Bow Down 🐝

‘Lemonade’ Is Not for Latinas — But We Still Chugging It

May 3, 2016
Lemonade cover art

It’s been more than a week. Matter fact, it’s been nine days, three hours, and 26 minutes since Beyoncé dropped “Lemonade” (if you’re counting from the HBO premiere April 23 at 9 p.m. EST).

And I’m still obsessing. “All Night” is on replay as I type. It’s my fav.

I’ve been thinking and thinking about WTF to write since then. Plenty of incredible journalists have already written about the album—especially Black women (Luvvie, Melissa Harris-Perry, Zandria F. Robinson) given that “Lemonade” is an ode to them and their struggle.

I respect that, which is why I hadn’t written anything. After all, what do I, a Latina, have to say about it? Sure, I’m a woman, and any woman can feel where Bey is coming from on this album—heartbreak, betrayal, the struggle of being a ride-or-die. I even wondered, “What would a Latina version of “Lemonade” be? Horchata?” That sounded mad corny, though, and a bit insensitive to the fact that the album isn’t about—or for—Latinas. Sure, that doesn’t mean we can’t bump it, love it, and bow the fuck down to it and our Queen Bey. But it’s the truth. “Lemonade” ain’t for us. And that’s OK.

I realized this, but I hadn’t realized what that meant. Maria Rodriguez-Morales at HuffPo did.

Latinas don’t have a Beyoncé, someone in pop culture to mainstream our story, make it digestible for everyone.

Rodriguez-Morales writes:

“We don’t have a mainstream pop culture phenom that is creating the kind of art that encompasses all of who we are. We don’t have a mainstream pop artist that has taken the risk to give us an intergenerational work of art that celebrates us in all our complexities. We don’t have a mainstream pop artist willing to politicize what it means to be Latina or even an Afro-Latina in America. We don’t have a mainstream pop artist using her agency to make a socio-political statement.”

Word.

I’m jealous, man. I can’t front. Latinas got some mean-ass struggles. They’re different than that of the Black woman, but they’re real. Where’s our queen at? Maybe I’m out of tune on my Latina artists, but, if I don’t know about them, doesn’t that prove my point? Everybody knows about Beyoncé, even if someone doesn’t listen to her music. Her music isn’t for a specific type of person. She makes pop, and some don’t like it, but they’ll know about it. Bey will make damn sure they do.

It bums me out that Latinas don’t got that sort of icon. Maybe Selena could have been it. Maybe. Who the fuck knows?

I don’t know why we don’t have our own Beyoncé, but I do know that Latinos, in general, are often kicked to the curb. The Black-and-White binary narrative put out isn’t all that inclusive. We don’t hear much about the brown. When we do, it’s often related to immigration. Latinos are more than immigrants. We have more to offer than our thoughts on the border. We are a people full of culture, a people rooted in dance and music. (Hello, salsa?! And no, not the dip.)

Then again, Beyoncé is one of a kind. (Haters, sit down. I know this is where y’all gonna’ get mad.) Could there ever be another version of her? Probably not. Someone that authentic, which is particularly true for this album, can’t be replicated.

I know “Lemonade” isn’t for me, but I’m still drinking that shit. Straight chugging it. Any woman, especially a woman from the hood who knows the struggle, can relate to this. Men—Black, White, brown—can be some sons of bitches.

One of my brother’s friends once told me something along the lines of, “No nigga will ever be faithful. That don’t mean we don’t love our girls, but it’s the truth. Any nigga that says he ain’t cheating is lying.”

I don’t believe that, but that stuck. I still remember that. His mentality, his thinking toward women, toward men, toward himself. And that’s the reality of many men who’ve been raised to think in that hypermasculine way. It’s sad. And it’s a pervasive cycle that comes back to haunt their women.

So shout out to my ladies—especially to the Queen—who are strong enough to go through love’s highs and lows. To the ladies who will ride or die for their man. To the ladies who won’t let love die.

Because I could never. Maybe that’s why I’m alone. Oh, well. At least I got my “Lemonade.”

Photo courtesy of Beyoncé Knowles Carter/Lemonade Digital Booklet

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