By Kelsey D’Auben
A few weeks back, Beyoncé appeared at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show alongside Bruno Mars and Coldplay.
She performed her latest single “Formation,” which dropped the day before.
Her halftime performance was accompanied by a group of all-black back-up dancers wearing costumes, which appeared to be replica Black Panther’s uniforms of the 1960s as a tribute for Black History Month.
These dancers costumes and the Black Lives Matter inspired “Formation” music video sparked outrage, even forming it’s own #BoycottBeyoncé hashtag on Twitter and Facebook.
“I thought it was really outrageous that she used it (the halftime show) as a platform to attack police officers,” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox & Friends. “Who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive.”
Giuliani is not alone in believing that Beyoncé went too far in her performance.
Some claim that Beyoncé paying tribute to the Black Panthers on stage that night was “racist” and use the argument that what she did was the equivalent of a white performer on stage with back-up dancers dressed as KKK members.
However, these (mostly) white critics fail to even try to understand the most important part of “Formation”; that it’s not about us as white people.
First and foremost, the Black Panthers are not the black Equivalent to the KKK.
The Black Panther Party was formed in 1966 as an active response to institutionalized racism and police violent against the black community.
They were created to monitor and challenge police brutality, as well as create more opportunities for the black community by instituting community social programs. The Klu Klux Klan is a white supremacy group, which still exists even today, that openly committed acts of violence and terror against minority groups in America.
Although the Black Panthers did have a much different set of ideals when it came to how to handle protesting their oppression and were known to be much less peaceful than those such as Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panthers and the KKK are not even remotely similar groups.
That being said, the entire premise of “Formation” is about the experience of being a black woman in America and being empowered and proud of their culture and heritage.
The video is set in Louisiana and has been inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It shows beautiful images of life and culture in the black community there.
One of the most powerful images, which coincidentally sparked the most controversy, is of a small black boy dancing before a line of white police officers who hold their hands up in surrender to the boy. This is then closely followed by an image of wall graffiti, which reads “Stop Shooting Us.”
Many people are angry over the video because of these images. They claim that the video portrays police officers, and in general all white-people, in a bad light because the only white people in the entire video were these police officers.
This song and video are about being black and we, as white people, have no say in how that experience is felt or how they tell their own stories. Because they aren’t about us.
Instead of getting offended at this image and trying to defend ourselves as “good guys” by arguing that “not all cops” or “not all white people” we, as a group, need to stop talking, take a step back, and listen to what is trying to be said.
Take this opportunity as a chance to listen and learn, instead of getting defensive and making their stories about us.
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Cover Photo Credit: Beyoncé/ Youtube (Screengrab)