Beyoncé surprised the world overnight with a new song, Black Parade. Released in the final hours of Juneteenth, the holiday observing the June 19, 1865 date which marked the end of slavery in the United States, the song sounds like an outright celebration. The Juneteenth release date is especially deliberate, coming from Beyoncé, a proud Texas artist: The commemoration itself is tied directly to the day the enslaved in Texas were finally informed of their freedom, two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m for us, all Black,” she boasts on the track. “All chrome, Black-owned.” According to Beyoncé’s website, proceeds from Black Parade will support Black-owned small businesses in need, through the singer’s BeyGOOD initiative. Additionally, the site lists a directory of Black-owned businesses — the “Black Parade Route” — curated by Zerina Akers, founder of Black Owned Everything, and “wardrobe curator” for celebrities like Beyoncé and Parkwood Entertainment artists Chloe x Halle.
“Being Black is your activism,” the post tied to the song’s release states. Music is Beyoncé’s form of protest. Outside of the studio, her commitments to Black liberation remain palatable and polite; in an Instagram video discussing George Floyd‘s death posted in May, she calmly calls for petitions and prayer. But on wax, she’s vocal and vexed: “Need peace and reparation for my people,” she sings at one point in the song. “F*** these laid edges, I’ma let it shrivel up / F*** this fade and waves, I’ma let it dread all up.” With these lines, Bey is defenestrating respectability politics, especially those that come with policing Black self-expression.
Throughout the song, Beyoncé casually weaves those references into one another, shouting out the Egyptian Ankh symbol, and name-dropping Osun, a goddess of the Yoruba religion based in Nigeria. She takes it a step further and expands to include diasporic traditions and routines we’ve seldom heard her speak about, like charging crystals in a full moon, and encouraging the ghosts of her ancestors to chat amongst themselves in her home
Written by Beyonce and co-produced by Derek Dixie, Black Parade also features her husband, Jay-Z! So inspirational! Check out the song below: