A unique take on Beyoncé’s 2016 album and video “Lemonade” and its implications for 21st-century black feminism.
Part academic study, part personal reflection on being black and queer, and part unabashed homage to Beyoncé, this essay collection is what Tinsley (African and African Diaspora Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies/Univ. of Texas; Ezili's Mirrors: Imagining Black Queer Genders, 2018, etc.) calls a “Femme-onade mixtape.” The opening piece, “Queen Bee Blues,” looks at Beyoncé’s musical relationship to female blues and country musicians such as Memphis Minnie and Loretta Lynn. Like the love-scorned woman Beyoncé portrays in her album and video, which critics saw as her response to husband Jay-Z’s infidelity—Minnie knew how to turn “lemons into lemonade…and sex into power” while Lynn knew how to fight back against her husband’s excesses and abuse. In “Love the Grind,” Tinsley explores the many incarnations of powerful black womanhood that Beyoncé portrays—most notably, the African sorceress Oshun and the divine Afro-Brazilian whore, Pomba Gira. Not only do both represent the sex-positive black feminism “unafraid to say fuck me,” but also black Southern “ratchet feminism,” which is “unafraid to say fuck you to patriarchy’s rules.” The author also discusses the increasingly political nature of Beyoncé’s work. In “Freedom, Too,” Tinsley points to Beyoncé’s inclusion of the “Mothers of the [Black Lives Matter] Movement” in videos and public appearances. Not only does their presence “[denounce] police brutality”; it also suggests the singer’s commitment to creating a world where black people can find the peace and security that Tinsley (who is married to a black transgender man) has struggled to find for herself and her family. Sure to appeal to scholars and pop-culture enthusiasts alike, this provocative book works to blur the lines between straight and gay black feminism by arguing that “any ideal of black womanhood…doesn’t have to carry the label ‘queer’ to be…related to black femme self-expression.”
Lively and intelligent reading.