Beyoncé’s “16 Carriages”: A Beacon of Light on Miscarriage Experiences Among Black Women

Written By: Jessica C. Vann

Generally, when I write, I like to keep things light. However, working in the space of shining light on maternal healthcare disparities for Black and Brown women, some topics cannot be shied away from. Beyoncé has been surprisingly candid about spontaneous pregnancy loss, talking about her experience in interviews and writing songs like “Heaven Couldn’t Wait,” Is her latest hit, “16 Carriages,” yet another ode to loss and a call for Black mothers to embrace their loss?

This track, like many of her works, is not just a melodic journey but a narrative that delves deep into the human experience. This song seems to illuminate a topic that is far too often overlooked – the experience of miscarriage as it pertains to Black women. Through her lyrics, she offers a reflection on her personal journey and shines a light on a broader social issue that needs attention and understanding.

The Lyrics and Their Meaning

“Sixteen carriages driving away / While I watch them ride with my dreams away” – these somber yet reflective lyrics start us on a metaphorical journey representing the dreams and hopes that are found during pregnancies and lost with a miscarriage. This imagery is powerful, evoking a sense of something precious being taken away, a journey cut short.

The “summer sunset on a holy night / On a long back road, all the tears I fight” paints a picture of solitude and the internal struggle accompanying such a loss.
The first verse describes a challenging past, indicating a loss of innocence and the complexities of familial relationships.

“Sixteen dollars, workin’ all day/ Ain’t got time to waste, I got art to make/  I got love to create on this holy night/ They won’t dim my light, all these years I fight”

When I initially heard these lyrics I thought, “Beyonce has NEVER worked a 9-5...what is this about and it was at maybe the 3rd listen that I thought, “She’s speaking about the momma’s that have no other choice but to keep going.” These lyrics spoke to the broader experience of many Black women, who often face socio-economic challenges, familial strife, and engage in the “art” of pushing down traumatic experiences and make something out of nothing.

It’s not all darkness. The pre-chorus highlights resilience in the face of adversity. “It’s been umpteen summers, and I’m not in my bed / On the back of the bus, and a bunk with the band / Goin’ so hard gotta choose myself / Underpaid and overwhelmed.” Even the Queen can acknowledge the hard work and perseverance required to overcome obstacles, a sentiment that resonates with many.

Spontaneous Pregnancy Loss: A Silent Struggle

You may have seen that I switch between the use of the word “miscarriage” and the phrase “spontaneous pregnancy loss.” The truth is I HATE the term “miscarriage.” Outside of  pregnancy, the term is widely used in the justice system and implies some wrongdoing. In momma land, spontaneous pregnancy loss can happen to NO fault of the mother. I use the familiar word to ensure people pick up what I put down. However, I challenge you to begin to use spontaneous pregnancy loss. For Black women whose bodies are already so policed and
often made to be seen as wrong, this helps to remove guilt and shame.

Sadly, I can attest to the devastating experience of spontaneous pregnancy loss and the additional complexities it carries for Black women. Due to a combination of socio-economic factors, healthcare disparities, bias, cultural stigmas, and self-blame, Black women often face this journey in silence and without adequate support. Studies have shown that Black women are more likely to experience spontaneous pregnancy compared to their white counterparts. Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research published a paper showing that Black women had a 43% increased risk of miscarriage compared to white women, yet this is rarely discussed in public forums. This lack of conversation and awareness leads to profound isolation and misunderstanding. Guilt, loss, and inadequacy haunt all women who experience spontaneous pregnancy loss; however, Black women are forced to lean on the same medical community that discards them for aftercare.

The Cultural Context

Resilience has been the hallmark of the Black community. Oddly enough, the word Itself perplexes me. RE-SILENCE. Sadly, where it pertains to spontaneous pregnancy loss, I see it as being forced to be re-SILENT. We are not encouraged to speak out about our pain, and in hospitals where professionals are trained to believe that our tolerance for pain is superhuman, we do not believe. When our pain leads to loss, we are pushed even further into the shadows and
told to push our trauma down.

Beyoncé’s Role as a Cultural Icon

I could be so far off on what Beyoncé’s “16 Carriages” is about, but the message it has stirred up in me is essential nonetheless. Her decision to address spontaneous pregnancy loss in interviews and her music is a beacon of light shining on the plight of all Black women, women working a 9-5 to those in the upper echelons such as Gabrielle Union, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Queen Bey herself. As a globally recognized figure and a Black woman, she brings visibility to a topic often shrouded in silence. Her music serves as a powerful tool for initiating conversations, spreading awareness, and helping to destigmatize spontaneous pregnancy loss among Black women. Her lyrics reflect her personal experiences and resonate with the collective experiences of many women. By sharing her story, Beyoncé provides comfort and validation to those who have felt alone in their struggles.

Healing from Pregnancy Loss

We must first acknowledge that the loss of a pregnancy will never heal. The journey of healing is forever. Healing is a deeply personal journey, and while I can’t give you a one-size approach to this work, here are some steps that can help in the healing process:
• Acknowledge the Loss: Pregnancy loss is not just the loss of a pregnancy but the loss of future hopes and dreams.
• Seek Support: Finding a support system, whether it be friends, family, support groups, or professional counseling, can provide much-needed comfort and understanding.
• Have the Conversations: Open discussions about pregnancy help to break the stigma and isolation and can be a powerful way to work towards healing and sharing in someone else’s healing journey.
• Self-Care: Engaging in self-care practices, such as mindfulness, meditation, or gentle physical activity, can help in managing the emotional and physical aftermath of a miscarriage.
• Education and Advocacy: Educating oneself about pregnancy loss and advocating for better healthcare and support for Black women can be empowering and contribute to broader societal change.

The Way Forward

Beyoncé’s “16 Carriages” is a call to action. It urges us to pay attention to the often-ignored struggles of Black mothers, particularly regarding pregnancy loss. This song can serve as a catalyst for change, prompting better healthcare, more open conversations, and a society that supports rather than stigmatizes. In the end, healing from a pregnancy loss, especially in the context of the Black community, requires a collective effort. It involves acknowledging the unique challenges faced, providing support, and, most importantly, creating a space where women can share their stories without fear or judgment. Through her music, Beyoncé has once again demonstrated her ability to entertain, enlighten, and inspire. “16 Carriages” is a testament to the power of art in effecting social change and the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Mommy’s Hood: A Source of Strength and Support in Your Journey

As we discuss the complexities and emotional challenges of motherhood, particularly in the wake of experiences like spontaneous pregnancy loss, it’s vital to highlight resources that provide support and understanding. This brings us to Mommy’s Hood Community Wellness Fund. Mommy’s Hood is a sanctuary for mothers navigating the multifaceted paths of motherhood. It empathizes with the struggles and celebrates the triumphs of being a mother. Whether you’re dealing with the uncertainties of pregnancy, the demanding yet rewarding task of raising children, or seeking healing after a pregnancy load, Mommy’s Hood offers a comforting and supportive space.

The platform stands out for its comprehensive approach to maternal wellness. It provides expert-backed support and an active community of mothers who share their experiences and wisdom.

Through Mommy’s Hood, mothers can access a wealth of resources, ranging from educational  content on various aspects of maternal health to education on your rights as a birthing body, self-advocacy, and forums for personal stories and guidance. Moreover, Mommy’s Hood recognizes the unique challenges faced in the aftermath of a pregnancy loss. It offers specialized support groups led by empathetic professionals dedicated to guiding mothers through their healing journey. This aspect of Mommy’s Hood is particularly resonant with the themes discussed in Beyoncé’s “16 Carriages,” emphasizing the need for a supportive network during such difficult times. Incorporating a resource like Mommy’s Hood into the narrative of motherhood, especially in the context of the black community, is a step towards breaking the silence and isolation surrounding miscarriage and maternal challenges. It’s a testament to the power of community and shared
experiences in fostering healing and resilience. In essence, Mommy’s Hood is not just a platform; it’s a family that nurtures and uplifts the spirit of every mother. It aligns perfectly with the message of strength and support that Beyoncé echoes in her music, reminding us that in the world of motherhood, no one is alone.


Jessica C. Vann is a licensed professional counselor meeting moms at the intersection of parenting and maintaining intimate relationships specializing in sex & relationships. She is a renaissance woman working as clinic director of Ellie Mental Health, founder & Executive Director of Mommy’s Hood Community Wellness Fund, a 501 (C)(3) aimed at bringing awareness to maternal health care disparities, and owner of her newest endeavor Invision Empowerment, educating & motivating others! Jessica is a wife of 10 years to her loving husband & partner Carl; and mother to her 11 year old son & 5 year old daughter! There’s also a fur baby, Phoenix which means, there’s NEVER a dull moment at the Vann household!


Jessica C. Vann is a licensed professional counselor supervisor candidate, Clinic Director of Ellie Mental Health Columbia Vista, Owner of InVision Counseling & Invision Empowerment Motivational Speaking, and Founder & Director of Mommy’s Hood Community Wellness Fund 501(c)(3). Her mission is to help mothers find and live as their authentic selves while prioritizing self-care, raising happy and healthy children, and maintaining intimate relationships. She creates safe spaces for women in their many roles, especially motherhood. Jessica has been a wife for 10 years to her loving husband & partner Carl; and mother to her 11 year old son & 5 year old daughter and has a furbaby named Phoenix.

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