Beyoncé gets into “Formation”: Pro-black video, performance receives criticism


Taleisha Newbill

The Queen Bee broke the Internet last weekend when she released a new song and video. The song, titled “Formation,” is a pro-black song that pays tribute to her southern roots, coming right on time for Black History Month.

Throughout the song she shuts down every rumor you can possibly think of. From that hate of her baby’s hair – “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros” – and the rumor of getting plastic sur-ery on her nose – “I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

She is proud of two of the most defining stereotypes of black culture. While representing her African-American and Creole roots, she also embraces her southern roots – “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.” To make a Black southern appreciation song even more southern, she got help from Messy Mya, a New Orleans resident who was killed in 2010, and another New Orleans native, Big Freedia, a well-known popular Bounce artist, and both of whom represent the Black genderqueer community.

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

The formation video starts off with a sample from Messy Mya saying, “What happened at the New Wil’ins?” Which mentioned how after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has never been the same. People are still upset over how the government treated the poor neighborhoods, and the natives have every right to hold onto their feelings.

In the video, Beyoncé is on top of a New Orleans police car surrounded by water. Towards the end of the video, she sinks with the car. That image symbolizes how the government let the city down after the hurricane and did not give them all the help that they needed. The video holds heavy symbolism and imagery that promotes her black southern roots and also pays homage to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Everything seemed strategically planned to push this political message on being proud to be black and from the South while adding the blunt truth of what African-Americans are still going through currently in the world. From a cameo of her daughter, Blue Ivy rocking afro to the fullest, to the man wearing spurs on the horse, to a young boy dancing in front of the cops with a sign that read “stop shooting us” in the background. This almost five-minute clip gives other races a view of the world of being unapologetically black.

Beyoncé continued to shock the world her performance of “Formation” during the Super Bowl halftime show with Coldplay and Bruno Mars. For the performance, in paying homage to important leaders in the black community, she wore a jacket similar to Michael Jackson’s during his 1993 Super Bowl performance.

Her all-black background dancers, the same from the video, were dressed in black leather as well with big afros and sporting berets to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers. During the performance, they form into an X to honor Malcom X. All this unapologetic blackness started to make some irrelevant people uncomfortable.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and TV show host Tomi Lahren both shared views believing her video and performance were anti-police and promoting her pro-black stance on her white fan base. What both fail to realize is that the Black Panthers movement is an anti-racism movement and Beyoncé’s video wasn’t promoting anti-police, it was actually promoting anti-police-brutality.

Black women, men, and children are still suffering from the injustice of various forms of racism, especially institutional racism, so for an artist like Beyoncé to bring awareness to an extremely big platform is what was needed. Maybe people forgot she was a black southern belle, or thought she would just keep quiet to keep making money or to please the media.

I applaud Beyoncé for using her voice to wake up media and to let them know that it is real out here, while being black and proud. If it makes people uncomfortable, so what? People of color shouldn’t have to silence themselves to please people who want to live in a color-blind world.

Grown women and men can feel proud of their negro nose, and little girls and boys can rock their natural hair without feeling ashamed. Having the natural hair community get so popular and having many people starting to wake up from what they see on TV and do their own research to form their opinions makes this is the most lit Black History Month thus far.

Here is a link to the performance in case you missed it:


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