Beyoncé has had a pretty spectacular week.
Queen Bey released new music in the shape of the “Formation” video (which I’ve watch 433 times) on Saturday, February 6, the day before she was scheduled to do the Halftime Show at Superbowl 50 to a live audience of millions, during which she proceeded to turn middle America on their asses with performance that highlighted and *dare I say* celebrated racial issues. Along with her husband (Jay-Z. Heard of him?) and their music company Tidal, Beyoncé plans to donate $1.5 Million to the Black Lives Matters campaign, and on her upcoming tour, she’ll be taking donations from fans for Flint, Michigan, a small Black community suffering from a horrendous, and very preventable, water crisis. Also last week, Beyoncé posted on YouTube and her official website an eight minute documentary honoring the black men who sang backup for her at the Grammy’s when she performed Mahalia Jackson’s version of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord“. In the mini-doc, Beyoncé empowers these men; lifting up the black community and celebrating positivity, revealing an insider’s view of the struggles within while remaining accessible to those who don’t identify.
This is the power of a true artist and activist.
And yet, my FaceBook page blew up with friends and family asking *why oh why* did Beyoncé have to *ruin* the Superbowl by bringing *race* into it??
Yes, Beyoncé did bring race into the Superbowl Halftime Show. Her backup dancers wore outfits reminiscent of the Black Panthers, the video “Formation” does show police officers with their hands up, surrendering to a young, dancing Black boy wearing a hoodie. The lyrics of her newest song talk about afros and Red Lobster. This is a song about Black lives for Black people. The thing is, Beyoncé isn’t just a pop diva, she is a Black feminist and race is always an issue for black people, just like being a female is always an issue for a woman. Would you like to know why?
White. Patriarchy. It’s a thing.
As a black woman who was raised by her white mother and grandparents, it’s taken me 30 plus years to comfortably identify as such, for many reasons–one of them being because I had so few black role models to look up to as a young person. Being half-black and half-white hasn’t always been easy but it’s always been me and now, my daughter. It’s incredible that she has strong, black women like Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, Shonda Rhimes–oh, and those 5 amazing black girl geeks I shared with you last week– to look up to. But, honestly, we both are fortunate to have these women to admire, emulate and aspire to. Do you know what it feels like to see artists, creators, scientists, politicians, humanitarians who look like you? Who have the same hair as you (which may seem like a little thing, but ask any Black girl with nappy hair, it truly is so important). Whose struggles, questions and experiences you can relate to but who are also powerful, strong and successful? Well, I don’t. Not really. Not until now. This is all very new and exciting for me and my daughter and my Black sisters and brothers. It’s pretty amazing to feel included and cared for and lifted up. Hell, I’ve been wearing my hair natural all week because Beyoncé said she liked it and I kinda feel somewhat proud of my curls???
Yeah. All new.
So, if Beyoncé makes you uncomfortable because she’s causing you to ponder your privilege or lack thereof, I would like to assure you that it’s a good thing. Critical thinking and examination of fallacious societal values is called enlightenment, and we could all use a little hot sauce in our bags, or whatever.
Check out the incentives for our SDCC 2016 fundraising campaign here.