“Formation” a powerful testament to the beauty of black culture

Knowles’ new song sends a powerful message


Bri Branscomb

In the music video for Formation, Beyonce often honors her mother’s Louisiana roots. For one scene, she and her dancers dressed in Mardi Gras style clothing, a very important cultural holiday in New Orleans.

by Bri Branscomb, Staff Writer

For the second time in her career, Beyonce dropped a new surprise single and music video titled ‘Formation.’ The video showcases Louisiana black culture, taking the viewer through post-Katrina New Orleans, into a jubilant black church, an ever-familiar weave shop, and scenes of a black boy dancing in front of a line of police officers. With lyrics like “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making”, and “Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation,” Beyonce establishes herself as a successful black woman, and calls for other black women to unite and show their power. She also performed a part of the song at the Super Bowl halftime show, her dancers dressed in berets and leather military like outfits to honor the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panthers. It is a song that celebrates the beauty and importance of black culture and history, yet many have taken offense to it. There have been calls to boycott Beyonce, many calling her anti-police, anti-white, and pro-black-on-white-violence.

As a young black woman, I am immensely grateful to Beyonce for bringing both the beauty and the complexity of black culture to light. I am grateful to her for her recognizing her roots, and giving a voice to those who oftentimes feel like they don’t have one. I am grateful for lyrics saying “I love my negro nose” “I like my baby hair and afros”. I am grateful for the featuring of natural hair, of a variety of skin tones and lyrics that showed nothing but unabashed self love. I was proud to be black after watching that video. Pride is oftentimes something hard to come by when you are black and living in the south, when your skin and your nose and your hair and your heritage are being attacked from every angle.

The most important thing about Formation is it’s message. Beyonce has created a song that uplifts and puts the black community in a positive light, something that is not common in today’s media. She has created an anthem for black women who have worked hard to overcome stereotypes and stigmas to become successful individuals. The video celebrates the layers and diversity of a culture that is often belittled and frowned up and classified as ‘ghetto’. This video is about taking pride in who you are, and where you came from. By saying things like “Made all this money but they’ll never take the country out me”,  Beyonce is sending the message that she is not ashamed of who she is, and that is why the black community is backing her up so fully. It is showing the rest of the world what it means to be black.

The negative reaction to Beyonce’s video, song, and performance shows how uncomfortable people have become when black pride and problems are talked about openly and honestly. It is something that needs to be talked about.  In the past year alone, more than 100 unarmed black individuals were killed  by police officers. One quick google search of ‘racial bias studies’ brings forth article after article saying the same thing: there is still an overwhelming racism towards minority races and the cultures associated with them in America. These things cannot be seen as acceptable. These conversations about race and the issues surrounding it need to be had, and heard.

Beyonce, like so many other performers, is using her platform and her influence to bring these racial problems to light. When her video showed a wall that said ‘Stop shooting us’, it was not anti-police. It was anti-murder. She recognized the pain and frustration and helplessness that the black community feels every time one of our own is killed and receives no justice. Black problems cannot be ignored anymore. They need recognition. They need to be talked about, and debated, and analyzed, and listened to, and together, we need to fix them.