I was 16 years old when my entire life changed. It was the second week of my sophomore year in high school and I walked into my language arts class and saw the projector screen paused on Beyoncé’s Formation music video. I sat down in my assigned seat and for the next hour, a renaissance transpired within me. My teacher, Ms. Ballinger, talked about Beyoncé’s Lemonade album and how it was a change in Beyoncé’s career. There was already a ripple in the pond for Beyoncé in her self-titled album prior to “Lemonade.” Before self-titled, Beyoncé’s music was like a diary filled with observations of the outside world. With Lemonade and self-titled, we saw a more intimate and vulnerable side of the courageous, powerhouse singer.
In a world where it feels that the whole world is constantly against women, Beyoncé’s music is as refreshing as lemonade. Her lyrics are everlasting, growing with me as I’ve aged from a 16-year-old high schooler to the 23-year-old woman I am today. And this year, my dream as a proud member of the “Beyhive” finally came true. I can now say I’ve seen the queen live! Two weeks ago, I packed my bags with every single silver item in my possession and went to go see Beyoncé at her Renaissance World Tour show at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium on Sept. 1.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see her now-viral birthday show, but I was there the first night when we got to hear the “Forbidden Three” which are “Drunk In Love,” “Thique,” and “All Up In Your Mind.” Two nights after I saw her perform, Beyoncé celebrated her 42nd birthday with fans, alongside artists Diana Ross and Kendrick Lamar on Sept. 4. During her B-day show, Beyoncé gave a speech where she talked about how grateful she was for turning 42. In a Los Angeles Times article, Marrisa Evans discussed how big of a deal it was to celebrate the milestone.
“The reality is, too many Black women don’t make it to 42 and too many are not celebrated. We’re dying from childbirth. We’re dying from violence. We’re going missing and hardly anyone is looking for us. We’re overlooked and undervalued. In an era when the pleas and battle cries of ‘support Black women’ and ‘protect Black women’ often ring hollow. Displays of reverence and joy over Black women’s existence is often fleeting,” Evans wrote. “When Black women attempt to celebrate their achievements and survival when others won’t or to speak their truth about experiences with racism, prejudice, violence and misogynoir, there’s a virtual shushing that tends to happen.”
For me, the “Lemonade” album was what drew me into the Beyhive. To see someone, a woman, speaking out about the injustices that Black women face whether it’s political or personal, in such an outspoken way with visuals and hard lyrics, I felt something great. Now I know this album wasn’t made for me, but as a Latina and as a woman, it spoke to me. As a Latina, we often face the challenges of being overlooked or disregarded because people think we can’t succeed in a system that wasn’t built for us, Latinxs, to overcome. Pero sí se puede (It can be done). Beyoncé’s impact is so great that it can touch anyone’s heart. You don’t have to like her music, but you do have to admire her courage to speak up for others and to speak her mind (which you can thank Solange for!)
Beyoncé’s music has always been there for me. After school on that momentous day, I remember I ran into my room and quickly put on “Lemonade.” For the next couple of days, it was all up in my mind. I went deeper and deeper into the hive trying to get a glimpse of the queen Bey. I listened to more of her music and I watched interviews, documentaries and music videos. One thing I immediately loved about Beyoncé was her work ethic. All of my life I was told that I needed to work harder than the rest of my peers because opportunities that are easy for others to get are less obtainable for me as a Latina. For a while, if I was at a crossroads or feeling unmotivated, I would just ask myself “What would Beyoncé do?” and that would get me moving. Beyoncé taught me to never settle for less when it came to work, school or my personal life.
At 17, I was cuffed up in this draining toxic relationship, but songs like “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and “Hold Up” got me out. I tweeted lyrics to “Hold Up,” specifically the line, “What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you.” The toxic then-boyfriend read my tweet while he was skateboarding and almost simultaneously, he fell. So thanks to Bey, karma was already coming back around. Things were coming up Beyoncé!
Going to see Beyoncé this year, I couldn’t help but think back on the 16-year-old girl that I used to be. As I walked up to the SoFi Stadium and saw fans dressed in silver with sparkling cowboy hats, I thought about the impact Beyonce has on all of our lives. I thought about how I went from being this shy, lost girl to a more confident and secure woman. I remembered the nights when I would cry about life or relationships and I would put on Beyoncé’s music to feel better. Before a big exam or important job interview, Beyoncé would be blasting through my headphones to pump me up five minutes before.
Beyoncé brought the beat back so we could all breathe again. The Renaissance album and tour markedly pays tribute to the ballroom scene and celebrates the LGBTQIA+ community. She provides a safe space to dance and belt out songs for fans of all ages as she includes samples and covers of songs from the ‘60s through today in her setlist. With heart-thumping bass and vocals as smooth as velvet, Beyoncé once again came to slay and prove that she is forever that girl.
At the concert, the stadium lights dimmed and screens turned black. A moment later, the image of a blue sky came on. Anticipation filled the air as piece by piece, a picture of Beyoncé laid out in one of her iconic Renaissance outfits came on screen. All of a sudden, I heard a comforting voice say, “Los Angeles… Los Angeles! We love you!” and there she was. The one-of-one, the number one, the only one, BEYONCÉ! I was going apesh*t in my seat! Tears poured down my face as it hit me that I was in the presence of the woman who had continuously inspired me so greatly in my life and who had healed me through her music. Who would’ve thought that almost exactly seven years after I discovered Beyoncé, I would get the chance to see her live?