A multitude of reactions and opinions have surfaced in response to Beyoncé’s newest song and music video, Formation, in which she portrays scenes and images from and depicting the devastating Hurricane Katrina, black people and their culture, subtle support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and peaceful opposition to police brutality. Typically, white reporters and Twitter-users or anyone with a strong opinion about Beyoncé’s music and performance at Super Bowl 50 have taken to using the hashtag #BoycottBeyonce; they claim that Beyoncé pulled a race-baiting stunt during half time at the Super Bowl, and it was a slap in the face to law enforcement and racist. But in reality, and what supporters of Beyoncé and anyone who doesn’t hate black people think, is that a Black woman is affirming her Blackness and Black womanhood. It was an awesome way to showcase black culture and protest police brutality. Beyoncé’s new song/video Formation is NOT racist. It is a celebration of herself, her skin color, her history, black people and culture, and shouldn’t make any other race (particularly white people) feel offended or angry.

Beyoncé accomplishes celebrating her race and culture and incorporates black people and their resources very well; she celebrates black people and their culture by portraying only black people throughout the duration of the song and video for Formation. In this groundbreaking music video, Beyoncé features the voices of prominent black YouTube stars Messy Mya (who was killed in 2010 during a shooting in the 7th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans) and Big Freedia (who is — coincidentally or deliberately — a New Orleans-based bounce rapper who is also an expert on twerking), who offers the line “I did not come to play with you hoes. [Laughs] I came to slay, b*tch! I like cornbreads and collard greens, b*tch!”, and much more for the song. The song is produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, another black producer and songwriter from Atlanta, Georgia (note the Southern themes going on here, also an attempt for Beyoncé to dig deep into her southern roots and therefore her own race’s history), who also produced songs from artists like 2Chainz, Future, Rihanna, Jay Z, Kelly Rowland, and more. Beyoncé also utilizes an all black dance team, who at the halftime show at Super Bowl 50 formed an X shape while sporting Afros, black berets, and a military-inspired custom black leather DSquared2 jacket with a giant gold “X” embellished across the front, channeling and paying tribute to black activist Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 70s, and Michael Jackson. Instead of shying away from all of the things that make her black and who she is, Beyoncé embraces them and proudly flaunts them like trophy.

All throughout the music video and song, Beyoncé tries to create a sense of empowerment from terms typically viewed as derogatory by using them in a good, positive way, to reinforce the bond between black people and their culture. The star uses stereotypical phrases that are deemed undesirable like “baby hairs and afro”, “Jackson 5 nostrils”, and “bama”. She also makes references to “hot sauce in my bag”, and being in a weave shop. Her use of these words is comparable to how African Americans nowadays use the n word as an endearing term of brotherhood for their friends, family, and to make jokes. This is no way gives anyone else the right to use these terms for or against any race, it is solely for the purpose of black people taking these offensive, stereotypical, and derogatory phrases back to make them their own and empower themselves so they can no longer be put down by the words that were once used to hurt them. “Jackson 5 nostrils” is simply referring to the bigger nostrils black people tend to have; “bama” is actually a derogatory term for a black hick; during the Great Migration when African Americans were moving from the rural south to the more urban and industrialized north, they were looked down upon by the more “sophisticated” residents of the Washington, DC area, says Smithsonian staffer John Franklin. Beyoncé reclaiming “bama” really shows her pride in digging into her southern roots; it also shows that there is a comparison between racial tensions then and now, and how the Black Lives Matter movement is people of all races trying to fix this issue.

This brilliant video and the messages conveyed within it are not racist at all. In fact, black people cannot be racist towards white people bc reverse racism doesn’t exist! To be racist you must possess two qualities: privilege and power, and black people have neither. You could argue that our president is black, but the black community still earns less in the workforce — especially retail workers — than whites; white people are not oppressed. Prejudice and racism are not the same thing; making a joke about white people dancing will not bring down the status of white people, but making “jokes” about black people loving watermelon, fried chicken, and kool aid just reinforces the negative stereotypes people have. Having spaces set aside solely for people of color is not racist, which leads to the next point — hard truths aren’t racist, they’re just hard to hear. HBCUs were established because those were the only school young black adults could attend, but not they’re seen as possibly racist? HBCUs admit white people too. White people should not be offended or angry due to this video, there’s absolutely no reason to be. In no way is it trying to come at white people or make them out to be the bad guys. Beyoncé reveals her support for the Black Lives Matter movement in a snippet of a video where a little black boy stands with his arms open and a line of white police officers stands facing him with their hands up, then the video flashes to an image of a wall with the words “stop shooting us” in black spray paint. Just because you advocate for black people NOT being victims of police brutality and support a movement that addresses this issue doesn’t mean you’re “slapping them in the face”, which is what the haters say she is doing. Plenty of whites and other races support this powerful movement too… Does this mean they also are disrespectful or rude or ungrateful? I honestly don’t think these people would call anyone else out on these “charges” except black people.

“Y’all haters”, as Beyoncé puts it in “Formation”, are making this into a blacks versus whites issue when the song/artist were simply trying to celebrate black culture, music, and their people. Beyoncé is trying to showcase all the things that make her who she is and many others who they are — her microbraids, basketball, baby hairs and Afros, hot sauce in bags, weave shops, surrendering to police, Jackson 5 nostrils, being negro and Creole, from Alabama and Louisiana, cornbread and collard greens, buying J’s, the extreme devastation of Hurricane Katrina. So this leaves one last thing… Get in formation and decide; #BoycottBeyonce or #Formation?

For those of you who have yet to see “Formation,” or just want to spend the rest of your days replaying it!

Works cited

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/09/entertainment/beyonce-boycott-super-bowl-feat/

http://www.beyonce.com/home/

http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Facts-About-Beyonce-Formation-Music-Video-40151530#photo-40151556

http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Beyonce-Formation-Music-Video-40090121

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/09/the-black-lives-matter-tribute-that-you-missed-from-beyonces-halftime-show-dancers/

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-style/news/beyonc-pays-tribute-to-michael-jacksons-super-bowl-costume-w163707

http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/reverse-racism-doesnt-exist/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/02/retail-work-can-be-difficult-for-almost-everyone-but-heres-why-its-even-worse-for-blacks-and-latinos/

http://genius.com/Beyonce-formation-lyrics

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