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OpEd: Before You Drink Lemonade, Make Emotional Health a Priority

Beyoncé served us "tea" and Lemonade, and we can't stop thinking or buzzing about it. The video is artistic and visually stunning. And somewhere buried in all that art are lots of takeaways for all of us Black women.

The lyrics and spoken word express so much of the pain and sadness Black women experience daily. We know about betrayal and abuse. We know about obsession and love lost. And we know about being sick and tired of being sick and tired. But as Bey showed, we're also strong and resilient enough to move past those stages and toward "resurrection," "hope" and "redemption." That's how we transform into our best and healthiest selves and develop real and healthy relationships.

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Black women are nurturers and fixers. We put it all on the line for love. So in our discussions of Beyoncé and her personal life, we must remember that in our own lives, we have to truly fight to give and receive love in a healthy way. When we bring all of our hurt, pain and distrust into a relationship, life is like swimming upstream every day, all day. It's stressful and takes a toll not just on our emotional health, but our physical health, too, making us more likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, depression and even breast cancer.

We won't be able to make real Black Girl Magic and have healthy, positive relationships until we make our emotional health a priority. We have to learn to love and forgive ourselves and, in turn, we will be better equipped to love and forgive others.

What Lemonade says is interesting. But it is just one lens, with a sensationalized filter designed to sell the music. Hot mess looks better when you're an international superstar and are always flawless, no matter what happens. But for most of us, dysfunction is not so glamorous. We don't get to turn it off when the director says "it's a wrap." It's time for more of us to share our stories of how we've weathered our emotional storms so our sisters learn how to overcome.

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Together we can bust the myths entertainment perpetuates - that Black women are unlovable and not enough. That we are not smart enough or beautiful enough. Myths that often cause us to question our worthiness of having love that lasts. Just as Lemonade opened up a discussion about infidelity and broken hearts, we need to start our own conversations about loving ourselves enough to take care of our emotional health.

At the Black Women's Health Imperative, we celebrate the resiliency of Black female artists who are having their say. Music is transformative, and it has the power to change lives. It tells the artists' stories, but the very best stories are the real ones that allow us to grow and heal. It is time to rise past our emotional pain and choose to love ourselves so that we can love others and be loved. Then we can really enjoy a tall glass of Lemonade.

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