- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 17 February 2016
- Written by JASMINE RAMOS | POLITICS CO-EDITOR
On Feb. 7, Beyoncé preformed the half time show at Superbowl 50, along side artists Coldplay and Bruno Mars. However, the performance quickly received backlash, for some thought the performance was a bit too controversial for television.
Beyoncé preformed her new song, “Formation”, a song about being in touch with her black culture, with lyrics such as “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros - I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” and “ I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making”.
And to go hand in hand with the lyrics, her performance included a theme of black empowerment, featuring her and her dancers dressed in honor of the Black Panther Party of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Marni Senofonte, Beyoncé’s stylist for the halftime show, explained in an interview with Essence magazine, “It was important to her to honor the beauty of strong black women and celebrate the unity that fuels their power. One of the best examples of that is the image of the female Black Panther. The women of the Black Panther Party created a sisterhood and worked right alongside their men fighting police brutality and creating community social programs.”
She continues, “That they started here in the Bay Area, where the Super Bowl is being held this year, was not lost on her. And they made a fashion statement with natural afros, black leather jackets and black pant suits. That image of women in leadership roles; believing they are a vital part of the struggle is undeniably provocative and served as reference and reality.”
Jose Rodriguez III, a senior Finance major, explains why the Black Panther Party was important to tribe in Beyoncé’s performance. “The Black Panther Party was created in 1966 to challenge police brutality and to empower and help Black communities who suffered from poverty, crime and poor educational systems. They had over 60 offices nationwide and, in many poor urban communities, they started a Free Breakfast Program for children. Over 10,000 children across the US benefited from this program.”
Many felt the performance was an attack on police enforcement and it did not sit well with them. One of them being former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, saying that the Half time show was not the right time for a political statement. “This is football, not Hollywood, 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.”
Republican Rep. Peter King said that her performance, “was extolling the Black Panthers, who were a terrorist organization, killing police officers in the ‘60s and ‘70s”, which is is an assumption certain people have been making with the Black Lives Matter movement as well.
Many have been said to believe that the movement suggest violence against police officers, for example, Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz has said that the movement “embraced rabid rhetoric, rabid anti-police language, literally suggesting and embracing and celebrating the murder of police officers.”
Black Lives Matter declared last fall, “We’re targeting the brutal system of policing, not individual police. The Black Lives Matter Network seeks to end the system of policing that allows for unchecked violence against black people. Right-wing portrayals of this as targeting of individual police are deliberate distortions to derail growing public debate about white supremacy, the ongoing epidemic of violence against black people, and the need to end institutionalized racism in the policing and criminal justice systems.”
Beyoncé also received backlash for the music video to “Formation”, where she makes a lot of political statements to also pair up with the song. The opening scene in the video is of her laying on top of a police car, downing in a lake, which some have interpreted to be about the slow response to dominantly black community in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.
Rodriguez continues to explain, “There was nothing racist about Beyoncé’s song “Formation”, video, or Super Bowl performance. She’s letting people know that she embraces her heritage and that Black Lives Matter. Only a racist person would believe that she’s trying to say only black lives matter. No. With all the racial injustice that’s going on, it’s a shame that we have to remind people that we are all equal. That’s what the “Black Lives Matter” movement is all about.”
Gabriela Gurber, a junior marine biology major, added, “I think as a human, and an artist, she has every right to say whatever she wants to say, and express herself however she pleases. If it is offending you, do not buy the music, do not watch the music video and do not watch the performance. People do things all the time that are offensive to another person, or another culture. Its just one of those things where you cannot make everyone happy.”
On Saturday, Saturday Night Live poked fun at the situation by creating a sketch entitled, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black”.
PHOTO COURTESY of NJ.com