By: Kristin Helf, Staff Writer
You don’t need me to tell you that “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s newest visual album, premiered on HBO two Saturdays ago.
In fact, you don’t need me to tell you anything about “Lemonade,” because the Internet is thoroughly littered with thinkpieces on the subject—a necessary and expected reaction when Beyoncé blesses us with a new album, especially one that gives us a glimpse into Bey’s personal life (Jay-Z, do better) and touches on intersectional feminism and the Black Lives Matter movement.
I am so here for Beyoncé wielding a baseball bat, smashing car windows and a New Orleans Police Department surveillance camera in the song “Hold Up.” I’m here for the film featuring the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin holding framed pictures of their sons as “Freedom,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, begins to play.
But as much as I love “Lemonade” and the message it conveys, I’m not going to tell you why it’s so awesome—this album wasn’t made for me, and my opinion doesn’t matter so much.
White writers and black writers love Beyoncé all the same, I’m sure, but I encourage you to read the pieces and criticisms by people of color who are writing things. This album was made for them, as it directly pertains to their lives and their experiences in a country whose racial climate, at this point in time, is feigning indifference at best. Instead, I recommend you read Zandria F. Robinson and Michael Arceneaux’s pieces for Rolling Stone and Doreen St. Felix’s “A Love Profane.”
While there’s an inexhaustible source of black writers who can tell you how great “Lemonade” is, I can tell you to stop being offended by the term “Becky.” It’s not a racial slur, guys. At the most, it’s an insult for the overly sensitive.
When Beyoncé alludes to being cheated on in “Sorry,” she refers to her husband’s mistress as “Becky with the good hair.” We don’t know if Becky is Rita Ora, Rachel Roy or Rachel Ray, just that her name probably isn’t really Becky and that some white women are offended at being called such a name.
If you’re still confused, it’s pretty difficult to explain the criteria for being a Becky, but writer Damon Young comes close with a few examples: “Hillary Clinton? Not a Becky. Natalie Portman? Not really a Becky. Taylor Swift? The Beckiest. Iggy Azalea? Darth Becky.”
Men and women of color have been called names much worse than “Becky” for centuries: from similar Becky-esque nicknames like Shanaynay, intended to demean someone and erase the significance of their existence, to actual racial slurs.
If Iggy Azalea convinced you that “Becky” is a racial slur invented by Beyoncé to belittle us white women, instead of just, like, maybe comparing us to Aunt Becky from “Full House”—please remember that Azalea refers to herself as a “runaway slave-master” in her song “D.R.U.G.S.”
Also, Beyoncé definitely didn’t coin the term “Becky”—Sir Mix-a-Lot did. Anyway, next time someone calls you Becky, just laugh it off. Or mention how beautiful Lori Loughlin, aka Aunt Becky, still is at 51 years old.