I only had the opportunity to watch bits and pieces of the Super Bowl from Sunday, so my knowledge as to what exactly happened is very limited, unfortunately. However, after a few days of having one of my posts getting about 50 views a day, I knew something was up.
And I guess you can guess what post that is?
The night before the game, Beyoncé released her new music video, “Formation,” which may be one of the most provoking videos I have ever seen her make. Take a look, and note that this is the clean version.
Before I tie the role of mass media culture into Us + the World and humanity issues, I want to show you a post that another blogger wrote about Beyoncé’s performance that made it so memorable. In all honesty, I don’t think I could have summed the song’s message and Beyoncé’s performance any better than her:
Beyoncé places her own reckless, country blackness – one of afros, cornrows, and negro noses, brown liquor and brown girls, hot sauce, and of brown boys and cheddar bay biscuits – in conversation with and as descended from a broader southern blackness that is frequently obscured and unseen in national discourses, save for as (dying, lynched, grotesque, excessive) spectacle. Through this reckless country blackness, she becomes every black southern woman possible for her to reasonably inhabit, moving through time, class, and space.
In “Formation,” Beyoncé calls out almost every recent mishap that has corrupted modern American society and magically ties all these issues into one trending theme: racism. From the growing, suffering wealth gaps resulting from Hurricane Katrina to the hidden, yet relentless abuse of black women, the well-known singer hits the nail on the head as she deliberately (and blatantly) calls everyone out. After reading through some reviews of her Super Bowl performance and her latest video, I have noticed some trends amongst people who straight-up backlashed the videos, them being mainly of the white majority.
Here’s the thing: a lot of this hatred is stemmed from misunderstanding. They don’t understand why Beyoncé marched out during Half Time with synchronized dancers dressed like Black Panthers. They don’t understand why Beyoncé ends up drowning at the end of the music video along with the suffering of Hurricane Katrina victims. It’s the catastrophes, the movements, the fight. As someone who has never been too involved in pop music and icons, I applaud Beyoncé for the courage she takes on, one of the most momentous moves she has taken since the launch of her career.
In the US, most black people are descended from people who were dragged to the colonies against their will. This did not only include slavery, but also trafficking, abuse, and blatant racism that has never truly gone away (especially noticeable if you live in the South). Now, because I am not black, I have to be honest in saying that I do not know what it’s like to be a black person. There is no point in trying to formulate an argument to that. However, I do understand that the lifestyle is incredibly different and, possibly, harder. With pain tinting the history of this culture, the life of a black person is (almost for certain) nothing like the life of a white person.
Yesterday, I was talking to a friend, who happens to be African American. She told me she had a crush on a guy, and when I asked who, she felt embarrassed. Well, of course, who doesn’t feel embarrassed to flat out admit who they’ve been crushing on for weeks or months? When you say things, everything just becomes more real and then you either figure out how ridiculous you sound or how true your words are. In her case, however, she told me that she liked a boy in a fraternity.
Now, you have to understand that I am from the South where racism is still a prominent attribute. On my campus, there are ZERO fraternities that are predominantly black. Additionally, if you are black and you tried to get into most of these frat parties, you would be turned away or thrown out. There are still fraternities on my campus that have the Magnolia Ball, which is this social that celebrates the Old South. Only 10-20 years ago did they have fraternity brothers riding on horses dressed as confederate soldiers with their Kappa dates dressed in corsets. Yet, the worst part was that these fraternities used to hire African American locals to pick cotton off the front lawn of their fraternity houses to symbolize the Confederacy.
And some people think racism no longer exists.
My friend, however, felt embarrassed and, if anything, discouraged. She believed that because she was not the typical sorority girl who was “blonde” and “skinny” that she would not be able to date this boy. After asking him how he would describe the perfect date, this boy literally described the poster picture model of Hillary Duff on the cover of Cosmo. Size 2. Straight blonde hair. Bright blue eyes. Tanned. White.
My friend felt discouraged because of who she is. Nobody should ever feel that way.
This “not all white people” and “that’s not fair” sentiment really calls for zero sympathy, as well. We now live in an age where strong black female artists, such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Kelly Rowland, are fighting to tell the oppressive narratives of their culture while being shamed by the majority culture for generalized offense. Please. Are these narratives really being told to simply offend white people?
These are stories. Just like the Confederacy stories. Just like the colonization stories. Just like the slavery stories. These are narratives that are constructed in a framework that some have not yet understood. These black female artists aren’t even alternative or independent. They’re extremely mainstream, which gives them the power to influence those around them. This is not a forum, however, for them to conform to the perfect identity of a “celebrity.” This does not mean air-brushed, blonde-hair, and blue-eyed. It could mean that, but Beyoncé took it to another level by using her own power to make herself and the black culture apparent.
The line of policemen bow down to the talented child who dances, dropping hints for hope in the future.
“Gone with the Wind” and any other old-South movie scenes have transformed from the traditional white superiority symbolizing slavery to the modern-day movement towards black rights.
Black women are being called to “get in formation” and to “get information,” two aspects that celebrate the new-found power that can be fought for.
Now is time. You don’t need validation to prove that you are excellent. Certainly not by other cultures, no matter who you are. So, listen.
And THEN tell me what you think! Comments are always welcome – just keep it respectful!