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases are absorbed by the earth and then thrown back violently into space. What we call Climate Change. As I see it, she discovers the depths of her Nature by taking to task the elements–earth, wind, fire, water–which suggests that she also understands them as the essential forces for remedying her pain. In so doing, she reminds us that a sustainable Nature deserves deep House Love—and to be nurtured by a mature Lover. Her probing is ever-present in the Hoodie in Cornfield look that she rocks in an early opening scene that uses green space to forage for whole foods, clean water, fresh air, and to contemplate her next beatdown. After all, freedom-fighters understood that to enslave or oppress any part of “a living system,” ultimately betrays us all.
In the sometimes disturbing transactions of balancing her fragile ecosystem and asking for what she wants, Bey’s persona throws open those fabulous temple doors, as a torrent of water casts forth the waves of her fury. Of course, there’s also brimming fire, cause her heart’s been burned. Terribly. In Toni Cade Bambara’s novel Salteaters, the elders ask a troubled young woman if she is ready to reclaim a measure of conservation, of preservation, in her own image.
But how does one surrender to ecological change on behalf of planet earth and the self, when it’s seemingly all too much?
During quieter moments, Bey seeks to restore a necessary dignity to all blackfemalebody, with stylized imaging that conjures Julie Dash’s iconic film, Daughters of the Dust. (Which by the way, Lemonade has helped generate renewed interest.)
There are also surviving mothers who hold portraits of their dead loved ones in the backdrop of Black Lives Matter branding and social justice improvisation. Whatever you may think of Beyonce, she’s a woman who’s moved to educate and heal herself. Liberation must be within reach.
NEW MOON 4 JUNE
With the New Moon phase in Gemini, which culminates on June 4th, Chani Nicholas reminds us to “make it a priority to maintain healthy boundaries.” In other words, take long walks in green places. Spread yourself among stalks of wild lavender, (like Bey does.) Stretch your weary bones to the sky. Reflect and cleanse at the water’s edge. This is also a good day to set intentions and again on June 20th with the Full Strawberry Moon in time for the Summer Solstice.
This summer, I’m deepening my knowledge of growing and using medicinal herbs for teas, tonics, salves and tinctures, at Third Root Community Health Center in Brooklyn. My instructors, Angela, Stephen and Julia, are gifted master-herbalists, healers, and spirit guides on this new journey. Yay, me! Here’s to doing what I love.
Happy National LGBTQ PRIDE Month
Share your comments. Stay Green. Stay Square. Pb