Beyoncé joined (and quite possibly upstaged) headliner Coldplay during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show Feb. 7 following the release of her new single “Formation” and its accompanying music video. Sporting a bandolier of bullets reminiscent of one famously worn by Michael Jackson while her dancers dressed in tribute to the Black Panthers, Beyoncé strutted across the field in Santa Clara, Calif.’s Levi’s Stadium to share her new black empowerment anthem.
But not all viewers supported her message. Many white fans were outraged over the performance, as well as the contents of the music video, which paints scenes of the black south.
Beyoncé lounges atop a New Orleans police car stuck in Hurricane Katrina floodwater in one setting of the video, while her and her “ladies” don authentic antebellum dresses in another.
One particularly politically charged scene from the video stars a hooded child dancing in front of a line of police officers. The camera then pans to a spray painted wall marked with the phrase, “stop shooting us,” alluding to the Black Lives Matter movement.
She sings, “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas Bama,” referring to her heritage.
Beyoncé embraces her “baby hair and afros” and her “Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” She wants to show people that she is still in touch with her family history and culture despite having achieved “mega-superstardom.”
She also wants to show that she made a success of herself and aims to inspire others to get in her “formation” because they “might be a Black Bill Gates in the making.”
Taking the message of this song to the Super Bowl stage was a bold move. However, many felt left out.
“This is football, not Hollywood,” former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said in an interview with Fox News. “And I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”
#BoycottBeyonce started trending on Twitter following the performance, and protestors plan to gather outside the National Football League headquarters Feb. 16 to combat what they’re calling a “race-baiting stunt.”
Many white feminists have also expressed their discontent with the song, including singer Arika Kane.
Sorry Bey! I won't be getting in "formation". A true feminist unites, not divides…& chooses to empower, not flaunt their power #arikakane
— Arika Kane™ (@arikakane) February 9, 2016
NewsOneNow panelist Michelle Bernard, on the other hand, supports Beyoncé for discussing an argument that she says, “has been going on forever.”
“Since the days of Betty Friedan, many black women would say to you [feminists], ‘your feminist movement does not include us’,” she said. “We’ve always had to work, whether to stay home or work outside of the home after you’ve had a child. A lot of those questions that apply to white women had nothing to do with our lives.”
As a white individual, I urge other people of my race to consider this thought: not all creative projects have to be ones that everyone can connect to, and the singer should be applauded for using her power to prompt a global discussion on a pressing issue. Let Beyoncé and the black community celebrate this triumph.
The Huffington Post’s Abby Norman said it best: “Don’t act like it is our party. That cake does not have our name on it. And we didn’t get to pick the flavor. Beyoncé picked the flavor, that flavor is Unapologetically Black.”