Politics

Why Every White Person Needs to Listen To Beyonce’s Formation

Why Every White Person Needs to Listen To Beyonce’s Formation

Spoiler Alert: I’m gonna talk about Beyonce again for the second time in 24hrs

By the time you read this, you will have  known that our lord and saviour Beyonce broke the internet and the world again yesterday. Not just dropping a hot new single and video for “Formation”, but also destroying the SuperBowl halftime show.

White people’s reaction to the song has to be the most hilarious though, this morning I trawled the internet to find out what white folk are saying and its funny as hell.

From a website called www.apolitcallyincorrect.com (loved the article) I found this truthful gem

“Feel confused, offended, disappointed, or uncomfortable with Beyonce’s new song & music video? Too bad. I’m not a Beyonce fan. I don’t dislike her, but musically, she doesn’t do much for me. Neither does her latest single, “Formation.” But I don’t like “trap music,” and that’s okay. It wasn’t made for me, or any other white person”

Taken at face value, that might sound like the writer is saying that Beyonce made a “racist” music video, but when you read the article, you can see the truth in what the she is actually saying.

Formation is first and foremost a song about “black people” in our totality. From activist to ratchet and everything in between. Formation is a complex tapestry of “blackness” and deals with so many sub themes that unpacking them will probably end up the task of a class of undergrads at a liberal university in California. (You know, the kind of University where “Tupac’s Revolution” is an actual module.)

Now because of this, is it wrong to say that its not a song for white people? Well, it kinda is, because music doesn’t have boundaries and thats why it’s so powerful. What white folk need to do is spend time to unravel the messages in the video and then (and only then) debate the issues raised therein and the relevance of them in their own lives. The scene where a young black boy is dancing in front of riot police is poignant in the context of #BlackLivesMatter and would have served it’s purpose even if it had just been left like that.

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However, when the camera pans to a wall where “Stop killing us” is painted, during the kid’s dance, Beyonce is leaving nothing to speculation. Perhaps then you notice that the kid is wearing a hoodie and now you make the immediate reference to Trayvon Martin. This is where the “blackness” or the “song for black folks” argument kicks in. We are all human, but in America especially, there are a whole range of issues that black people face that white people just don’t. The higher proportion of black men in prison, the high rate of black high school drop outs, the economic inequalities, the fact the black men are more likely to be killed by police officers and so on and so forth. These are black issues that must be solved collectively and all Beyonce is doing in standing with US. The fact that she called her mom a creole and her pops a negro owes itself to the Black American slavery experience.

We could talk about the imagery of her drowning on top of a New Orleans police car and what that represents (in a Gucci dress though). We could talk about “hot sauce in my bag swag” (I love that line),  we could talk about Jay Z and Red Lobster (Hov!) But lets talk about what it is. It’s a black power song. Is Beyonce, say, Martin Luther King or Nina Simone? No, she’s Beyonce and in her own way she is making a stand through music.

So white folk, I want you to love this song and in many ways, it’s actually for you, you just need to understand why.

 

 

 

 

Jedi Master T

February 8th, 2016

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