This Yoruba Priest’s Writing May Have Been Published in Beyoncé’s Book Without Any Credit

Lead Photo: YouTube Still of "Hold Up" Video
YouTube Still of "Hold Up" Video
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With one Instagram post on Tuesday, Beyoncé announced that a collector’s edition of Lemonade – the How to Make Lemonade Box Set – was available for pre-order on her website. The set includes a double vinyl LP and a 600-page coffee book – which features behind-the-scenes photos from the making of the visual album and poetry by Warsan Shire. And like many Beyoncé fans, Maximiliano Goiz – whose Facebook cover image is one of Bey’s pregnancy announcement photos – also excitedly checked out the video. But the half-Cuban, half-Mexican Yoruba priest alleges that the book used a nearly verbatim version of his description of the Oshun symbolism in “Hold Up” from Facebook post he wrote on April 23, 2016. Goiz was not quoted or credited for this excerpt.

The same day that Beyoncé’s visual album premiered on HBO in 2016, Goiz took to Facebook to break down the Oshun references. Oshun (or Ochún) is one of the many Orishas that derives from the Yoruba tradition – which originated in Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and survived the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Oshun is particularly popular in Brazil through the Candomblé religion and in Cuba through Santería. “She opens those golden doors with the water gushing (like a river) dressed in that golden-yellow dress with golden jewelry, barefoot, with a ‘Guantanamera’ sounding sample in the background,” Goiz wrote, before further elaborating why Oshun was the most fitting choice for Lemonade.

“She has been a victim of abuse, neglect, and loss, which is the reason so many women whom have experienced those actions worship Oshun,” Goiz continued. “When she seeks out revenge for those who have hurt her– and her children– she is unpredictable in her methods and temper. She can show herself laughing, dancing and joyous, all while unleashing a wrath on those who cross her. It only makes sense that Beyoncé would allude to Oshun’s imagery and personification in an album that is intended to conceptualize a woman’s journey of self knowledge and healing, specifically that of a black woman’s journey. Oshun symbolizes just that.”

Various publications quoted Goiz’s words to analyze Beyoncé’s album, and it seems it made it’s way onto Beyoncé’s team’s radar. The book states, “Oshun is the Orisha who has suffered the most. She has been a victim of abuse, neglect, and loss. When she seeks out revenge for those who have hurt her and her children, she is unpredictable in her moods and temper. She can show herself laughing, dancing, and joyous all while unleashing a wrath on those who cross her.”

It’s not clear how Goiz learned that Bey’s books allegedly lifted his words. But if you stop the announcement video at about the 15-second mark, you can see the page in the book that Goiz is referencing. As a big Beyoncé fan, Goiz seems conflicted. In one Facebook post, he earnestly explained feeling joy about what seem like his words being included in the book. “Idk what to do with my life,” he wrote. “But I’m also not quoted or credited tho and it’s basically word for word what I wrote. #idkwhattodo#beyonceiloveyoumorethanlife #butthesearemywords

Oftentimes, the words/creations of people of color go unnoticed and uncredited, which is likely why his friends encouraged him to take some form of action. But Goiz, who admitted to not knowing what he should do next, kept it light. Goiz joked, “I just want to be at the birth of the twins.”

We’ve reached out to Goiz for comment. We’ll update the post when we hear from him.

Update, May 3 at 8:35 p.m.: In a Facebook message, Maximiliano told Remezcla that he first saw the post because of his friends. When he read the excerpt, he thought it sounded a lot like the words he wrote. Still, he can’t say for sure that it came from his Facebook post or that he’s not mentioned in the acknowledgements section. “The book hasn’t been released yet,” he noted. He recalls seeing a similar post going around last year, and he wanted to compare it and see if it resembled the words in the coffee table book. But he believes that Facebook post was taken down.

Regardless of whether or not the book takes from his post, Maximiliano won’t take any action, because he’s content knowing that Beyoncé is bringing attention to his faith. “Beyoncé has already given me the greatest gift of all, which is existing and creating music and visuals and statements that reach people across all spectrums in life,” he said. “Never did I think as a Beyoncé fan since Destiny’s Child that my idol – who was such a significant part of my upbringing at times where I was unsure of having at my side – would transition into including the deepest, most fundamental and vulnerable parts of my identity into her music, which is my Lucumí/Santería faith. Her inclusion of these Afro-diasporic faiths, both visually and vocally, helps break the stigma that exists against these practices across the world.

“…Beyoncé, along with Ibeyi, Princess Nokia and other vocal ‘brujxs’ are bringing such a beautiful representation of the practices and I couldn’t be prouder of that because it’s time. It’s time for people to learn about our beliefs and our roots, and break the negative brujeria witchcraft notions that exist in our communities. I definitely want to be part of this revolution.”