Beyonce’s Lemonade album was simply flawless. Beyonce allowed us to into an area of her life like she has never before with songs that spoke about love and heartbreak, the challenges of marriage, the empowerment of women and for me, most importantly Black Power. The visual album was stunning, laced with poetry written by Warsan Shire, remarkable imagery that took the viewer on a life journey of an artist finding her way through loss, hate, redemption, love and ultimately freedom.
While only 3 Black women have won album of the year, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston and Lauryn Hill in the history of the Grammy’s, surely last night was Beyonce’s time to shine. And just like that, the moment was gone when it was announced that Adele had won Album of the Year.
While theoretically I understand awards are just awards, and this takes nothing away from the Lemonade album, there was something in that moment that reinforced what I already believe. That Black women will always have to run faster, jump higher, work harder, get up earlier, go to bed later, to get half of anything in this world.
When Beyonce didn’t win Album of the Year it wasn’t just a loss to me. It was a reminder to stay in your place Black girl, don’t make waves Black girl, be invisible, Black girl, don’t challenge the system, Black girl, don’t walk in your authority, Black girl, don’t empower Black women, Black girl. Who do you think you are, Black girl?
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” Malcolm X
It was a reminder that for many people our Black will always be too loud, too greasy, too bold, too messy, too sexy. We as Black women have always been told that we are just too much of everything.
Hearing Adele’s speech, while I understand what she was attempting to do, was yet another slap in the face for me. I love Adele and believe that she is a phenomenal singer. Her last album 21 was on constant rotation in my car. Still, in that moment I felt shock, embarrassment and sadness as she gave her acceptance speech. Standing on that Grammy stage she was a White woman reminding a Black woman, you were better, but still I won. How many Black women throughout history have been better? Have excelled more? Have done more and still never won? Never got the recognition they deserved? Never earned the money they should have? Never got the credit they so rightly deserved? And then to add insult to injury, Adele told Beyonce, “The way you make my Black friends feel is empowering.” And “I want you to be my mommy.” That is when I lost it. A White woman telling a fully pregnant, glowing woman that just embodied Oshun, (a Yoruba deity from West Africa that is the goddess of fertility and love), that she would like her to be her mommy. We have stopped playing mommy to children that aren’t ours years ago. We are no longer the mammy or the wet nurse. Those days are over.
I woke up today, knowing as I always do, that in this world, I will always have to work harder to get half as much. Still I am determined to do it like Beyonce, FLAWLESSLY!