WRITTEN BY: IZZY UKNIS
It’s been one week since the 50th Super Bowl aired on TV, and people are still talking about Beyonce’s controversial halftime show performance of her newest song “Formation.”
Beyonce and her backup dancers performed alongside each other, wearing costumes that are believed to symbolize what the Black Panthers wore. They also formed an “X” during the show, which, according to TheGuardian.com, was an allusion to Malcolm X. This was controversial for some viewers because, according to marxists.org, the Black Panthers were known for attempting to militantly achieve ethnic minority and working class emancipation. This means that they would sometimes resort to violence to unite against the oppression that minorities were facing.
The costumes alone were not enough to spark conversation, though. According to FoxNews.com, one of the dancers held up a sign that said “Justice 4 Mario Woods,” which was allegedly unscripted.
Mario Woods was a black male who, according to CNN.com, was shot more than 20 times by San Francisco police, after refusing to drop a knife. Though police say that they feared “serious injury or death,” due to him being a suspect for a stabbing, the argument on behalf of protesters seems to be that a non-lethal weapon could have been used to stop him, rather than twenty-plus gunshots.
According to FoxNews.com, one urban youth Minister Patrick D. Hampton, did not enjoy Beyonce’s form of protest. In an interview with Fox, he said that he would like for celebrities to address “thug brutality,” rather than just police brutality, and that he is “tired of BlackLivesMatter…tired of the New Black Panthers.”
The former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, shared the same opinion when he announced on Fox & Friends that it was outrageous that she used the Super Bowl as a platform to attack police.
However, according to US Weekly, Kelly Rowland- Beyonce’s friend and former bandmate- defended Beyonce’s freedom to speak out, and said that her performance had come from a peaceful place, rather than a violent one.
LL Cool J, a rapper and the most recent Grammy host, also applauded Beyonce. In an interview with theWrap.com, he explained that Formation is a song to showcase issues like police brutality, and to represent her Southern Black heritage. He added that “if you don’t raise the issue, you can never bridge it– music can bring change or bring the possibility of change through dialogue.”
One Temple student, Rachel O’Brien, agrees to a certain degree. She said that she liked the performance, but she didn’t know enough about the Black Panthers prior to the show, to understand how controversial it would all end up being.
The performance really is up for interpretation. Some see it as a performance protesting police officers, and siding with violent protest. Some see it as a performance to bring about awareness that there is still a large presence of racism in a society that claims to be founded on equality and progress.
Regardless of whether one believes that she was within her rights to display all of this at the Super Bowl, it is indicative that our society has a way to go before everyone truly feels like they have been accepted and treated equally.