Adored by people of all ages and races, Beyoncé sparked controversy — a rare occurrence for the diva — when she performed her newly released single “Formation” during halftime at Super Bowl 50. In the song, she embraces her race and the stereotypes that African Americans encounter.
“My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bamma,” Queen Bee professes in her song.
Beyoncé’s performance paid homage to the Black Lives Matter movement, Malcolm X and the Black Panther party. Her dancers sported afros and black berets, and she herself was decked out in black leather, a clear tribute to Civil Rights activists. While I think Beyoncé was brave to use such a large platform of more than 100 million people to address such a sensitive topic, political figures such as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani derided her performance.
“I thought that she used it as a platform to attack police officers, who are the people who protect her and keep us alive,” Giuliani said in an interview with the New York Post.
I don’t see the problem with Beyoncé’s political message in either her song or her performance. People don’t understand that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t created to elevate the importance of black lives over other races: Rather, it was created as a statement to a justice system and police culture whose actions show a callous disregard for the lives of black citizens.
If #AllLivesMatter, why is it mainly the black ones that are being senselessly taken? When was the last time you heard of an unarmed white teenager walking home from the convenience store and being shot to death because he looked suspicious while wearing a hoodie on a rainy evening?
And yes, the Black Panthers and Malcolm X promoted violence when necessary, because they felt that Martin Luther King’s nonviolence method wasn’t working — blacks were still being beaten, burned and sprayed with water hoses like annoying pests.
But don’t let the loud voices, signature berets and afro-raising members who characterize the Black Panther Party fool you. The Black Panthers did a lot for the community. Something that often gets lost in the sauce is their free breakfast for schoolchildren program. According to National Geographic, the Black Panther’s free breakfast program was one of the first organized food programs in the country.
Beyoncé is using her music to make a difference and send a message that is relevant to our society. In the wise words of Joseph Pulitzer, Beyoncé truly afflicted the comfortable. Those who turned a blind eye to the things that are going on in our society were forced to listen to what she had to say.
All in all, Beyoncé was not inciting violence, nor was she promoting violence against law enforcement. She was using her voice as a powerful, influential black woman to bring a voice to a movement that people are constantly trying to silence.
Shaquirah Jackson is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future.