This weekend was a great time to be a Black woman. Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of my melanin all day, every day — twice on Sundays. But over the past few days, the rest of the world has gotten to witness that pride in all it’s glory, and it is exactly what my spirit needed.
Or at least it was, until the hate started to roll in.
You probably know by now that on Saturday, Beyonce did what only she can do: She dropped a surprise video on us for her new song, “Formation.” As always, the internet collectively lost its mind. But this time, it felt different. It wasn’t just the Beyonce stans getting in on the praise. It was all the Black people and even the woke white people on my timeline and all over the web. Because more than a song, “Formation” is a political statement about Blackness in all it’s forms — feminine, queer, ratchet, refined, and everything in between — racial injustice (Hurricane Katrina, anyone?) and police brutality.
On the off chance you haven’t seen it, check it out. Or just watch it for the hundredth time. I won’t judge you.
Come through, Bey! This video is the Blackest thing to happen in 2016, and I am completely here for it.
In the days since its release, there have been many, many thinkpieces that break down why it is the best thing Beyonce has ever done (seriously), so I’ll let you read some of those. But suffice it to say that I love how she managed to make space for queer voices while she addressed her own Blackness, the persistent rumors about her AND #BlackLivesMatter, all the while calling her sisters into “formation” to join her. The song and video are a truly powerful statement, particularly coming from a person who is typically viewed as being apolitical and not “woke”.
So that was Saturday. But Beyonce was also slated to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday. And everyone was hoping she would perform “Formation.” King Bey did not disappoint. Not only did she perform it: She did it with a group of backup dancers dressed like Black Panthers in a costume that also paid homage to Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime outfit. She basked in all her Blackness in front of 100 million people, and I could not have been prouder.
Of course, I knew the white tears would be coming. I knew white people would be all up in arms about the song and her performance, and I was right. They’ve called Bey’s performance overtly sexual (What? Where?), boring (Compared to WetBlanket, I mean Coldplay?), race-baiting (Why does this term even exist? As if Black people need encouragement to be pissed off about our oppression), and even anti-police.
I want to address that last one in detail. White people have actually — like for real — responded to the pro-Black message and Black Panther costumes by claiming Beyonce is now anti-police. They are comparing the Black Panthers to the KKK, and calling it a racist, terrorist organization.
Listen. Being pro-Black does not mean being anti-white, and speaking out against police brutality does not mean being anti-police. The Black Panthers was not a racist organization: It was a response to racism. It was an attempt to protect Black people and Black communities from racism and the oppression of white supremacy. But somehow, they are being equated to the KKK, which murdered and raped and conspired to systematically oppress black people with reckless abandon, and STILL EXISTS today? This is somehow the same as an organization that developed programs to feed and offer health care for the Black community while fighting to come out from under the boot of white supremacy?
Miss me with that nonsense. Making the logical leaps to those conclusions requires hella mental gymnastics. Being proud of our Blackness and working to offer representation when mainstream media offers little to none does not mean we are against everyone else. It is us taking back the power that has been denied us for so long. Taking back the narrative that says we are not beautiful, intelligent, or complex, or deserving of love or success.
And hell if we’re going to let anyone take that away from us too.
With all that Black Girl Magic and Black pride in the air all weekend, I guess I felt like it was finally time for me to use my voice here the same way I use it everywhere else. If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know how often I talk about race, racism, intersectional feminism and social justice in general. This is also true in real life. Here though, in this space, my space, I don’t talk about it as often as I’d like. This post is the start of my effort to change that.
This is me, getting in formation.