This past Super Bowl weekend, amidst the crowning of the Denver Broncos as Super Bowl Champions, and Von Miller (my homeboy from DeSoto, Tx who went to my high school, DeSoto “U” … ok, I am sorry; I digress) as MVP, there was another significant moment taking place last weekend. On the Saturday before the Super Bowl, Beyonce dropped a video, “Formation,” with an obvious ode to her black people, black Love and Black justice. In one video, she remembered Hurricane Katrina, embraced her black roots and black aesthetic features, and fell in line with the Black Lives Matter movement through the image of a young black boy in a hoodie dancing in the midst of a line of white police officers with graffiti in the background saying “stop shooting us.” Sunday, Beyonce followed up the formation video, with a Super Bowl halftime performance where she dressed in all Black and had all female dancers dressed like Black Panthers in the same “X” formation as parts of her video.
Of course, Beyonce has received tons of criticism for making her performance a political act, and for paying homage to the Black Panther Party. Of course, this criticism is filled with the hypocrisy that has assailed Black people and Black Love throughout history in America. Every major sporting event in America begins as a political act. What do you think is happening when the Star Spangled Banner is sung? When people are asked to stand up, take off their hats and helmets, and put their hands over their hearts while the National Anthem is sung, this is political. When military jets fly over the stadium and military men and women are peppered on the field throughout the pregame, this is political. Yet, few have ever expressed issue with these political acts. Yet, Beyonce celebrates a Black Panther Party which was formed to combat this country as it’s ugliest, most unjust, and most unfair and now we would rather not be political. Beyonce’s performance essentially asserted, “If we can celebrate the country before the game, we can celebrate people who have confronted this country and pushed it to be better in the middle of the game.”
Of course, for some it was not necessarily the political act, but rather the political people (i.e. The Black Panther Party) and their stance that violence was a legitimate and necessary means to gain justice for Black people. I am amazed at how “Americans” can selectively support and oppose violence. When America wanted freedom from British rule, they used violence. I don’t see these critics boycotting The Fourth of July. When America colonized and expanded “American” territory from sea to shining sea, they used violence to kill and displace Native Americans. America grew as a world power largely on the backs of a free labor economic system called slavery. Need I remind us that slavery was barbarically violent? Nevertheless, when a group organizes to protect blacks who are unjustly treated physically, psychologically, culturally, economically, legally, and politically, they are somehow wrong. When a Black Panther Party appeals to the same violence that formed and built this country they are out of line. This Black Panther hate and this latest round of criticism of Beyonce simply lays bare the historical ignorance and racism (external and internal) of a people in a country that has violently climbed its way to the top and yet reserves the right of violence to the American Empire. Even if America’s actual and historical violence exponentially exceeds a Black Panther Party who’s commitment to violence was far more philosophical than actual, critics would still turn a blind eye to American history and try to poke out the eye of anyone who would appreciate people standing up for Black people.
So I want to pause and tell Beyonce, “Thank You!” I know that her latest move does not have the critical depths and substance to make a comprehensive revolution for the underserved and unjustly treated in America. I know Beyonce is still largely immersed in capitalism, consumerism, and materialism. However, in the world of Black preachers that I am a part of, where so many preachers are refusing to vocally and/or visibly stand up for black justice, black people, and black Love, I am glad somebody is Loving black people enough to parade our struggle in front of the masses. So, I want to say “Thank You!” to Beyonce for taking the risk to Love Black people politically and publically. Maybe, now that Beyonce has made a video she might free some black pulpits to declare, “Black Lives Matter!”
Humbly in Christ’s Love,