Landscapes, Memories, and History in Beyoncé’s Lemonade

HBGN member LaKisha Simmons wrote about black feminist performance and historical memory in Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade for UNC Press blog.


“At Laura Plantation, also along the river, in 1830 Nanette Prud’homme Duparc, the matriarch of her family, improved the family business by going to the city and buying thirty teenaged girls. Ten years later she had her first “crop of children.” Her wealth and her business relied on breeding slaves, relied on black women’s reproductive power.

In “Forgiveness” Beyoncé recites: 1,000 girls raise their arms. Do you remember being born? Are you grateful? Are the hips that cracked the deep velvet of your mother, and her mother, and her mother? There is a curse that will be broken.

The black ancestors that are remembered in Lemonade are the “crop of children” and their mothers…

Beyoncé is calling for black women to be made whole after centuries of loss. In particular, black women have lost their children past and present. In the past are the girls who gave birth to “crops of children” through the sexual violence of slavery; in the present we see a representation of various forms of loss: loss from miscarriage, and the mothers who have lost children to racial violence.

Pull the sorrow from between my legs like silk, knot after knot, after knot.  “

Read the whole post here: UNC Press Blog

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