The unleashing of Lemonade on the world this past weekend was done in markedly Beyoncé fashion: preceded by an hour-long conceptual film based on the music; accompanied by stunning video imagery; and spawning the inevitable barrage of think pieces on Queen Bey herself, her evolution as a cultural phenomenon, and her relationship with husband Jay Z. But what was most striking about Lemonade was Beyoncé's blackness, a topic never so heavily invoked in her work before.
When her single, Formation, was released a few months ago, the music video's representation of the black South and the Black Lives Matter movement received both high praise and harsh criticism that she was anti-police and race-baiting. Lemonade, an entire album dedicated to the celebration of black women, only further fueled the discussion.
Among her critics was TV personality Piers Morgan, who penned an op-ed in Daily Mail Online taking issue with Beyoncé's pronouncement of her blackness. "I preferred the old Beyoncé. The less inflammatory, agitating one," Morgan wrote. "The one who didn't play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily."
Enter Orange Is The New Black actor and vocal intersectional feminist Matt McGorry, who fired back at Morgan's accusation that Bey was playing the race card in a series of delightfully cognizant tweets:
A man who loves his mom can still be a misogynist, right? I don't believe that saying you have "huge respect" for her (as an artist & businesswoman) doesn't mean you can't also be supporting racism (unbeknownst to you). It's no different than saying you have "black friends" and therefore can't be racist. Do you agree with that?
"I think I'm allowed to critique Beyoncé's new very political work without being branded racist, @MattMcGorry," Morgan tweeted in response.
But the OITNB actor continued:
I think it depends what aspect of the work you're critiquing. If you don't like the melodies that's one thing. But if you're critiquing her way of speaking about her experiences as a black woman (something you and I will never experience) you are essentially colluding with the status quo (which is the silencing and discrimination of black women). Truth is, no one sees themselves as racist. I can even imagine the KKK saying, "We aren't racist it's just that black people..." Racism exists on a spectrum and you don't have to "feel hateful" to be doing a disservice to anti-racism and thus, supporting racism. Make sense?
To be sure, McGorry doesn't seem particularly interested in starting a feud with Morgan; it just sounds like the man is of the powerfully woke opinion that a white dude's criticism of a black woman's art as "too black" and "too political" not only does a disservice to the progress toward racial equality, but is also dismissive of her experiences in a system stacked largely against black women.
Cover image via Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com.