What #BeyTaughtMe

During my TEDx talk, to introduce me, the host quoted Beyoncé. During a business panel event, I quoted beyoncé among a group of over qualified young business school graduates. I make my friends call me ‘beyoncé-in-the-making’. I even refer to myself as the ‘Beyoncé of Global Health’. All of this to say, Beyoncé has a strong influence on me. I would not refer to myself as a #Beyhive but I am proud to call myself a Beyoncé fan. I dream of the days that Bey, Jay, me and my future hot husband, will sip some champagne over the French mediterranean sea.

I will never forget the day the video for the song Formation, from Beyoncé’s Lemonade album came out. I was seating at the Simon Fraser University downtown library overlooking hastings street downtown Vancouver. Just when I was about to fall asleep editing my final master’s paper, I go on twitter and everyone is going crazy over Beyoncé’s newly release video. I searched the net to find it, even youtube at the time did not have it, where the heck were people finding this video? Finally, some sketchy website had it, I watched the video 30 times in one seating, no joke. Since then, I continue to play the album over and over again in my car. Here are key lesson learned and takeaways from my favourite songs in the album Lemonade; #BeyTaughtMe

Song #3 - Don’t Hurt Yourself
When in a relationship, and your partner is getting too comfortable and you need to remind him/her what they got, well this song will motivate you. More importantly, this song speaks to the fact that, women are often known for being the ‘crazy one’ in the relationship, well, Bey tells us that craziness often stems from not feeling appreciated or respected in the relationship, and reclaiming your voice as a woman.

Song #4 - Sorry
Plain and simple: If your boo ain’t acting right, tell him he’s got to go.

Song #5 - 6 inch
This song shines the light on the hard work of sex workers, strippers, and what ever else you want to call it. I work in health, and sex workers are key populations that are a top priority. Beyoncé does an incredible job at acknowledging the hard work of these women, whom society often shames. You may not agree with it as a profession, but it is important to remember that, one does not fall into such a profession by choice, rather, due to unfavoured circumstances. To quote Missy Elliot “Girls, Girls, get that cash whether it’s nine to five or shaking your a**. Ain’t no shame, ladies. Do your thang, just make sure you’re ahead of the game.”

Song #6 - Daddy Lessons
For many women, there is a lot of admiration towards their fathers. For others, there is resentment or hurt. For Beyoncé, there is both. While she admires her father for protecting her at a young age, and molding her to be a strong woman; she express a fear of ending up with a man who shares similarities to the flaws of her dad. A genuine fear that many women share.

Song #10 - Freedom
The #BlackLivesMatter movement really reshaped the 21st century view of the United States social justice system. While police brutality, transcended historic slavery inequities continues, the use of social media to raise awareness on the ongoing unfair treatment and struggles faced by the african american community, really impacted all of us. Beyoncé in collaboration with Kendrick Lamar (one of my favourite rappers), calls the entire african american community to wake up, stand up, unite and take ownership while preserving despite the struggles ahead. What is even more admirable about the words and visualization of this song, is how the lyrics makes one aware of the unfairness they will face living in the US, but encourages you to fight the fight.

Song #12 - Formation
Lord have mercy! Where do I begin? Literally the first time I saw the video for Formation, I cried. I know it sounds crazy, but as Beyoncé is drowning on that police car in News Orleans, the tears were falling down my face. From the american government shortcomings in addressing the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina aftermath; calling black women to not settle for just any men but go for equality (‘he/I might just be a black bill gates-in-the-making’); the lack of black billionaires out there; cultural pride; and let’s keep it real, this song is really For Us, By Us Black Women (FUBU for #MelaninQueens).
I could write an essay about my admiration for Beyoncé in her ability to share her life and career trajectory with the average 18-35 year old woman in the 21st century, or how her tenacity and confidence continues to inspire me to be unapologetic about mine, and let’s not forget the fact that she is one of the only women of colour we have as a public figure to look up too, #BeyTaughtMe so much.

Watch my TEDx video here:

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