Once again the popular pop artist Beyonce has released another hard hitting single that empowers some and enrages others. Like her past hit songs such as, “Flawless”, “Grown Woman” and “Single Ladies”, Beyonce enlightens the people of the social problems that many face in our nation. On this current single Knowles allows her political voice to be heard about the problems that African Americans face here in America. Not only does she speak of these injustices she gives a visual image of these actions. Even though many people only look at Beyonce for feel good dance ballads she pushed her musical envelope with the release of her recent single entitled, ‘Formation’.
‘Formation’ is a black-power anthem. Coincidentally the single was released during the month of February which is often recognized as Black History Month. This single can also be a very strong topic for Black Lives Matter activist across America. Not only did Beyonce release a hit single, but also a very Pro-black video for ‘Formation’ on February 6, the day after the 21st birthday of Trayvon Martin and one day before the 29th birthday of Sandra Bland. Both Martin and Bland’s murders were two of the main factors of the Black Lives Matter movement. Beyonce fashioned both the single and video with a surprise release, the day before her appearance as part of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. After her performance, she announced to the world that she would be going on a world tour also entitled Formation.
While watching this video one may think what exactly is Beyonce hinting at? What were her motives behind this song and video? Knowles pays homage to the southern city of New Orleans, Louisiana, a city often looked at for its high crime rate, Mardi Gras, and the common music genre know as “Bounce music”. Like much of the black South New Orleans is one of those places that is often criticized for the bad and often looked over for its good. Often times black America is looked over and criticized for only the bad that takes place in our community. We are in the year 2016 and African Americans are still being killed by law enforcement and even other African Americans. Where do we draw the line in the sand and say enough is enough? If you take a deeper look into the lyrics of this modern day civil rights anthem we can see Knowles taking a hit at the government’s injustices. One example is seen in a clip from the video when a little boy dressed in a black hoodie and black jeans is in a suspect line up in front of uniformed police officers, and then the video pans over to a graffiti painted sign that states, “Stop shooting us.” As many know this slogan is often referenced to the killing of Mike Brown. This slogan is a derivative of “Hands up, don’t shoot”, a chant that could be heard by many protesters after the killing of Brown. Knowles set the bar as an activist with a larger platform that could reach millions of people.
Not only does Knowles give us insight on police brutality but she also advocates for some of the physical features that African Americans are commonly coined with having such as caorse hair, large noses and wide nostrils. Given that every African American can consent to, at least once, taking a look into the mirror and noticing the flaws that America often points out as an attempt to degrade us. Knowles embraces these traits by stating, “I like my baby’s hair, with baby hair and afros, I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” So why are so many Americans upset with the lyrics and video that was produced? None African Americans can not handle the empowerment that is shown throughout the video. Not only does it ruffle their feathers but it shows the majority that black America is no longer sitting back and allowing these problems to stop us from living our lives in peace. Instead of causing a distraction with her presence Knowles takes a stand with ‘Formation’ and centers on some of the main points of America’s destruction on blacks to make this epic music video.
Taking it a step further Knowles performed this single during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, being watched by millions of Americans, by entering the field wearing a black latex leotard with a gold X embellishing a black jacket with gold rivets down both sleeves. This X symbol a reference to the slain civil rights activist Malcolm X and also pays homage to the king of pop Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl costume from the 1993 Super Bowl performance. It can easily be said that both Beyonce and her backup dancers paid homage to the Black-Panther party by giving a Black Panther inspired performance. The backup dancers were also fashioned in a way that upset many conservatives. These young ladies wore leather body suits and jet black coarse afros topped with black berets. At one point Beyonce and her 50 dancers raised their fist in the air and held them there for a minute letting America know they were black and proud. The “Power Fist” symbol was often used by the Black Panthers as a sign of support and togetherness. As an African American I am proud of the movement that Bey has gotten behind and pushed forward. Blacks within our community will only give support when big name celebrities stand up and give them a reason to be proud of who they are.
The song ‘Formation’ is mainly about the way black America is being treated, the way most black victims of Hurricane Katrina were and still are not being served in their communities. It shows the common undue police brutality on African Americans in our nation. Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, appeared on Fox News, saying Beyoncé must not have understood her role, “You’re talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl, so if you have entertainment, let’s have decent, wholesome entertainment and not use it as a platform to attack the people who put their lives at risk to save us.” When does white America see that we are no longer holding our tongues? We as African Americans will stand up and allow our voices to be heard outside of our communities. Our lives are no longer in the hands of a slave master who controls our every move. If Beyonce would have released a video singing, “I’m Proud to Be an American” and adorned herself in an American flag with her hand over her heart would people still be in a uproar? Would white America be satisfied then? Was it the Afro? Or did white America become upset when the melanin enriched people started to give them backlash about the uncivil actions that have been used against them in the past three hundred years. It is time that we follow Knowles’ words and get in formation to start a movement to turn our communities around. The time to make a difference is now. We can no longer wait on the government to compromise with us. We must grab the bull by the horns and hold on until our voices are heard. It should not take artists like Beyonce to make us appreciate our flaws that are often duplicated by the melanin less majority. Formation is important, not because Beyonce said so, but because we need a culture shift in society. It is important that we organize and come together. We should all be proud of our culture, flaws and background. They didn’t like our nappy coarse hair so we embraced it and started the natural movement, nor did they like our big noses and lips but we did, so we embraced it. Some didn’t like our big breast and big butts, but they are now paying thousands of dollars to look like the people they hated. So why not embrace our flaws, these flaws allow us to be who we are as African Americans. With your fist raised as high as it can go, and your thick nappy beautiful jet black coarse hair waving in the southern wind, in the words of the late great James Brown, “Say it LOUD, I’m Black and I’m Proud.”