White People: Shut Up About Beyoncé

After the release of her game-changing, brilliant video, Formation, and the stir her Superbowl halftime show caused with dancers dressed like Black Panthers, Beyoncé is blowing up everyone’s feeds everywhere. And one thing I am shocked/notshocked to see is white outrage about both.

Let me begin by saying that I’m not a Beyoncé fan. I’m not a fan of any of the pop divas. I don’t have anything against them; it’s just not music that interests me. So Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Madonna, Mariah, Adele, I apologize, but I’m sure you and your massive success could not possibly care less that I would rather be listening to punk or classical. The only reason I’m pointing this out is to make sure you know I’m not a Beyoncé fan. This is not about defending a beloved star.

Let me tell you what it IS about.

The vast majority of Black people in the US are descended from people who were dragged here against their will and forced to live in a culture that shut them out completely from mainstream artistic production for 400 years. For 400 years, Black people were living in a culture where their pain, their culture, and their art were appropriated and sanitized for white consumption, or, more often, shut out of the narrative entirely, replaced by racist caricatures or rendered invisible. For 400 years, the stories of Black people on this continent were untold, belittled, or made the tools of white narrative and white profit.

Now we’re in a cultural moment where there are powerful, mainstream Black artists telling Black stories that may or may not include white people, may tell uncomfortable truths about white people in Black lives, or may use white people as metaphors. For 400 years Black people were used as metaphors in white art, so my sympathy for “not all white people” and “that’s not fair” is somewhere at the bottom of a pile of Magical Negroes, Gone with the Wind, and token Black friends.

In this cultural moment where powerful, mainstream Black artists like Beyoncé are telling their stories on their own terms, the white people who controlled the narrative– including how and when Black stories have been told– for the past 400 years need to sit back, shut up, and listen, listen, listen. You don’t like how white people are being portrayed? Spend some time thinking about why Black artists are portraying white people that way instead of demanding they adjust their stories to conform to your self-image as “the good guy.” We are not the heroes in these stories. We are not the intended audience. We are irrelevant, and there’s nothing people in power hate more than to be made irrelevant, but the fact remains that these are Black stories, by, for, and about Black people. You don’t like it? Don’t watch. But I recommend that you do, and give it some real thought. This is their truth. You do not get to dictate how Black artists see or portray their own lives.

And if the image of the tiny child dancing in front of a line of police officers, who then surrender to him, does not move you after little Tamir Rice (and so many others), you have no soul.

Formation-surrender

The line of riot police surrendering to the power of a beautiful dancing child is not “anti-white” or “anti-police.” It is pro-hope, pro-life, pro-art, and pro-Black. If you don’t like the metaphor of the line of white police officers here, I suggest you spend some time thinking about why Beyoncé chose it.

The Formation video and the Superbowl show are examples of a powerful Black woman at the top of her game brilliantly telling Black stories for Black people, brilliantly seizing the narrative and asserting the beauty, power, and truth of a people who have been stringently and deliberately silenced for centuries in this country.

The call for Black women to get in formation, get information, and celebrate their power gave me chills. You hear a lot about “Black excellence,” and Formation is a potent reminder that Black excellence isn’t something created by white people congratulating themselves for bending down to hand out opportunities. Too many of us define “white ally” as “someone who is desperately needed by Black people to help them, and therefore deserves all the cookies.” Black excellence is already there, has always been there. It doesn’t need white validation, and the lack of fucks Beyoncé has for white validation from the center of her Black power is giving some white people fits.

beyonce-formation-video-696x385

Beyoncé, I hope you’re bathing in a marble tub full of white tears this morning.

My fellow white people: Listen. Listen. Listen. This is a Black moment, rarer than rare in this culture. If you don’t like the way Black artists portray white people, work on changing the impact of white people in Black lives, not on telling Black people they’re wrong about their own lives.

SIGNAL BOOST: “We Slay, Part I” by New South Negress is an excellent analysis of Formation.

IN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTIONS:

  1. No, the title is not meant literally.
  2. No, I am not an angry Black lady, but thank you for the compliment.
  3. No, capitalizing “Black” does not reveal a secret plot for racial superiority. Capitalizing the word “Black” in reference to people is a linguistic thing. “White people” has a squidgy definition and refers to a hodgepodge of people from varied ethnic groups, all of which are capitalized, such as “Celtic people” or “Swedish people.” “Black” as shorthand for “The people of the African Diaspora living in the United States” is rightly capitalized as “Black people” in the same way we say “French people.” “African American” is linguistically and historically troubled because “Africa” is a continent with thousands of disparate cultures, and the people we label as such were forcibly separated from most aspects of their cultures of origin when they got to the US, creating an entirely new, coherent culture best described as “Black.” Of course, the word as an ethnic descriptor has other applications (“Black people in Germany,” for example), but this is the one I’m using in the article. Not all linguists agree, but that’s my position.

 

 

 

 

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126 thoughts on “White People: Shut Up About Beyoncé

  1. Phyllis Farr says:

    Good article. Just want to say all the people in Charlotte, North Carolina (home of the Carolina Panthers who were playing last night) were quite happy with the panther outfits! 😉

  2. Great and thoughtful analysis. Your candor is spot on. Shared

  3. April says:

    So, what you are saying is simply that for 400 years, black people were, by and large, used by white people for profit, and that you feel, how they have been portrayed, belittled, etc., and used by white people has ALWAYS been WRONG, but even so, it is okay for black people to turn around and do the exact same thing to white people because of pay backs or turn around is fair play or whatever you want to call it? Let me be perfectly clear …….. It WAS wrong to treat ANY PERSON as less than, it IS wrong to treat ANY PERSON as less than and it will ALWAYS BE wrong to treat ANY PERSON as less than. Period. End of story. What is taking place now is hypocritical, to say the least. I have never harmed another human. Grouping is wrong, plain and simple.

    • Donna says:

      Your comment proves his point.

    • Nick G says:

      When exactly did it become about you? Did I miss Beyoncé singing about April-who-comments-on-blogs? And your definition of “exact same” needs a lot of work.

    • Ashley says:

      Per the article: “You don’t like how white people are being portrayed? Spend some time thinking about why Black artists are portraying white people that way instead of demanding they adjust their stories to conform to your self-image as “the good guy.” We are not the heroes in these stories. We are not the intended audience. We are irrelevant, and there’s nothing people in power hate more than to be made irrelevant, but the fact remains that these are Black stories, by, for, and about Black people. You don’t like it? Don’t watch. But I recommend that you do, and give it some real thought. This is their truth. You do not get to dictate how Black artists see or portray their own lives.”

      It’s not about you. It’s about re-claiming, re-defining and restructuring what has been destroyed. Instead of taking offense, just be proud that someone who had no voice, is beginning to have one. It’s out of all emotions, good, bad and ugly, but not out of hate for any race. It’s pride, just that same as the LGBT community. Join the celebration!

      • Andrew says:

        If it’s not about me, then why did the author of the article address me? I don’t care about Beyoncé; she can do whatever she wants. I don’t want to be a part of it, yet the author addresses all ‘white’ people, so I am included in this audience without my consent. You roped us in only to tell us that it’s not about us. Leave us alone, then. Go specifically target the people who are taking issue with her actions (a minority of ‘white’ people).

      • bretagnebk says:

        This blog post made me sit, my lips quiver against the will of my chin ten times over. I can not thank you enough for having such an honorable, honest perspective and view, but more than that I can not express my gratitude that you are bold enough to share. Blessings upon blessings to you!

      • bretagnebk says:

        How and why did the LGBT community issue come up as a result of this blog posts? Please tell me you are not attempting to compare the issues of racism, slavery, and LGBT Pride. That would create a very mute discussion as there is zero comparison whatsoever. LGBT lifestyles was accepted in many cultures and many empires whereas being black and the issues of slavery have not had that long lasting “pride” nor acceptance. The LGBT Community is certainly discriminated upon but I don’t think comparing to Race and racism is the same. Do people compare that to Nazism?

      • cv says:

        because Big Freedia, a very well-known entertainer in the LGBTQ community, is heavily featured in the video and had a huge part in its production.

      • John says:

        This actually does remind me of LGBT issues right now because there is a growing movement within the LGBT community that argues that if you are not a member of a particular group you have no business having an opinion (or at least expressing that opinion) and you should shut up and do as you are told. In particular, trans activists, queer activists, and LGBT racial/ethnic minorities have been making these arguments about white LGB people who have traditionally run the major national organizations.

        I understand the logic that minorities (and minorities within larger coalitions) should of course be allowed to articulate their own experiences, views, and agendas without needing someone from a more privileged group to censor it or filter it or whatever. Despite being a minority (a gay man) and being sympathetic to the position of other minorities I can’t really comprehend what it’s like to be black or transgendered or any other disadvantaged group. I rely on people who do understand it to tell me what it is like.

        The problem that I have is that I am supposed to shut up and do whatever I am told without forming an opinion of my own because I am incapable of understanding. I should have no voice or opinion about any issue that I haven’t lived through. Reality just doesn’t work like that. The civil rights movement would never have been a success without white allies. The gay rights movement would never have been a success without straight allies. The trans movement cannot be a success without cis allies. That doesn’t mean that allies get to dictate your goals or explain to you what they think your problems are. Allies have to understand what you are going through. But being hostile to them and telling them to sit down, shut up, and do as they are told is counterproductive to a degree that is really just damaging.

    • CV says:

      How is any of what your saying relevant to this subject? Do you honestly feel like Beyonce is “turning around and doing the exact same thing” to white people? What are you even talking about? And be very careful with the words you choose to employ if you decide to respond to this comment. Here, I’ll even help you out a little bit: discrimination and racism ARE NOT. THE SAME. THING.

    • If Black people did even a millionth to us that white people have done to them, then and maybe only then would we have a right to complain and whine. JS

      • john says:

        Umm, they have for the last 30+ years. Overachieved. Wake up.

      • SKM says:

        This is more to John, dear sir, know that you just said 30+ years of black people accomplishing things in a world (that is white, if i may add) versus 400 years of being in slavery…..but that’s just slavery. So we’re not talking about after slavery was abolished and black people had to suffer even more by being hanged because they were black, being tortured because they were black, being shot because they were black, and that was from the end of slavery to the latest black being killed by police, (which has has happened in the last 2 months). Overachieved you say….no honey you have yet to see what the black people in this world has come to accomplish. So you wake up.

    • EmeraldGoddess says:

      April the article never said that. It did say that Black artists are allowed to tell their story how they want. BTW when Black folks tell their story, in no way, shape, or form are White people mistreated.

    • jennifer says:

      Hmmmm blacks are doing the exact same thing; you say? Blacks aren’t enslaving anyone. Not s single whip or chain had been used on a white person at the hands of s black person. Blacks aren’t creating any Jim Crow laws. Blacks aren’t red lining home and business loans. Blacks aren’t refusing to hire anyone. Blacks aren’t making whites sit at the back of busses. Blacks aren’t making whites use the side door. Whites are not the maids, butlers or nannies of any black babies. Black cops are not arresting and killing whites I disproportionate numbers. What do you mean by doing the exact same thing?! There’s nothing hypocritical going on. This is entirely new.

      • Paul W. Aswright says:

        “Not s [sic] single whip or chain had been used on a white person at the hands of s black person.”

        This is inexcusable historical ignorance. Have you never heard of the Barbary corsairs? They captured European slaves for centuries, even raiding as far as Iceland, including white American sailors who were unfortunate enough to cross paths with them. In fact, the white slaves taken to Africa outnumber the black slaves taken to North America during the same time frame.

      • Rob says:

        Paul is the only one who seems to know his history. Kudos Paul!

      • Ohhoney says:

        Um the Barbary cosairs also attacked parts of Western Africa and they are largely thought of as Ottoman/North African and not “black.” Not sure if you realize, but lots of North Africans still don’t identify as “black”. Plus, nice try, but there was a total of estimated 800k-1.2 million slaves taken by the corsairs, as compared to 12.5 million slaves taken from parts of Africa to North America and the Carribean.

    • Jill says:

      Hear hear. You don’t right wrongs with more wrongs.

    • Aimee says:

      Yeeeesss……PERIOD!

    • Kathryn says:

      OK so I fully agree with this statement. If you want sympathy or rectification hypocracy is not the way. Jews did not look for revenge on the Egyptians, Romans, or Nazis because forgiveness and moving forward in G-d’s way. The Irish were also sold into slavery and bred with African-American slaves to make the perfect color to create more slaves and higher profits hence Black Irish (you know the ones you see with blue and green eyes and Carmel skin.) Everyone but white Protestants have been oppressed at one point or another but 2 wrongs never make a right and if you continue to group people together based off the color of their skin rather than the love and compassion or hate and vengence in their hearts then you are just as bad if not worse than those you claim to be the enemy.

    • Jody Wright says:

      Sounds like Ms April and every other Caucasian under this blog are in their feelings. Correct me if I’m wrong but how many of you guys wind milled like this when countless black lives were taken by white for basically nothing? Possibly none, right? Not speaking up when you know it’s wrong is just as wrong as doing the act of hatred yourselves. So like the author said “Shut up and listen, listen, listen” WE NEGROS HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY and I will be TOTALLY HONEST, you guys may not like it..🖕🖕🖕

    • Carrie says:

      I’m confused at your comment if this is towards her video I don’t know if maybe you were watching something different than I saw but how in any way is she belittling anybody?? Or how is this article belittling anybody?? I think this article is towards the people who are in uproar about her video. Which is a harsh look at reality in the US, young innocent lives have been picked off one by one by the ones who should be protecting them and the majority of them are African American. It’s about time people start bringing this to light and unfortunately if people believe that speaking up about it or supporting black lives matter as grouping people or black people attacking white people suck it up. She’s a woman speaking out about REAL issues that people are experiencing every single day. This article is just stating we should all make ourselves more aware of what is going on and realize the statement people are trying to make before going crazy over Beyonce making a video that is 100% reality.

    • Rae says:

      More white tears for Beyonce’s bathtub.

    • dbushik says:

      “…it is okay for black people to turn around and do the exact same thing to white people…”

      I have no clue where you would get this idea. Black people are enslaving white people? Black people are enforcing a system of black supremacy and oppression and theft over white people at levels from the social to the public and civic? On what planet is this happening? You’re equating literal violence and bondage with what? Speech you don’t approve of because your ego is so fragile an artistic statement like this threatens it? There is zero perspective for history (which I understand is complicated) and zero perspective for reality (which really isn’t complicated at all) in the argument you are making.

      The loss of privilege is not the same thing as oppression. Not by a long shot. That is a ridiculously twisted POV.

    • Will Pollard says:

      You seriously comparing Beyoncé’s music video to slavery and Jim crow and mass incarceration? Where’s she doign anything remotely similar to white people? Get a grip.

    • Rita Fierro says:

      1) Even if Black people wanted to do the same to whites that was done to them, which the overwhelming majority don’t (But that is your fear you just outed yourself! No one talked about doing the same to whites.) Blacks don’t have the institutional power that is required to return the favor, neither in the united states nor elsewhere. You are talking about individual racism. Others are talking about institutional racism, that is the set a composite of a set of policies and practices that TRANSCENDS individuals. It’s the set of policies and procedures that make it so that people of color in America get inferior healthcare, housing, mental health services, more incarceration, more depression more lead poising, more foster care, more trauma, and the list goes on and on and on because these policies and procedures were set up by white folk for white folk and even now that it’s open there are hidden practices that keep MOST people of color from accessing that which others have access to .
      2) You JUST DID harm someone, and I suspect it’s not the first time. You dismissed someone’s narrative because they see the world differently from you. That IS HARM. AND IT BUILT OUR COUNTRY AND IT NEEDS TO STOP. Is it so hard for you to listen to another perspective and UNDERSTAND it, even if you don’t agree with it? Really?

    • Bianca Murphy says:

      That is totally NOT what she is saying in this blog. Your preconceived notions are doing all the talking here!

  4. I agree with everything you say in this article, but I wonder, if the ultimate goal is for white people to recognize the fallacy in some of their judgements, is “White people, Shut Up About…” a useful entry point into that conversation? It’s your forum, and obviously powerful for you, and other leaders of justice to speak forwardly and however you wish to in a public domain (I do think that is a progressive act in and of itself)… but if the goal is to shift perspectives, it’s my experience (mostly from failures), that bold provocation is limited in its ability to contribute to that. Just some fodder for conversation. I always appreciate your contributions and am interested in generating dialogue around the different ways we can use our voices to contribute to positive change.

    • Hey, Ashkon! Thanks for reading. To be honest, I meant more “White People: Stop Complaining about/Trashing Beyonce,” and I think that’s clear from the body of the essay. It’s been interesting to me, though, how fragile white people are around being told that our opinions of something aren’t important. So although the result was unintended, I wouldn’t change it now since it has revealed a lot of white fragility that I hope people examine. Of course, you’re exactly right in that the exact people who should be examining that are the most likely to be turned off by direct provocation, but perhaps some people will see the overreaction to the title and examine their own reactions to it.

      • Darren Last says:

        “Of course, you’re exactly right in that the exact people who should be examining that are the most likely to be turned off by direct provocation, but perhaps some people will see the overreaction to the title and examine their own reactions to it.” Good luck with that.

      • mary says:

        Thank you. I’m reading through the responses and see our Caucasian people proving your point without realizing it.

    • Melody says:

      Exactly, what I think. I found no issue with this video and laughed when other people did. It’s just the shut up white people that caught my attention.. That’s why people are getting upset and arguing back. It’s a natural reaction. As you can see here, no one is commenting on the fallacy of the video but the portrayal of this article. I personally loved the video!

    • dbushik says:

      The problem with this kind of thinking is that power concedes nothing without a demand. I appreciate the desire for civility and such, but realistically, empirically, it amounts to nothing.

      http://www.blackpast.org/1857-frederick-douglass-if-there-no-struggle-there-no-progress

      I really think there is an important point here in how much white people (or privileged people in general, but in the terms we are talking with regard to American culture, white people specifically) feel like their opinions are inherently endowed with some special significance and importance that they do not give to the opinions of people who are not the same.

  5. AndiePants says:

    Reblogged this on The Gayby Project: Making the Next Generation of Fabulous and commented:
    Brilliant.

  6. I am a white woman. I am CRAZY about Beyoncé and bowled over by her power and artistry. I am – quite honestly – shocked and confused about how any white person could be offended by “formation,” the music video, or her super bowl performance. I am nothing but moved and inspired by it. SLAY, Queen Bey

  7. Deirdre says:

    Excellently said. Thank you. I am sharing this.

  8. Maya says:

    Most people only want to hear opinions that already validate their own ideas. People in general do not like to be challenged and almost every response to this woman’s music video ( I don’t own a single Beyonce anything either) from white folks has been about THEIR problems with what it is. Very little about what it could mean outside of their very white lives. It’s like “men’s activists” being all butthurt about feminism. So, women Don’t have it harder/get paid less than men for the same work than men or is that a myth too? I’m sorry (No, obviously I’m not really) your feelings are crushed because what she is saying somehow hurts you ( though for life of me I cannot see how it actually does hurt anyone as no one here is portrayed in a negative light, not even the police with their hands up. Is a small dancing child really trying to kill all law enforcement? I doubt my many police officer or enlisted family and friends would agree. But NOT BEING INCLUDED IS WRONG…Yah, we already know how that feels…). Maybe think about why you want your hands held and need
    be serenaded with soft words and images in order for you to listen to those who have so long not been given voice. Your privilege is showing…and it’s not cute.

  9. p says:

    I have issues with this article. Especially given the half-time show was directed by a white man from Britain.

    I also have big issues with millionaires on the racially motivated murder of working class black children, I find it grossly offensive and tasteless.

    • Sean says:

      So a working class black person who doesn’t have the immense platform that Beyonce has should be the only one allowed to make a statement about this?

  10. Larry says:

    The music video and song Formation is awesome. The Super Bowl halftime show barely even seemed connected to the message in Formation…just an observation.

  11. rstruktr says:

    There was nothing offensive about this video or the song, and I haven’t heard what’s being said about it, but imo telling people to shut up because their ethnicity invalidates their views is problematic and unnecessary, since it’s their views that are the problem, not their bodies. You said it yourself…

    “The line of riot police surrendering to the power of a beautiful dancing child is not “anti-white” or “anti-police.” It is pro-hope, pro-life, pro-art, and pro-Black”

    That’s true, and it’s something that needs to be understood by more white people, but telling whites to shut up / their views are irrelevant because of their ancestry is definitely not going to get them to the point of understanding. It’s either going to generate active push back or at best cause them to tune out.

    The fact is, this video was meant for everyone, not just black viewers. And blacklivesmatter needs white people to hear and properly interpret that message as well.

    I mean, if black activists aren’t addressing whites when they say “black lives matter” than who are they saying that too? themselves? clearly not.

    So like it or not, white people need to be an active part of this conversation.

    • xander says:

      eventually, as the layers of historical thinking fall away, white people can be an active part but first they need to actively listen, actively think, and actively empower.

      #notallmen has a kernel of truth but it is disingenuous to say that my feeling unfairly treated by inclusion is somehow equal to all women dealing with harassment.

      when a group is fighting for their rights, lives, and dignity from an oppressor that looks like you it’s better to ask yourself how _am_ I oppressing, what can I do better. their lives are worth my discomfort.

    • Chantal says:

      Thank you. Yes, yes and yes

    • dbushik says:

      There is a difference between the ideal we strive for and the place we currently reside. Don’t be confused by “color blind” nonsense. Perspective matters. “All lives matter” and “#notallmen” are great examples of how “color blind” thinking is the equivalent of suggesting the best way to avoid bad weather is to never carry an umbrella. Yes, in theory, those concepts make sense. Once you bring the perspectives of history and reality into it, those concepts are great aspirations, but total nonsense in the moment we are currently in.

  12. Chris says:

    If this were a white artist showing the slave traders in 2016 STILL practicing slavery I would agree. Unfortunately you are still under the misconception that only American whites are racists. I grew up in the South and Blacks are a very racist ethnic group. So this has nothing to do with America in 2016 because I am fairly certain there isn’t a person still living that ever owned a plantation manned by slaves. If any minority has the right to be angry it us the American Indian.

    • cv says:

      that isn’t racism, friend. look up the definition. what you’re talking about is discrimination. big difference! systemic being the operative here. check yourself.

    • dbushik says:

      Trying to view racism as being about what’s in the hearts of men as opposed to what actions people take (and what policies their governments enact) is ridiculous.

      Pro tip: You can’t look into another person’s soul with any accuracy.

      There’s piles of totally inarguable data that shows we act differently, as a society, toward different ethnicities. That’s what racism is, and black people (and human being in general) have plenty of reason to be unhappy with the way America has treated black people, and still treats them today.

      Go study the history of redlining. Or the concept of shooter bias and it’s clear existence. Or the disproportionate way our drug laws are enforced. Seriously, if you really believe what you are saying, you’ll be shocked when you look at the data.

  13. Amanda says:

    The only thing offensive is Beyonce’s boring ass performance. She’s been performing the same old routine for the past 10 years and y’all keep buying her shit and praising her unoriginal ass. No wonder the halftime show ratings drop from the previous year whenever this overrated mess is performing.

  14. Sweetp says:

    Powerful read, which also gave me chills.

  15. mary says:

    Hatred for someone of another race just because of their race is bigotry, whether you’re a white bigot or a black bigot, you’re still a narrow minded jerk if you’re basing your opinion of someone else because of their race. Beyoncé proved herself a bigot at half time and you joined her show. Hope that makes you raise your fist in pride.

    • Editor says:

      Bigotry and racism are different. I can’t think of a white person who has been told by a Black power structure where they cannot live, where they cannot work, where they cannot shop, or lend money, or go to school. I don’t know of a justice system that treats whites more harshly than blacks. That is racism.

    • dbushik says:

      Yes. Because, ultimately, literal and tangible and historic violence and murder and theft and slavery and oppression are the exact equivalence to making art that makes some white person question whether they support systemic racism. Same thing. Exactly. Great point.

  16. Amen. This is why I left my ppl in Mississippi. They have this deeply embedded idea that they have to ride the coattails of white ppl in order to achieve success. It’s sad really.

  17. K says:

    So why is the B in black people capitalized and the W in white people is not, do you want equality or superiority?

    • It’s a linguistic thing. If I had been discussing Irish Americans or Swedish Americans, I would have capitalized. “White” as a race descriptor is not a proper noun. “Black” as shorthand for “The people of the African Diaspora living in the United States” is rightly a proper noun. “African American” is linguistically and historically troubled because “Africa” is a continent with thousands of cultures. Additionally, the people we label as such were forcibly separated from most aspects of their cultures of origin when they got to the US, creating an entirely new, coherent culture best described as “Black.” There are many interesting articles about this. Not all linguists agree, but that’s my position. You are, of course, free to disagree about capitalization of proper nouns.

  18. Allan Kowalczyk says:

    I don’t get the black vs white argument in this. Not all cops are white. The video clearly makes the cops the bad guys. Such a shame, a lot of great men and women put their lives on the line daily to protect us and it’s pretty shitty how social media has made then the enemy. Shame on you.

  19. Rocknation says:

    Don’t be so quick to assume that it’s white people who are doing all the complaining.

    Not all blacks equate “excellence” with exploiting sexual egotism and lawlessness regardless of how rich and famous it has made the exploiter in the process.

  20. Ashley says:

    Nailed it!

  21. Paul W. Aswright says:

    What are your favorite composers/pieces/recordings? Do you live anywhere near Bethesda, MD?

  22. janet Jackson did this gig a long time ago. it’s old

  23. Misty says:

    I actually think performances should be about entertaining the masses, not with any kind of agenda about black or white. There’s more going on in life than black lives matter and white power! I don’t care what color you are, don’t try to send me a message in a song all the time just put on a good performance!

  24. Too bad she sold out to Pepsi/Whit(e)manCorporation.

  25. yourmom says:

    You are incredibly blind to the hypocritical double standard of racism. “Hands up don’t shoot” dipicted by the little black kid, while the white people are the riot police. Are you fucking kidding? Dressed as black panthers for the fucking superbowl. Maybe next year we can do a kkk theme. Oh wait, hypocrisy wont allow that. Racism is exceptable as long as its black hating on white. We didn’t drag them here 400 years ago, someone else did. We don’t force them to live in ghettos and kill each other. Everything they do is a choice. Being killed by police is most often a choice, when you reach for a weapon or choose to not comply, that is a risk you chose. People will not get out of your own personal responsibility by crying racism. You wield a gun, you point a gun, you shoot a gun, You may be shot by one as well. So no, we will not shut up. We will not be silent. ALL LIVES MATTER! Black people are no more valuable than any other race. We all bleed. Holding on to hate for white people is doing exactly what black people are “oppressed ” by, hence hypocrite. We don’t owe black people shit. Get a job, cut the thug life nonsense, pull up your pants and use proper English. Respect is earned, not demanded.

    • SP says:

      Yes! Thank you! You GET it!

    • Talk2neit says:

      I’m completely offended by your comment. Not all black ppl who have issues with race, discrimination, and distrust for the police are living in ghettos, sagging their pants, selling drugs, murdering and fighting the police. You just proved what is so important about Black Panthers, civil rights, and the black lives matter movement. I’m a woman, with 2 Master’s degrees, from a predominantly white area in New Jersey and I’ve been called a nigger on campus at the university of Delaware, I’ve been detained by police for driving into a certain neighborhood and I’ve filled complaints against the police for mistreatment and discrimination and didn’t get so much as an acknowledgment of receipt of the complaint. OPEN YOUR DAMN EYES, we couldn’t even sit next to each other 40 years ago. Those ghettos you speak of were built by white ppl to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods. I can’t even go on, sint be so mad and grow a bone of humility and understanding. That’s what we are asking for here. Smh the ignorance is so real.

    • xander says:

      _We_ are not being arrested at twice the rate of others, _we_ are not being killed regularly by the police, _we_ are admitted to college disproportionately.

      this is so because black lives _don’t_ matter in america. sure all lives should, but the facts show that they don’t.

      so no blacklivesmatter doesn’t want to be more valued, or even expect to be equally valued, it’s a plea to be valued _at all_.

    • xeromachine says:

      “Get a job, cut the thug life nonsense, pull up your pants and use proper English.”

      Nope, no racism here!

      Nothing about that video, or the SB performance had anything remotely to do with hate of whitey. It was about Black Pride. About how, despite the institutionalized, systemic racism built into this country, Black people are (re) claiming their rightful place among the American Citzenry.

      Yes, “ALL LIVES MATTER!!1one!” but right now, we are focusing on the Black Lives, because they are the ones getting gunned down in the streets by overzealous LEOs. Black Lives Matter is not saying “to the exclusion of all others” but is saying Black Lives Matter “just as much as white and brown lives, so please recognize this fact.

      Ifn ot complying with officers instructions were a legit Death Sentence, then I, as a white man who has had his share of run-ins with the police, should have been dead a long, long time ago. But, I’m white, you see, and thus not seen, automatically, as a threat, and am treated like a citizen whose life matters. Black Lives Matter too.

      But, continue to be terrified of the White Genocide™ that is sure to come, oh, never.

    • Linda says:

      Who the hell is asking you for ANYTHING. Your lack of understanding or knowledge of black lives is clear. “Get a job, cut the thug life nonsense, pull up your pants and use proper English”. For your information the hard-working, college-educated, belted pants, proper english speaking black people are invisible to people like you and it is clear that you don’t respect black people. Maybe you need to get a life. If you don’t want to watch her, the video or anything else that is black related, fine.

    • weakargument says:

      You are incredibly blind to the hypocritical double standard of your argument. Why is that logic only applied to one side? Why do people complain that cops do not deserve scrutiny, or oversight, or body cams, or investigations. Why do people complain that cops are afraid to do their job for fear of losing their jobs and pensions? What is wrong with holding them more accountable for the job they do? If you argue that black people would not get in trouble if they are doing the right thing the same applies to police. If in fact, they are acting appropriately and professionally, they won’t lose their job or their pension. Unfortunately cell phone cameras have revealed an ugly truth that people do not want to accept or acknowledge. It’s a pretty immature response to deliberately try to dismiss that with condescending remarks about how to wear pants.

  26. Anna says:

    A song that brags about wealth and sex etc has nothing at all to do with 400 years of history. I think her having that line of cops and that child in the video (has nothing at all to do with the song in any way) was so incredibly dangerous. How many little kids, who look up to her are now going to watch this and think they can do that and not get hurt? Little kids dont know any better. This was beyond reckless and being a braggart about what you have when so many have so littlw doesnt earn points with many either

  27. Keith k says:

    I will pay for the racist people to go back to there “homeland”. Although the majority of them are no longer black. They are a mix of many nations. We are all of one blood. There should be no hate towards your fellow man. People bringing up race to get their 15 minutes of fame is why we still have race issues. Stop breeding hate.

  28. Sharlaine McDaniel says:

    I don’t see this as any different than the Oscars not having any black nominees. Maybe none of their performances were Oscar worthy. Opinions are like assholes everyone has one.

  29. SP says:

    Yes! Thank you! You GET it!

  30. Brit says:

    Why don’t we ever hear about the native americans who had their land taken away from them. The women raped and killed, their children killed. Everything they owned burned down and taken away. What about the forgotten slaves, the Irish slave slave trade. The Irish burned alive, the Irish children taken away from their parents and sold as slaves, who were cheaper than African slaves and didn’t mean as much to them. What about the holocaust and all the Jewish people that were killed. I’m not saying African Americans don’t matter, they did indeed go through some bad shit just like the other races. Why do we focus so much on black people like they are the only race being discriminated against. They want to be equal yet there is offense to everything, everything is racist yet there’s BET, blackpeoplemeet.com etc. I’m not saying black people are not discriminated against and need to shut up and take it but why do we need to blow up on every damn thing that can be construed as racist. A great example would be a panel that was on a historic marry go round for over 100 years that was a painting of a little black kid with a rooster in his face and he looked scared. This panel was taken down after being up for over 100 years on a historic marry go round, never noticed or brought up, until now with all this shit going on. Now there’s complaints with the Oscars because not enough black people were nominated. Why can’t everyone white, black, pink blue, whatever the hell you are just stop making such a big fucking deal about everything. If my white ass is going to pull a gun out on a cop regardless of if he is black or white then he is going to shoot me, I would expect that. If someone is walking down the street that looks like a thug even if they are white, I am going to “clutch my purse” I won’t even be looking at the color of your skin I’m looking at how you present yourself. Now that I went off on a rant that is a little off topic about how white people need to shutup about Beyonce, I’m going to end my rant and wait for the hate replies that are going to tell me how ignorant I am.
    Sincerely,
    One of the white people that need to shut up about beyonce

    • Kathryn says:

      I agree its about how you present yourself and most of the crime against black people is black people which is also represented in Black artists music such as J. Cole. We are continuously segregating ourselves by saying black ppl stop this white ppl stop this Asian people stop that. How about we all stop w the hypocracy and just realize everybody’s lives matter equally and we should work harder to register to eachother and close the gap.

  31. Lori Heller says:

    Wow I think you summed this up eloquently an couldn’t agree with you more.

  32. Love this #truth . Wonderfully worded, clear and concise – re-shared this from my daughter’s Facebook post.

  33. Life of A Deva says:

    I absolutely love this article……you hit the nail on the head.

  34. Buck says:

    Honestly I don’t see anything wrong with what Beyonce did but that term “White People” is offensive to me. Maybe it is because I don’t seen color as meaning anything.

    • Editor says:

      It means something if your path through the world is more treacherous because of color.

    • cv says:

      not “seeing color” – the ultimate privilege of being white. yay!

    • xander says:

      “White people” is offensive, but not the naming of it. it is offensive that the myth of whiteness is still taken as fact.

      when I hear it I feel sad and uncomfortable that we haven’t stamped it out yet. I feel anxious about how I’ve blindly replicated it before _starting_ to see how I do that, and starting to learn how to stop.

      but it is good for those in power to feel uncomfortable, it’s where learning happens.

  35. Kathryn says:

    I have nothing to say about Beyonce and her new song that metaphor is beautiful and is relatable to any child that may or may not have grown up in fear of the police and this shows the change. Beyonce however did not have a great performance at the short bowl she was over stayed by Bruno Mars and she almost fell. Her back up dancers were for real on point though and I’m not hating it n Beyonce or black people I just think that was the worst I’ve ever seen her perform because she does usually have such a great performance record

  36. Troy McMeans says:

    If you don’t like the way White artists/film/news/media portray black people, work on changing the impact of black people in White lives, not on telling White people they’re wrong about their own lives.

  37. David Lord says:

    An interesting take. I was struck by the line “Black people were living in a culture where their pain, their culture, and their art were appropriated.” And of course, this is true.

    In this video, Beyonce appropriates the deaths of the Katrina flood, even though she was nowhere near it. I was. My friends died in it. 1500 people, black AND white, died in it.
    Yet here she is, showing herself drowning and singing about being the next Bill Gates.
    Nice.

    She also used the voice of New Orleans own Bounce Queen, Big Freida, without giving ONE NOTE OF CREDIT. Who’s “appropriating” black culture now?

    While I find the meaning you’ve attached to it be long over due, I’m not really sure it’s there, except in your heart.
    Thanks for that. Really. It’s important.
    But I think Beyonce is thinking more of her own career, or she would have credited one of New Orleans most popular black artists, who is long deserving of recognition.

  38. Farina says:

    If only more white people got it like this. Brilliantly put – so clear, so thoughtful.

  39. Shirl P says:

    My personal dislike for Beyonce’s super bowl performance has nothing to do with her being black, white, or green. I thought the costumes and “ghetto bootie” dance moves were low class and sleazy. They were highly inappropriate for this venue because of the number of children that watch the super bowl during prime time. Certainly at this stage of Beyonce’s career and with her talent, she is capable of delivering a more stellar performance than one on the same level of Miley Cyrus.

  40. Josh cranmer says:

    All this ranting and raving and generalizing a whole group of people is only setting us back as a society. It is fine to have these topics, but the rage filled rants and comments only fuel hate that is being spread. Let’s work together to make the world a better place; we are not our ancestors and we can be better. Grouping an entire race is ignorant by saying “black people” this and “white people” that. Any progress that has been made as unified human beings always seems to be set back by ignorant trolls the Internet gives outreach power to. We should not be judged by our ancestors actions and let the minority of ignorant people bring us down. Let’s not forget the past, but change and focus on working together for our future and our children’s future.

  41. gwangung says:

    I’d ask the DJ to put up James Brown, “IM BLACK AND I’M PROUD”, but I’m afraid some people would die from butthurt.

  42. As someone who doesn’t believe the sun rises and sets in Beyonce’s backside I simply wonder why, as a popular entertainer in the United States, she should be protected, or maybe more importantly needs your diatribe, to insulate her from artistic criticism? Art is subjective and not everybody is going to like everything. I personally don’t care for her music or style, and find her to be incredibly arrogant. Does that make me a racist or bigot? If I made the same comments about Madonna or Miley Cirus would I be judged bigot or racist? I find most so called Black allies to be sycophants and guilty of an emotional appropriation; lacking their own generational wounds from cultural oppression and mistreatment, they feed of that which is rightfully Black generational trauma.

  43. Thank you for writing this. Your voice is heard in San Francisco. Would love to collaborate on a piece with you. Find Atlas Vocal Studio and contact me.

    -J.Atlas

  44. Julie Love says:

    Am I right seeing a picture with the finger being raised towards others? I am bewildered as to why this is used to promote peace, equality, justice, love, pride, strength and any and all qualities of excellence.

  45. Katie says:

    Do we have to shut up if we love it? Cuz I can’t get enough of the video, nor of Beyonce, and I can’t quit talking about any of it. O_O

  46. CJ says:

    I am multi-racial and I love the Formation video. The points in your post are well taken, but the approach is a bit racially isolating. There are a lot of people of various races teaching about racial equality. There are people who are underprivileged in ways unrelated to race. Racial, gender and other kinds of equality will not get far if everyone can’t be involved. Therefore I think it is a disservice to racial equality for Black people if it is addressed only to White people. Even some of the Black community could benefit from learning more about racial equality. I believe the most effective message would be to address everyone. Other than that, I agree with your points.

  47. Kenneth LeSure says:

    Oh dear,
    I hope SOMEONE is paying attention……KUDOS

  48. Angie says:

    I couldn’t even finish reading this article. I really hate the argument about slavery. I ABSOLUTELY HATE it. Do we not forget that those slaves were often purchased from other tribes? You don’t care cause I’m white, right? Well let me tell you something, you hate me for something I have never done, and the vast majority of people In The United States have never done. Let me explain it to you. My mothers side of the family came from Poland during World War II. My great grandmother Aniela was born here in 1902. Her parents had not been here long, before they had her. Her husband, my great grandfather, literally escaped from Poland while Hitler was invading. His parents paid people to sneak him out wedged in a wagon underneath pigs. My father’s grandparents (my great grandparents ) came from Canada. So what I am trying to say is, that just because I am white doesn’t mean my ancestors had slaves. I deserve no disrespect, I have ancestors that were a part of the Polish underground and were murdered on their front lawn.
    I respect people, all people, for who they are. I respect people for who they are now, who they are to me. Give respect to get it, I am not saying because my family suffered means your ancestors did not, but what I am saying is I think ALL of our ancestors suffered, we have it much better than they could have ever imagined, let’s make it even better for them, and for our children. Let’s work together and empower one another, and as Ellen would say, “be kind to one another.”

  49. Chantal says:

    It is a beautiful thing to have a powerful black women like Beyonce, telling black history and purposely targeting and empowering black people, without having to feel obligated to appease “white people”. You go girl! And anyone who wants to empower and be a positive influence on others, and tell an honest story when it’s not always easy to do so. All the power to you. I back you 100%. We need more people sending a positive message and taking care of things that matter to them. What we don’t need is this next generation, hateful rethoric that promotes an “eye for an eye” mentality. I think it’s wonderful what Beyonce has portrayed as an artist. I think that this article condemning “white people”..and not the isolated population of PEOPLE -who have nothing more important to worry about than what message Beyonce is sending in her videos-is sad and dangerous to solving the problem that is racism. Black, black, white, purple or yellow. Encouraging art and talent and knowledge of your history is beautiful, promoting negativity towards any group is pathetic.

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