“Take one pint of water. Add a half-pound of sugar, the juice of 8 lemons and the zest of half of a lemon. Pour the water from one jug into the other several times. Strain through a clean napkin.”
I believe in the power of lemonade.
To most, the drink brings back childhood memories of hot summer days, family cookouts and catching a breeze outside.
But don’t get it twisted. The lemonade that has been quenching my thirst as a Black woman in the U.S. today is what’s being served up by the Queen herself, Mrs. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter.
I remember exactly where I was when I watched the debut of “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s second visual album. I was in the living room of my tiny apartment, sitting under a hard hat bonnet dryer, frying all kinds of brain cells in the hopes that my locs would stay curled for an all-white party I was sure to be late to.
The album was going to be released on HBO, but on my grad student budget, I barely had access to basic cable. So I scrambled on my smartphone to download a music-streaming service. I quickly set up a trial account to watch the album premiere, all while sitting under the dryer and scorching the back of my neck.
Over the loud blare and intense blast of heat, I watched, my mouth agape at the incredible range of Beyoncé’s storytelling: hurt, delicious rage, boldness, strength, beauty and vulnerability. In her music videos I saw Black womanhood in its many forms, on full display and being played to sick beats.
And okay, I can hear the collective sighs from those outside the “Beyhive,” as Beyoncé’s fan club is known, who just don't get why so many men, women and children lose their absolute minds at the mere mention of the Queen. Putting aside her unbelievable vocals, iconic dance routines, bedazzled leotards and sheer talent, Beyoncé also has an insane work ethic, discipline, creativity, vision, leadership and laser focus in executing the full production that is Beyoncé herself.
I believe Beyoncé represents untethered freedom for Black women. Freedom to be as Black, country, hood or ghetto fabulous as you want to be. Freedom to dip it, pop it, twerk it, stop it as much as you want. Freedom to be a genius in your own right, to create on your own terms and to exude Black Feminism, capital B, capital F.
I believe Black women possess deep intellect, creativity, strength, beauty and a unique rhythm in moving through the world. But oftentimes, we are told that we do not. We are told to dim it down. Or in our efforts to just live, we forget this about ourselves.
So in those moments, I take a sip of lemonade to remind myself I can be great. I am great, and in the words of Beyoncé, it's time to get in formation.
Wideline Seraphin is a doctoral student in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State.