Beyoncé Knowles' Album Lemonade

Beyoncé’s Lemonade: A Profound Creed for African American Feminism

Beyoncé Knowles’ album Lemonade was released on April 23, 2016, along with a one-hour film. Numerous commentators, viewers, and particularly supporters and authors of African American Feminism have all had differing opinions about the movie. Many people see Beyoncé’s Lemonade as a response to her husband’s alleged infidelity, while others see it as an intensified declaration of the black woman’s supremacy—the most corrupted species on American soil—being restored to its rightful place as the dominant species. Others think Lemonade is just a business venture where the product is a black woman’s body. Additionally, some authors feel that the film attempts to refute a stubborn reality; by attempting to highlight the worth of a black woman which has taken centuries to realize. Bell Hooks feels that it is an act of business, which brings along the benefits of selling the worth of a black woman, while Joy-Ann Reid feels that Lemonade is a black feminist ‘aesthetic’ more than a simple promotion of a commodity.

Despite the numerous differing perspectives, Lemonade is not necessarily a reaction to Jay Z’s cheating and selling a black woman’s body, but a profoundly orchestrated creed for African American feminism; thereby disagreeing with Bell Hooks.

Lemonade. More than just Money

Hooks does make reference to one aspect of Lemonade that could pass for a benefit but not the ultimate intent; capitalism. According to her, Lemonade is an attempt by Beyoncé to highlight the intrigues of a black woman’s body, its variety, and power. As such, the audience is universal; thus the film is not meant for black folk. Whereas this argument may be partly correct, it does not represent what I could consider as the ultimate idea. My argument is that the film’s intent is more profound. Like many of its genre, it is an expression of the artist’s innermost convictions about the current position and potential of the African American woman both in body and character.

Before alluding to Reid’s perspectives, appreciating Beyoncé’s person, achievements, and status is critical.

She is a self-made successful black woman who has outmaneuvered the same systems that African American women blame for their subversion (Biography np). She has overcome all challenges except one; which appears to be the source of inspiration for Lemonade; the plight of an African American woman in the context of a romantic relationship. There have been numerous allegations of cheating by her husband. The 1 hour film has a scene in which she tosses a ring at the camera (Lemonade, np). A question begs: Is marital cheating raced? The answer could easily be no. Therefore, Beyoncé’s act highlights that at the end of the day, a Black woman is still an American woman; who finds love, grapples with its challenges, and has choices like all other American women. Beyoncé has achieved virtually everything that an empowered American would achieve with their talent. She is rich, famous, raising a family, opinionated, and black (Forbes np). Yet she grapples with matters of betrayal. These are attributes critical in understanding Lemonade as a form of self-expression and clarion call (Reid, np), more than an act of money (Hook, np).

According to Joy-Ann Reid, Beyonce is trying to voice a special kind of feminism that posits that black women are equally deserving of the adoration that white women take for granted (Reid np). This is strongly agreeable. There is a scene in the video which fair black women relax in Southern trees. Quite profound is the strength portrayed by the black woman despite the efforts to drown her. There is powerful symbolism here: Water is used to drown, baptize, and revitalize. There is a scene in which the black woman goes through drowning moments (when she is washed off by a flood), cleansing moments (the flood in the church), and revitalizing moments (when she is caught by water after jumping off a building). According to Reid, water is no doubt figurative since black women’s power is seen ‘under water’. ‘Under water’ is an idiom used to refer to inadvertent or silent. Therefore, Reid expresses that black woman’s beauty, power, and resilience silent, and Lemonade serves to encourage them to illuminate and amplify it (Reid np).

In the end, Reid does take a twist in her argument that further highlights that Beyoncé is not out on a money making spree but in one of black feminism in its reality. Numerous authors allude to the scene in which Beyoncé breaks cars with a baseball bat, dressed in amber; the color of fire. Reid states that despite a black woman’s desire and right to affection, she is still stronger than just an ordinary woman. This scene defies Hook’s view of Beyoncé’s attempt to sell a black woman’s physical beauty and affection (Reid np).


Contrary to Bell Hook’s school of thought, Lemonade is a profound narration and expression of African American feminism; both physical and in character. Hook appears to overemphasize the role of a black woman’s physique and trivializes her character and person. This leads to her allegation that Lemonade epitomizes capitalism. I hold that this is not entirely the intent of the film. As Reid argues, with a fair shade of respect for Hooks, the movie is a powerful aesthetic of black feminism, to be seen both in body and in character.

Works Cited, Beyoncé Knowles,, accessed on 30 June 2017, from

Forbes, Beyoncé Knowles, Forbes Magazine, 2017. Accessed on 30 June 2017, from

Hooks, Bell, Moving Beyond Pain, Bell Hooks Institute, (May 9, 2016)

Knowles, Beyoncé, Lemonade, Parkwood Entertainment, 2016.

Reid, Joy-Ann, Lemonade is a powerful Black feminist aesthetic in its own right, 2016.

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