Beyonce – BLACK PARADE | Lyrics Meaning & Song Review
Beyonce released a brand new track in celebration of Juneteenth, amidst the global pandemic and protests going all over the world. She intends to spread some positivity with this song as she explains on Instagram;
Happy Juneteenth Weekend! I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle. Please continue to remember our beauty, strength, and power.
“BLACK PARADE” celebrates you, your voice, and your joy and will benefit Black-owned small businesses.
The proceeds of this song will be going towards BeyGOOD Black Business Impact Fund, which supports small businesses owned by African Americans.
What is Juneteenth?
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Originating in Texas, it is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were free. [Source: Wikipedia]
Listen to “BLACK PARADE” by Beyonce
Meaning of “BLACK PARADE” by Beyonce
Beyonce references her hometown Houston, Texas as ‘south.’ However, ‘south’ also could refer to ‘South Africa’ which is often considered to be the birthplace of humanity and the home soil of African Americans. She calls ‘south’ as her roots, and in the song, she is going back to her roots. Beyonce also references the ‘Baobabs’ tree which is native to the African sub-continent.
‘Ankh’ is an ancient Egyptian symbol representing the word ‘life,’ and often called ‘Key of Life.’ ‘Oshun’ is yet another reference to Egyptian mythology. Oshun is the goddess of divinity, femininity, fertility, beauty and love.
‘Dashiki’ is a colourful clothing design type mostly common in African culture.
All these references to African culture, history, and love, make the first verse of “BLACK PARADE” one of the most effective verses on the song.
However, the verse isn’t without references to the unnecessary discrimination against African Americans all throughout history. Somehow, everyone else seems to be mad, “big mad,” at Blacks. Why? Even Beyonce fails to see a reason why Africans are treated differently: is the colour of the skin that much of a bane?
In the chorus of the song, Beyonce assumes a position of the leader/voice of the Black community in suffering. She is the Queen Bee of the hive, and this song is her marching parade. And if anyone talks smack about her bees (people), she would unleash her swarm of bees on them, just like this song does.
Every song on racial oppression does not have to drive everyone towards a struggle. A song can also help people rebuild like “BLACK PARADE” does by donating proceeds to BeyGOOD Black Business Impact Fund.
In the second verse, Beyonce starts off with the singer standing up as an icon of Black culture and Black everything. Being an artist of Black skin, many would have never imagined Beyonce to reach heights she has reached. With her partner, rapper and producer, Jay-Z, they are one of the most powerful and influential couples in the world.
‘Jigga’ is a nickname for Jay-Z, and Beyonce jokes about her ‘fifty eleven’ children with Jay-Z. Beyonce has three kids, and fourth is her massive career, which probably accounts for 50 more children.
The latter part of the second verse has Beyonce supporting the protests towards true equality between all skin colours. Obviously, the inspiration for this song and this section in particular would have been drawn from worlwide protests demanding justice for George Floyd, who was murdered by Minnesota policemen.
The police has been using rubber bullets to stop the protests. Beyonce says they just bounce off of her in the long term vision of these protests. Biting through some rubber bullets is a small price to pay compared to the end goal.
Mansa Musa, was the tenth Mansa of the Mali Empire, an Islamic West African state. He has been described as the wealthiest individual of the Middle Ages. As a gold producing nation, Mansa is estimated to have accumulated a wealth of 400 billion dollars in modern currency. This reference in the song is a gesture at the prosperity of Blacks in the history.
Towards the end of the second verse on “BLACK PARADE,” Beyonce drops some influential names in the history; Curtis Mayfield, Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr., and her own mother Tina Knowles. Beyonce also namedrops Tamika Mallory, an activist and a strong voice for Black Lives Matter movement.
Lastly, Beyonce focuses on Black beauty, talking about their hair. She proudly advocates dreads and shrivel hairstyles, which are inehrited by African Americans.
But most of all, she wants her swarm of bees to show what Black love looks like! Love solves all problems…!
Beyonce throws a massive shoutout to the motherland of all humanity: Africa. It truly is a continent of wonder, prosperity and humanity, until they were invaded, slaughtered and enslaved. Beyonce wants us to remember this place of magic and birth, and its love spreading all throughout the world.
Let us hear what you think about this song and what it means to you in the comments below. Check out the full lyrics and further meaning breakdown on Genius.