An Ode to Activist Movements Can Bring About Change
By Claritza Quezada
“Okay Ladies, now let’s get in formation. Prove to me you’ve got some coordination.”
If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard Beyoncé’s song Formation that was released only a day before the Super Bowl and then performed during halftime with over 114.4 million views.
While the beat and lyrics that are extremely catchy and will have you singing for days, Beyoncé has been able to conquer the masses by delivering a song that is full of political awareness and delivers that message unapologetically.
The video displays Beyoncé in a number of scenes that advocate her “blackness” to the world. She affrims this with lyrics such as “I love my baby hair with baby hair and afros” and “I love my Negro nose and Jackson Five nostrils.”
Beyoncé is able to tap into the average black person’s thought process and their inner struggle with their surrounding society. Her ability to counterpart her seriousness with humor by unmercifully stating that she has “hot sauce in my bag” and has made the song an anthem to all black and brown women in America.
However, not all of the images are pretty. There are moments throughout the video that are very intense and do hit close to home for many of us. Being set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Beyoncé delves into the societal problems that blacks in communities around the United States are facing on a daily basis.
The most striking one would be considered a young black boy break-dancing in front of dozens of cops. When he is done “getting light” the cops put their hands up and surrender. The camera then quickly shows a wall that says, “Stop Shooting Us.” This small snippet is a response to the #BlackLivesMatter community and one more cry to stop the rampant police brutality towards young black men.
The video ends with Beyoncé still atop the police car, except this time the car has drowned and Beyoncé goes down with it. Beyoncé has declared that the community must get into “formation” and bring about changes.
This is extremely significant in light of current events surrounding African Americans in the media. Recently with events such as the Oscars not nominating any black actors and the decision of many black artists to step aside and boycott the event.
The video itself was released on what would’ve been Trayvon Martin’s birthday and one day before what would’ve been Sandra Bland’s 29th birthday.
Both of these cases were crucial in the “Black Lives Matter” movement and sparked young activists to stand up for their rights and question what really happened during those situations and what actions should be taken from letting them happen in the future.
“Formation” has also fueled discussion on the Black Panthers and other historic African American activist groups due to the choice of outfits worn during the halftime performance.
Beyoncé and her backup dancers wore a getup of leather jackets and berets paying homage to both Michael Jackson’s 1993 performance and the Black Panthers.
The Black Panthers were a revolutionary socialist group of African Americans that fought for justice and believed in the right to bear arms. Their leader Huey Newton was shot and killed in 1989. The group turns 50 in October.
As soon as this was seen on national television, Twitter blew up with people commenting about the triumphs and the history of the black power movement.
Viewers that had not heard of the Black Panthers informed themselves more and the #BlackPanthers hashtag on Twitter started trending. #Formation was another leading hashtag that week leading to more discussion about black power.
Beyoncé and Jay Z have also made monetary donations to Black Lives Matter through Jay Z’s music streaming application Tidal. On February 5th, they announced that their proceeds from their Tidal X event would go towards nonprofits that support the cause.
Although many artists have made contributions, sometimes they are not known and don’t garner so much conversation. However, music is very alive. It is a constant reminder that we must all move forward in order to receive what we deserve.