From an American’s perspective…
Sunday’s Superbowl events provided enough Twitter fodder to last the rest of the month. Unsurprisingly enough, it was Beyoncé’s guest spot during Coldplay’s half-time show that garnered most of the attention. Now anyone with a brain can agree, she is one of the best performers of all time; but her costume choice for the act left many with raised eyebrows. Beyoncé entered the stadium true to form: flashing lights, fire shooting from the turf, a peel-off of all-female marching band members to reveal a stunning black leotard, full blonde curls, and ammunition belts rigged like suspenders. The musician showed off her new single, Formation, which she’d dropped, unannounced, the day before. Her backup dancers fell-in-line to the beat working hard and hitting the moves even harder-but the real controversy lies with the era their outfits reminisced. The berets, turtle necks, and gun holsters held strikingly resemblance to the once-powerful Black Panther Party. Founded in the 1960s in Oakland, California, the Panthers banded together as a nationalist and socialist organisation to monitor police behaviour and challenge police brutality. They did gain some popularity; in 1970 at its peak, the party had offices in 68 U.S. cities, and heavily influenced politics back in Oakland. But, as with any racially tense issue, the opinions and history are controversial. Some scholars say the BPP was the most influential black movement of the 1960s, and others describe the party as ‘more criminal than political’.
So what does this have to do with Queen B? She’s pretty renowned for making statements at concerts and awards shows (think: pregnancy announcement at the 2011 MTV VMA’s, proudly displaying FEMINIST behind her silhouette at the 2014 VMA’s). We praise her for standing up for women’s rights, for making feminism glamorous and powerful. Now she’s doing the same for her ethnicity; she’s celebrating her roots. And let’s not pretend that this police brutality issue is one from the past. Bey’s performance is just as in-sync with current events as it would have been back in ’69. My response remains almost exactly how it is after Beyoncé does practically anything – YAS QUEEN. This woman is taking her platform and using it to say something. We might not agree with it every time, but at least she’s using her powers for good. She’s taking her own experience, struggle, and perspective and using it to drive her creative expression. Let’s not forget; we call them artists for a reason.