I've been obsessed with Beyoncé since the Destiny's Child days. "Bills, Bills, Bills" came out when I was only 2, but by the time I was a sassy preteen, I was singing the lyrics like I knew what they meant. As of Superbowl Sunday, my love of Queen Bey was affirmed once again. This time, it wasn't just because of her empowering me to leave my "good for nothing type of brotha," but because she used her influence to talk about issues that matter in America today.
If you missed the Superbowl halftime show, I highly recommend doing a quick search on YouTube and getting up to speed. Also, make sure you check out her music video for her new single "Formation," because... damn. In both of these performances, we are reminded how expressive music, dance, and costuming can really be. I'm thinking about it more than a week later; that says a lot in this day and age. She masterfully expressed her very clear message in both of these instances: Something needs to change regarding the way black culture is perceived and how black people are treated in the U.S.
The amount of cultural and historical references well-known director Melina Matsoukas and many other incredible people who worked on the music video is mind-blowing. The video touches on black beauty standards, homosexuality, and police violence, just to name a few. It also ends with Beyoncé on top of a New Orleans police car as it sinks in the flood waters which ravaged the city after hurricane Katrina, an event that sparked controversy regarding government aid to poor, minority families in the area. I believe that if you watch the video multiple times, you will pick more and more each time. It is a reminder that there is so much to say about the black community; so much of the culture the majority of the population does not know about or understand.
Next, let's talk about that killer halftime performance. The collaboration between Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Coldplay, from my perspective, was the best part of the game. Not only did she pay homage to Michael Jackson, a black pop music icon, but her dancers costumes were reminiscent of what members of the Black Panther's wore in their heyday. However much I enjoyed the performance, the backlash from the media was immediate. Bey received criticism for making the Superbowl a forum for these kinds of issues. A so-called news reporter even went as far as invalidating the Black Lives Matter movement by claiming that Jay Z sold drugs for over a decade. Red herrings were everywhere, to distract from the facts of the issue. This was definitely a strategic move by Beyoncé to get people talking about the things that make many of us uncomfortable. No time is sacred enough to dismiss injustice (not even American football).
To sum it up, as a member of the black community watching both of these pieces, it was a sort of affirmation. That black culture is beautiful, deeply rooted, and should be appreciated by Americans not matter how they identify. That the days of taking into account when is an appropriate time to bring up racial inequality is dead and gone. I urge you, if you felt like you could not relate to the ideas addressed in both "Formation" and the halftime performance, to not devalue them. Look at them as a way to broaden your knowledge and understanding of a culture that may be foreign to you. I truly believe that when we stop feeling the need to invalidate others cultures to validate our own, equality will truly be attainable.