How I Became 'WOKE' in Motherhood (just like Beyonce')

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

This is NOT an essay about how much I love Queen Bey (even tho I heart her for real) and her new album Lemonade. This is more about a shared existence with her, as a mother, and about the painful journey of becoming 'woke.' Her album shows me she's there. WOKE as FUCK, like so many  women and mothers before her.

Becoming a mother changes you. Physically and emotionally, you’re re-made when you become a mother. Part of this change, may include becoming ‘woke.’

Being ‘woke’ is gaining a higher level of social consciousness. It means you see the painful truths of injustice. You worry that your children will experience these same injustices or worse. Being woke means you can never again feel complacent. And you will never rest again. 

When we drink Beyoncé’s Lemonade, we’re being rightfully forced to absorb our societal sweets and sours. The sweetness of #BlackGirlMagic, the sugary high of being a strong black woman and raising strong black girls. But also we soak in the sour truths behind why the #BlackLivesMatter campaign exists at all right now. Namely, it exists because black people are being subjected to police brutality and racial inequality in our criminal justice system.

Beyoncé’s recipe for Lemonade is indeed delicious. I want to guzzle those intoxicating lyrics and raw vocals by the gallons full. As I stay sugar-high and drunk on Beyoncé’s Lemonade I have a very sobering moment. I realize I’m so addicted because, just like the mothers before her, including myself – Beyoncé is WOKE.

I recognize she’s a 'woke' mother, just like me.


As a little girl, I was always surrounded by women who chanted, “Girl Power!” and “Girls Rule, Boys Drool!” They were repeating the self-confident slogans of the 1990’s. My mother, my grandmother and aunties told me I was strong and that I had power.

However, just like the inevitable and threatening clouds that hover before a thunderstorm, the lightning rod of truth was going to strike at any moment and leave a girl shaken and a shell of a person.

My story of teenage assault, is sadly, not uncommon. As a teen I was harassed, assaulted and abused by different young men in school and outside of school. Several actually. I’ll spare you the possibly triggering details, but I can tell you, I quickly deduced from these heinous offenses against me, that I was not strong. I was weak. I was not worthy of love. Not even love for myself.

In my post college career the message was very much the same, without the violence. You must work longer, harder and get paid less than your male co-workers. AKA– your contributions are worthless.
What was my worth? I felt like "girl power" was a myth. Like I was fed lies. Like my fore-mothers betrayed me.

After a certain amount of gashes against me, I was tired. It was exhausting trying to decipher and decode the subtle snubs I experienced on a daily basis. Like is this sexual harassment, or is he just being nice? Am I really a sucky worker, or am I being treated unfairly? It was distracting. Should I report this? What will happen to me if I do? Will I lose my job? Will I be taken seriously? 

To survive I accepted my fate as less than and weak. I believed if I complied with misogynistic and discriminatory environments with restraint and serious tongue-biting, I'd eventually come out on top. 

After all, the girl that speaks up doesn’t get the praise, and the woman that speaks up doesn’t get the raise. 

If I ever wanted the promotion, I had to work harder, for less money and never, ever complain about it. If I wanted any man to not abuse me or cheat on me, I should try to stifle my “difficult” character traits. I should be agreeable and non-opinionated. I should show no emotion.

Because we all know what happens to women who get caught being mad while female.

Getting mad while being female is about the worst and most damning offense you can launch against yourself. Just ask Queen Bey (Beyonce’). She’s getting publicly slammed for being mad about black mothers losing their sons. She’s getting mud slung her way for being mad about the way residents in New Orleans were treated post-Katrina. Hell, she’s even getting flogged for calling out her allegedly cheating husband, and being pissed about it in a song. But Beyoncé isn’t hiding her anger any longer.

There comes a time in most women’s lives, when you get fed up. You get fed up politically, socially, at work, in your marriage and in your friendships.You are woke, and nothing can stop you. 




By being woke, Beyonce is telling her daughter, that a woman is allowed to get mad when she is wronged, and she is allowed to get mad when others are wronged.

In motherhood, I slowly started to realize I couldn’t let my daughters endure what I’ve endured. And there was no way in hell I was going to ever rest until I did everything in my power to change their fate. In a few words, I got fed the fuck up with how this world treats people – women, black people, Muslims, transgender people – everyone.

Being woke is challenging because people will say “you’re too sensitive,” and “you’re just being dramatic.” They’ll criticize you for over-analyzing things. They’ll say you’ve changed.

Critics of Beyoncé’s new ‘Lemonade’ album say she’s changed.

Are people not allowed to change their minds anymore? I can’t imagine thinking the same way I did even two years ago – let alone the same way I thought 10 years ago. That’s absurd. People change their thoughts and beliefs all throughout their 20s, 30s, 40s and so on. We are a sum of our experiences, it’s impossible not to change.

And yes Beyoncé’s music has changed. Isn’t’ that the mark of a good artist? An ever-evolving sound?

I'd also like to point out that in the beginning of her career, Beyoncé was doing what many black women have done before her. She made herself palatable and marketable to the white masses for many years. She diluted herself. And I’m not knockin’ her for it. You do whatcha gotta do.

As a woman, I’ve done the same thing professionally. I’ve watered my work down to make it easier to swallow. To not make waves. Or invoke conflict. Now granted, I don’t claim to have experienced the same amount of discrimination as Beyoncé or any other black woman. But, if you’re a woman, there’s a good chance you’ve been discriminated against in the workplace.

Hell, I’ve had to dilute myself just to get some playdates for my kids. No one wants to hang with the mom that admits she effing hates the PTA and crafts, and isn’t sorry for any of it.

That’s the thing about being woke, you start purging your social circle. You start selecting your tribe more carefully. The company you kept before being woke no longer seems to suit you. And that’s fine, lives and relationships have seasons. 




The stage of wokeness that Beyoncé is at – is exactly where I’m at in the journey to woke motherhood. Defend and dream. We won’t be silenced any more. We won’t be quiet because certain topics make people uncomfortable. We’re singing out (well, she is – I have a HORRIBLE voice) from the rooftops that we WILL not take these gashes against. We won’t let it go down any longer.



And just like Beyoncé dreams for herself and for her daughter, I dream of a world that is better than this. Better than all the hate. Better than the injustices. But as Beyoncé has learned, it’s not just about dreaming. It’s about being active in our truths every day. And that’s exactly what she’s doing as an artist, a woman and a mother. It’s what all of us mothers are called to do.

We MUST speak our truths, loud and clear, no matter the consequences. No matter the backlash. Because at the end of the day, our kids will remember that we didn’t just dream it. We did it. For them.





2 comments:

  1. awesome read my daughter just is turning 5 months old and a lot of the things you've written really hits home! Thanks

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    Replies
    1. It makes me happy to hear that my writing resonates with you. Thank you for taking the time to tell me so. Congrats on your new baby!

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