Early in May, I visited a friend who works with college students at her office. When I walked in, I saw she had two students doing a puzzle. They seemed harried, exhausted, and honestly, a bit deflated.
“I fell asleep during the last test . . . twice,” one remarked as she stared bleakly at the puzzle piece in her hand.
“You may need more than a puzzle. This may be a case for Beyonce therapy, “ I offered.
The male student, who had been quite focused on the puzzle, finally made eye contact with me. He was not amused.
“I don’t really get what all the buzz is about that new video,” he stated with intensity. “It’s not art. It’s . . . well . . . and from what I have read, it’s not even supposed to be for white people.”
Ah, yes. I, too, have read those sentiments on the interwebs. And, like early Lauryn Hill commenters, I have chosen to ignore them, with respect. Why? Because I can’t help but connect with her new work.
Is this an essay about racism? Or, the (non-existent) reverse racism?
This is an essay about rage and joy.
This is about me. A 41-year-old, white, divorced single mom.
I’m not an “early adopter.” Heck, my theater friends were amazed that I just listened to Hamilton. It should come as no surprise that I hadn’t really clued in to Beyonce other than Zumba classes. My journey to this moment involved a link on a former student’s Facebook page on the day Beyonce’s new video went live.
I was not ready for it.
I wasn’t ready to feel a deep, joy-filled, raging connection to Beyonce while she beautifully walked down a sidewalk wielding a bat in “Hold-Up” (a video/song) in “Lemonade.”
I wasn’t ready to crave riding shotgun as she rolled over cars in a truck, hair flying in slow motion.
I wasn’t ready to feel the depth of the words begging the other person to stop the cheating for the sake of their family?
I wasn’t ready to admit that I understand the “insanity” and utter possession of the those feelings? Not me. I drive a pastel Prius hatchback. I’m an educated professional working mom.
I could never fantasize about running over someone — ahem, someTHING — with a large car. I’m not supposed to have these embodied “jealous and crazy” feelings. Not me. I’ve got it all put together, organized, labelled, and cleanly pressed.
“Well, maybe it’s not your genre.” I tried to ease the student’s discomfort. It was finals week, right? “I think the video is aimed at women who have…been through something similar.” This 20-something, academically-gifted white guy may not find an emotional connection there for him, but I can tell you, many women did.
White women did.
White women who are told to get over it/move on/go to therapy/try yoga/meditation/forgive/forget.
White women who are not allowed to express anger or frustration lest they be cast as “unfit.”
Any variation of woman who has been told she is too emotional.
Or overly sensitive.
Any person who expressed their feelings and was told they were too loud/inappropriate and shamed and/or punished for it.
Which brings me back to Beyonce.
I won’t pretend to understand life as a black female.
I DO, however, wholeheartedly connect with the narrative of complicated and layered feelings over infidelity.
I also understand what it feels like to beg, on my knees, for a person to stop the destruction of our little family.
That, coupled with wanting to take a bat to a someone — ahem, something — because of the gross indecency, disrespect, and disregard.
I deeply understand the fantasy of running over things with cars.
I understand how painful it is when the outside world rushes me, for their comfort, to move through grief to the “I’m ok now” phase.
“Hold Up” may or may not be a part of Beyonce’s story. I don’t think it matters, really. When I watched it, I felt heard. I felt seen. I felt like I had permission to hold my hand up, and say, “Me, too.” And I wouldn’t be alone.
Me, too, ladies.