BY TRONE DOWD
Since going solo in 2003, Beyonce Knowles has managed to reach the kind of mainstream popularity and fame that other celebrities can only dream of. Very few can sell out coliseums and stadiums in minutes with tickets at a steep $1,300 a seat. Very few can stop the world with a surprise album and break the Internet by releasing their latest music video. She has become the closest thing to an icon in the music industry since Michael Jackson, breaking down all racial, age and gender barriers. She holds the kind of influence across all entertainment that almost everyone can agree is nothing short of incredible.
But her most recent accolade? Stirring nationwide outrage after her unapologetically pro-black return to the public eye.
Beyonce has received much criticism in the past from the black community for being somewhat light on words when it came to addressing issues plaguing African-Americans in recent years. While she has occasionally showed her support to the Black Lives Matter movement, it has always been subliminal in nature, letting any potentially controversial stances take a backseat.
So imagine the world’s surprise when she released her new song “Formation” along with a new music video last week. The video was complete with blatant “black excellence” imagery and a progressively blunt “black is beautiful” message. With her verbal love for natural hair, a call to never forget the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and her “hands up, don’t shoot” inspired choreography, it seemed that the days of subdued support for her people were over, much to the relief of fans and the black community.
Or so you would think.
Knowles received criticisms from both sides of the fence. Some believed that her video was anti-police as the video depicts the R&B singer sitting on top of a cop car and the camera pans over graffiti that reads “stop shooting us,” a very real plea that countless black men and women have made when hearing news of yet another black life being taken by law enforcement.
Many in the black community came out to bash the pop-icon, questioning whether her sudden interest in “black affairs” was just another trend for her to latch onto, despite her history of creating rather than bandwagoning.
It, of course, all came to a head during the Super Bowl when Beyonce performed her new single alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars. Beyonce, back up dancers in tow, all fashioned Black Panther inspired uniforms, and natural hair. The combination of wearing Black Panther gear while telling young minority girls and boys they can “be the next Bill Gates in the making” was too much for America to stomach. Backlash quickly ensued.
At the time of this writing, some have already called people to boycott Beyonce’s upcoming concerts at Citi Field currently scheduled for June. There are also scheduled protests in front of the NFL headquarters denouncing the performer and her new artistic direction.
It is noteworthy that someone with as much clout as Beyonce is pointing out the same issues so many have been declaring for years now. That being said, what was really so offensive about her recent song, which has since been labeled as “controversial,” “politically charged” and “anti-police?” A cursory listen will prove that the song is only about uplifting the black community, reinforcing the same ideals the American dream is supposed to promise all of us, but in actuality is only promised to a select few.
When will people understand that pro-black is not anti-white? Why is it that when Beyonce decides to declare her black pride that America in unison wants to turn their backs on the women they’ve been quoting and impersonating for more than a decade now?
We shouldn’t have to defend showing pride in where we come from. A black individual should be allowed to show pride in their heritage, the same way an immigrant should be allowed show pride in their country of origin, the same we should all be allowed to show pride in being an American. This pride should be allowed, free of criticism and backlash from others.
Unfortunately, there are those who don’t want us to live in that world. It is because Beyonce decided to be proud of who she is and where she came from, showing love to her people and inspiring them to love themselves, that Americans are turning their back on her.
Reach Trone Dowd at (718) 357-7400 x123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @theloniusly.