Beyoncé is queen. Yes, I know that literally everyone knows that. I, however, just hopped on the bandwagon. All it took was a little thing called “Formation”. Not only is this the perfect song to jam out to, but it has an amazing message and an even more incredible music video. If you didn’t think Beyoncé was a symbol of empowerment before, you better think so now.
Beyoncé has empowered women previously, but this time she also praises herself. She made it to the top on her own and she’s proud of that. As she should be. Beyoncé also has a beautiful family and she’s proud of that. As she should be. People have criticized Blue Ivy’s hair and Jay-Z’s nose. Queen Bey retaliated by lavishing praise on both of her loved ones. She doesn’t care about the haters. She loves her baby girl with her beautiful hair and her supportive husband. Jackson Five nostrils and all.
Even in her stardom, Beyoncé doesn’t reject her past. She wears her southern heritage like a badge of honor. She’s proud of her parents and her Texas beginnings. No one can take that away from her. Many stars seem to forget where they came from, that they weren’t always topping charts and covering magazines. If you attempt to insult Beyoncé by bringing up her African-American and Creole heritage, you’ll be sorely disappointed. In her eyes, it wouldn’t be a put-down. It would be a compliment.
Some claim that Beyoncé doesn’t deserve her success and attribute it to anything but her own hard work. She has fired back, scoffing at how “corny” they sound. Beyoncé knows that she’s built an empire and she knows that she slays. Now, she’s singing it out for the world to hear. The biting remarks and ridiculous insults they shout at her are silenced by the sounds of her success.
Personal empowerment is not all that is discussed in the song. #BlackLivesMatter is also addressed. The clips shown throughout the music video are remarkably thought provoking. Beyoncé’s millions of fans are forced to confront the horrors faced by the black community thanks to a deep-rooted prejudice tracing back centuries. Police brutality and even basic racism are a major problem even in today’s society. Many wish to ignore the issue, hoping that if they don’t acknowledge it, it won’t be real. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. These problems will continue unless they are addressed.
No, Beyoncé is not racist. No, “Formation” is not racist. The fact that this piece of work is considered racist shows the problem itself. This artist and song are only striving to bring important issues to light. You cannot deny that there is a prejudice against black men in our law enforcement. Young black men were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers in 2015. Even though non-white Americans comprise of less than 38% of American citizens, nearly half of all people killed by police are minorities¹. This is unexcusable and people are finally retaliating against this injustice. I applaud Beyoncé for acknowledging this problem, even though it has turned many against her. I do respect law enforcement officials. I am incredibly thankful for them. However, I also believe that those officers who allow ridiculous prejudices to interfere with their duties should be held accountable for their actions. These killings have gone on too long and it is time for them to end.
Her influence as a major icon has allowed Beyoncé to open the eyes of many young people to issues affecting the black community. When teenagers hear of a new song by Beyoncé, they immediately search for it on YouTube. When watching the “Formation” music video, they are viewing a slightly more artistic view of police brutality unadulterated by adults screaming that the #BLM movement is racist and evil. I’m immensely grateful for a celebrity, especially one as prominent as Beyoncé, using their platform to raise awareness to a cause that has such a horrible stigma surrounding it.
Beyoncé clearly supports #BlackLivesMatter, has acknowledged in a huge way that she is a feminist, and is transparent on her love for her family and heritage. This influential woman could have chosen to take a back seat and let others do the work, but she didn’t. Even though it sparked outrage across the nation, she did all of those things. Granted, Beyoncé is not perfect. She is not the world’s greatest feminist and has definitely made mistakes (e.g. cultural appropriation), but you can’t deny that she’s making feminism more mainstream. Even if those who adopt the movement because of her aren’t perfect feminists, they can learn. They can aid in de-stigmatizing the term. Mainstream feminism is better than no feminism at all. Same goes for #BlackLivesMatter. The movement is hated by many, but Beyoncé has no doubt brought attention to it. Even if a portion of the attention is hate on Beyoncé and #BLM, people are being exposed to the movement in a more positive light. This is especially important for young people who don’t learn about these things in school. Beyoncé’s work may push them to educate themselves on these controversial matters.
As an amateur videographer, I simply must include the fact that I adore the video in itself. The footage makes the best use possible of five minutes to visualize a culture, movement, and message. It’s truly amazing. The clips differ greatly and are extremely brief, but are welded seamlessly into an eye-opening narrative. It is an extraordinary piece of work that is simultaneously simple and profound. I can honestly say that “Formation” is my current favorite music video. In basic terms: it slays.
I am all about spreading the word about movements I believe in. It’s literally one of the three cornerstones of this blog! Beyoncé is doing the same thing as me, but on a slightly larger scale. I can appreciate that. All I ask of you is to go listen to “Formation”. Soak in some activist vibes. Have a dance party. Be proud of Beyoncé. Be proud of yourself for taking the time to watch the music video seriously. Think about it long and hard. You’ll thank yourself later. And I’m sure Beyoncé would thank you too.
¹ Full article can be found here