a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

All Hail Queen Bey

Posted on: February 9, 2016

Dear White People:

Beyoncé’s new “Formation” video is for you. There’s an article going around saying the opposite, and for very valid reasons, but as a black woman I would like to formally invite you to have some ownership over the “Formation” Video, under a few simple conditions.


  • Do not shy away from it’s unapologetic blackness. See it. See how Beyoncé owns it, claims it, loves it, honors it, flaunts it, raises it up.

For generations black people, and black women in particular, have been told that we are not beautiful. Our kinky hair is not beautiful, the dark shade of our skin is not beautiful, our full hips and large asses are not beautiful, our full lips are not beautiful.

Society and the media reinforces this standard by subtly and blatantly encouraging us to straighten our hair, loose weight, lighten our skin and tone down our blackness. And while the last few years have seen an re-emergence of black appreciation with #blackgirlmagic #melaninonfleek and the natural hair movement, our little girls are still asked to leave school because their hair is a distraction. All the while white women can fill their lips, lift and extend their asses and rock “afros”.

You can’t appropriate black culture and not be down with its blackness.

  • #BlackLivesMatter

Not all lives matter, BlackLivesMatter.

Maybe this movement has been scary for you and Bey is giving you permission to see it from a possibly different angle by setting this movement to an amazing song, but don’t  pretend to not see the not at all subtle message that Bey is giving us. The little boy wearing a hoodie dancing before a line of white police officers as the camera pans over to the graffiti-tagged wall with the words “Stop Shooting Us” is an in your face message and reminder that the fact remains that police shoot black men and boys (and women) more than they shoot white folks. Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice are obvious reminders, but also let’s keep in mind that when white, armed militants occupied land in Oregon only 1 was shot. And if that’s not a message enough, the fact that “Formation” is shot in New Orleans is an in your face reminder to what black folks in pre and post Hurricane Katrina NOLA realized a decade ago-Black Lives Don’t matter in America. And fifty years before Katrina in the segregated North and Jim Crow South and prior to that centuries of slavery. Black folks don’t need a new movement to remind us that our lives don’t matter. They never mattered, even with a black man as President, and Bey thought she’d remind you. The video (and the Super Bowl performance) aren’t anti-police. They’re anti-police brutality. There is a difference.

  • See her costume/outfit choices for what they are.

In the “Formation” video Bey rocks an entire Gucci outfit, to be sure, but she also is dressed in specific references to black/southern culture that can’t be missed. When I see Beyoncé and her squad in Victorian-era style dress in the parlors and hallways of what I’m assuming are plantations of the south, I see black women claiming spaces that they wouldn’t have had access to during Slavery. They may have been in those beautiful rooms serving their masters, but their status as non-human property wouldn’t have allowed them really own the space as Beyoncé does in the video. To me it’s a reclaiming of those rooms that were off-limits to blacks and a giant middle finger to the status quo that was the South (and America) at that time.

Throughout the video there are other nods to black fashions of the past-everything from the acid washed denim to the dancing to the long braids, big hoop earrings and wig store shots.

  • Let Beyoncé own her black sexuality

Black women and black girls are sexualized. We are seen as hyper sexual and as a result white folks seem to think that they have ownership over our black sexuality. Beyoncé sees you trying to put her sexuality in a box and she raises you 100.

Her flawless womanhood is own display, everything from the breasts that fed her baby to the thighs that hold her body up. And while commentators after the Super Bowl thought she should’ve been more “wholesome” I can’t help but think that by wholesome they mean digestible for white audiences who are uncomfortable with black women taking ownership over our bodies and sexuality in a way that the white majority has been trying to claim for centuries.

There is so much to love about the “Formation” video and her Super Bowl performance:

  • it’s unapologetic blackness
  • all the Afros
  • #blackgirlmagic all day
  • middle fingers in the air
  • mlk = more than a dream
  • that black hat
  • cops with their hands up
  • you know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation
  • big Freeda
  • Nod to the Black Panther Movement and Malcolm X
  • black gay pride
  • babies with Afros
  • dancing all through the antebellum south

But it’s mostly the first item I listed, It’s unapologetic blackness.

If you can see “Formation” and the flawless performance that Bey served on Superbowl Sunday for what they are in the full doses that she’s serving it up in, then yes, this video is for you. If you can’t handle it. Can’t handle her black pride, her black power pride, her asking you to #staywoke (or wake up), her acknowledgement of #blacklivesmatter and the fact that racism is alive and well today. If you need to cut it into small, white sized portions that are easy to swallow, then, no. “Formation” is not for you.




2 Responses to "All Hail Queen Bey"

This. The original article (this video isn’t for you) was clearly based on good intentions but it is misguided to say that this video isn’t “for” white people. Why is it, that if a white pop star releases a video steeped in her own culture it’s for everyone, but Beyonce’s video is only for black people? It’s based on the myth that white=neutral and black=other. Same reason an all male movie is for everyone and an all female movie is a chick-flick. Everyone is expected to relate to white, but white is not expected to relate to everyone else? BS. This video is badass and inspiring.

I finally watched the video. I hadn’t though of it previously, but now I think I’m going to agree with Gabby.

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