Beyoncé’s Bully Pulpit for Black Lives Matter: The Super Bowl


February 8, 2016; Washington Post

Beyoncé’s performance of her new song, “Formation,” at halftime at this year’s Super Bowl is hardly the first time that a football stadium has been the stage for a statement about police violence against the black community, but former New York City mayor and 2008 presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani was simply outraged—or so he would have you believe. He called it an “attack” on police officers and called for a return to “decent, wholesome entertainment.”

“This is football, not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers, who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive,” he said during an appearance on the Fox News Channel. “And what we should be doing in the African American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers. And focus on the fact that when something does go wrong, okay. We’ll work on that. But the vast majority of police officers risk their lives to keep us safe.”

Fox News anchor Anna Kooiman gave him the setup: “Beyoncé got a police escort there and then she gives a salute to the Black Lives Matter movement. […] It was a nod to the 1966 founding of the Black Panther Party. What did you think of that?”

Well, we think the two things can and should coexist just fine. That’s the point. A few days before the game, Beyoncé released a video for the song that shows her at one point atop a sinking police car in New Orleans. During the game’s halftime show, she raised her fist in the air, recalling not only Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics but also the five players of the St. Louis Rams who stood in a “hands up, don’t shoot” pose before their game on November 30th, 2014 after the refusal to indict in Michael Brown’s shooting. There, too, some were outraged at the act. The St. Louis Police Officers Association demanded that the players be punished.

In Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! interview of Dave Zirin, a sportswriter, he calls us all to the historical and social significance of this particular performance:

First of all, this is Super Bowl 50. It was in the Bay Area. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in the Bay Area. And that’s what Beyoncé and her background singers—background dancers were paying tribute to. And the song “Formation” is—and people should watch the video. There are more indelible images in the five minutes of this video than any Hollywood film I’ve seen in memory. And I really want to encourage people to go to the blog, New [South] Negress, and read a breakdown of the video by Zandria—that’s the author’s name—because, honestly, for me, as a white guy who’s from the North, I was only getting like 5 percent of what Beyoncé was trying to say. This is a video that’s rooted in Southern black experience, and it’s not only about the Black Lives Matter movement, it is about hundreds of years of black women resisting state violence with a centered approach that’s about mothers protecting their children and also about queer black women stepping up to be able to say, “We are here. We matter, too.” It’s radically audacious in terms of its visuals, in terms of its lyrics. And I’m frankly stunned that we have—that this country, that could serve sausages with gold flakes while people starve in the streets, can also be a country that could produce an artist as audaciously brilliant as Beyoncé and generate that kind of mass following and have her perform this song in an X formation at halftime of the Super Bowl. It’s remarkable.

Zandria’s piece at New South Negress is breathtaking in itself:

Formation is a different kind of resistance practice, one rooted in the epistemology of (and sometimes only visible/detectable to) folks on the margins of blackness. The political scientist Cathy Cohen talks about activism at these margins, the kind of deviance-as-resistance built and cultivated at the margins of respectable blackness. Formation, then, is a metaphor, a black feminist, black queer, and black queer feminist theory of community organizing and resistance. It is a recognition of one another at the blackness margins—woman, queer, genderqueer, trans, poor, disabled, undocumented, immigrant—before an overt action. For the black southern majorettes, across gender formulations, formation is the alignment, the stillness, the readying, the quiet, before the twerk, the turn-up, the (social) movement. To be successful, there must be coordination, the kind that choreographers and movement leaders do.

It has long been rumored that Beyoncé and Jay-Z have provided funding for Black Lives Matter, but this rumor has been put to rest—as a rumor, anyway—as the couple’s music streaming company, Tidal, announced gifts in the amount of $1.5 million through the New World Foundation to Black Lives Matter and other groups, including the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Oscar Grant Foundation, Hands Up United, and Dream Defenders. The money was reportedly raised in conjunction with Roc Nation at an October 2015 charity concert in Brooklyn. The artists performing at the event included Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Alessia Cara. Tidal had earlier released “Chains,” played over a video showing the faces of victims of police violence, so all of this cannot be that much of a surprise.

Dania Diaz, managing director of philanthropy at Roc Nation, described how grantees were chosen. “The process of acquiring recommendations [for nonprofits] was collaborative and inspired by the message that speaks to racial and social inequities and injustice in our society,” Diaz said. “Each year we will support a different initiative. Our ideology is to have a hi-fi level of consciousness in everything we do.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Media reports, *”The show is being celebrated by Black Lives Matters and “pro-black power” voices, including Michelle Obama, who gave a pre-game interview telling Beyonce she had her full support and would even dress for the event.”*

    Dear Mrs. Michelle Obama, aka America’s Premier Maternal & Parental Figure.

    It appears we are Americans embracing much different values as well as a differing sense of respect and concern for our neighbors.

    Mrs. Obama, Beyonce married an admitted Brooklyn, NY drug peddler who raps about gun violence he embraced to enforce and protect his ‘people and community’ harming Gangsta and drug peddling lifestyle. A lifestyle that emotionally and physically harmed or took the lives of Shawn Carter’s peaceful African American neighbors.

    As far as I know neither Shawn or Beyonce have ever denounced the Gangsta or Street Culture lifestyle primarily embraced and perpetuated by emotionally abused and neglected children maturing into depressed, angry, frustrated, sometimes suicidal (NY Times May 18, 2015 – Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers) teens and adults much like your husband’s new friend, Childhood Trauma victim Kendrick Lamar.

    In his 2015 Grammy award winning Rap Performance titled “I”, Kendrick Lamar writes, “I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.”

    In paragraph eight of a January 20, 2011 LAWeekly interview published online Kendrick, born in 1987, told the interviewer:

    *”Lamar’s parents moved from Chicago to Compton in 1984 with all of $500 in their pockets. “My mom’s one of 13 [THIRTEEN] siblings, and they all got SIX kids, and till I was 13 everybody was in Compton,” he says.”*

    *”I’m 6 years old, seein’ my uncles playing with shotguns, sellin’ dope in front of the apartment.”*

    *”My moms and pops never said nothing, ’cause they were young and living wild, too. I got about 15 stories like ‘Average Joe.'”*

    Mrs. Obama, Kendrick speaks about experiencing Childhood Trauma, witnessing MASS CHILD ABUSE & MALTREATMENT, violent felon family & community members who intentionally & recklessly ignored the well being of their children, depriving these kids from having a home environment where they feel safe, loved & cared for.

    In school little Kendrick & his Elementary School classmates are being taught to be good citizens & to respect their neighbors.

    While at home, under duress of being harmed if they open their lil mouths, families & communities are teaching their children anti-social ‘people and community’ harming values that often results with kids experiencing during a critical period of their childhood development a mentally debilitating condition known as Cognitive Dissonance.

    Mrs. Obama, in this one paragraph, it seems evident to me Kendrick identified the source of his depression, the roots of poverty, the child abuse/maltreatment that prevented him, his brothers, sisters, cousins, neighborhood friends, elementary & JHS classmates from enjoying a safe, fairly happy childhood.

    No small wonder why Kendrick raps & speaks about childhood & adult depression, as well as experiencing suicidal thoughts.

    Kendrick Lamar Talks About ‘u,’ His Depression & Suicidal Thoughts (Pt. 2) | MTV Video News April 2015

    Mrs. Obama, the anti-social “people & community” harming violent felon lifestyle SIX-YEAR-OLD Kendrick was forced to experience is no different from the lifestyle currently embraced & being promoted by Beyonce’s husband for THEIR personal profit and fame.

    Mrs. Obama, Beyonce and her husband offer American people and our foreign neighbors music performances demeaning and hating-on the MATERNAL HALF of our population, characterizing our moms, sisters, grandmas, daughters, aunts & nieces as less than human ^itches and ^hores unworthy of respect.

    Mrs. Obama, with all due respect…how the heck do you reconcile promoting love & respect for a woman married to an emotionally damaged man who today continues promoting a anti-social lifestyle that for decades has caused so much emotional & physical pain (or worse) for our peaceful American neighbors of African descent?

    Mrs. Obama, in her art performances Beyonce refers to females as ^itches and ^hores Have you ever stopped to consider why for more than three decades a significant number of locally, nationally and internationally popular African American recording artists view women with contempt?

    I am not referring to Beyonce because she’s just jumping on the bandwagon.

    I’m talking about recording artists like Kendrick, Tupac, Dwayne Lil Wayne Carter, Curtis 50 Cent Jackson, people like Freddie Gray or Michael Singleton, all depressed angry people full of resentment for being introduced to a childhood of pain & struggle by immature moms who WILLFULLY IGNORED their parental responsibility to their children, as well as their moral, ethical and societal obligation & duty to their neighbors and community to place the emotional well being of their children ABOVE ALL ELSE!!

    Mrs. Obama, I am sad you & hubby admire Americans embracing and profiting from promoting anti-social lifestyles.

    Apparently we embrace different values.

    Doctors Ross and Dietz offer insights into how our Early Childhood Development plays a key role in determining the type of individual we mature into.

    Robert K. Ross, MD, President and CEO of The California Endowment, addressed inmates at Ironwood State Prison offering a compelling overview of the role that exposure to childhood trauma plays in the lives of *emotionally troubled* and chronically ill American teens and adults.

    At 2:12:25 in this documentary about Mafia hitman and victim of Early Childhood Trauma/Abuse, Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski, Dr. Park Dietz explains why young Richard most likely developed into a emotionally disturbed, paranoid, cruel, heartless teen and man who did not give a frig about anyone else, including his wife and kids.
    *(NY Times May 18, 2015 – Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers)*

    Black *(Children’s)* Lives Matter; Take Pride In Parenting; *End Our National Epidemic of Child Abuse and Neglect*; End Community Violence, Police Fear & Educator’s Frustrations