Unless you've been living under a rock, you have heard about Beyoncé's stunning new visual album Lemonade. And if you have kids who are between the ages of 10 and, oh, 80 who are into pop music, it's safe to assume that they have too. There's been a lot of talk about the album as it relates to Beyoncé and Jay-Z's marriage with allegations of cheating as one of the central themes. But there are a lot of diversity themes for kids to talk about embedded throughout. Use it as a way to talk about any number of the themes below or within the context of your child's interests. Music is very powerful so use it to bond and learn with your child. I'm pretty sure they'll be listening to it anyway...
Race: Queen Bey does not shy away from highlighting African-American culture in this album. She pays homage to the Black Lives Matter movement and specifically to the Black men who have been killed recently (e.g. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin) and their families. She includes footage from a speech by Malcolm X. Even her much-discussed comment about 'Becky with the good hair' is a racial reference. It's not all about cheating - that line has to do with perceptions of beauty in society. An important discussion for any curly-haired girl.
Gender: This album is really centered around Black women - just watch it through and that'll immediately become clear. Bey showcases female empowerment, but also female vulnerability. While this is important to talk about with the young women in your life, it should also be a topic of conversation with men and boys as well. The themes presented are just as important to them.
Region: This visual album appears to me to be distinctly Southern. I'm a proud New Yorker and even though I now live just south of the Mason-Dixon, Southern culture is not something I'm very familiar with. I know that New Orleans culture is featured pretty prominently with many of the traditions and festivals unique to the area on display in several songs. I definitely plan to learn more about some of the images I saw. Do the same with your teens & tweens!
Socioeconomic Status/Class: In one of the interludes between songs, a man talks about the significance of meeting the President. One of the things he mentions is that the President is from the 'hood just like him: Chi-Raq (aka Chicago & a Spike Lee movie). It appeared that it was important for Beyoncé to show the reality for people who don't necessarily have a lot of money, opportunity, or hope (as the man who met Obama described).
Sexual Orientation: This one is brief in the visual album, but in 'All Night' Queen Bey shows examples of couples in love. A few of those are same-sex couples. This is done without fanfare (which can be even more powerful), but it's there.
Age: Beyoncé mostly showcases Black people, especially women, in the visual album and she shows women of all ages. There appears to be a celebration of females; from young girls to 90-year-old women - especially in the song 'Freedom'.
There are so many ways to go about actually talking about this album with your teen or tween. Here are some potential areas of interest. Pick your child's favorite and start the conversation:
So dive right in! It will definitely be entertaining and as you and your teen/tween continue to have discussions. You are sure to learn something together. Let me know how it goes. What was challenging? What interested your child the most? Where did you start? Most importantly, which was everyone's favorite song?!? Leave a comment below.
**A quick disclaimer: The lyrics of this album are quite explicit. There are sexual themes and profanity (in my opinion, not much worse than most PG-13 movies nowadays). If you are concerned about that, listen to the album beforehand. But keep in mind, that your child may be able to see the album even if you don't approve. Just something to consider...
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Dr. Sweeney is a licensed school psychologist and cultural competence expert. Here are her musings on life in a multicultural world.
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Photos used under Creative Commons from ri Sa, Berries.com, Bread for the World, NCinDC, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Sharon Mollerus, Andrew and Annemarie, pang yu liu, Simon Blackley, Tambako the Jaguar, quinn.anya, Fiseha Hailemichael, Soft-Graphix, maeve_ab9, vastateparksstaff, StockMonkeys.com