I don’t know much about hair. I’ve been shaving my head since I was 17 and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. The only hair care I experience is whatever I do to take care of my beard, which includes shampoo and conditioner. Other than that, I have no idea. Ask my girlfriend, she’ll agree that when she starts talking about hair things, my eyes kinda glaze over. I do remember my mom cutting her hair when I was in 4th grade. She had a style, straight, shoulder-length cut one day and the next, she had cut it down to a half inch and gone natural. I remember the surprise that washed over my initial reaction as I saw my mom rock what I have affectionately called the Half-fro for as long as I can imagine it. I learned later (from her conversations) that it was much easier to deal with a natural style on a regular basis than going to get it styled.
This was my introduction into the world of hair when it came to black culture. And as I watched Beyoncé’s Formation video, this was the first thing that popped in my mind. The natural look has been seen as unprofessional, and more clown-like than anything else, yet throughout this song Beyoncé, celebrates a feature of black culture that is usually hidden.
As I watched the music video, I felt several emotions. First, there was immediate confusion. This, simply put was caused by her standing on a police car. Already, a theme was present. While many sources, such as Constitution Rising have said this theme was a “flagrant anti-white, anti-cop racist perpetuation.” However, I saw a different theme. I saw one of overcoming, one of power. Beyonce stood on top of the cop car, not in front of it or in it. This theme ebbed out of the next 4:50 of a rhythmic, lyrical and political stance of overcoming.
As we know already, Beyoncé is one of the most successful and influential musical artists of this generation. She is also a proud African-American woman, one who has not forgotten who she is or where she is from. And she is from the dirty south. She is a product of generations of pain and suffering, just as many of the kids who call the south are. And she is proud.
She is proud because many of us are not. When we look at majority culture, sometimes as POC, we feel overwhelmed and ignored. A lot of people of the Black Culture feel like the majority of what we have is taken from us and claimed for others (hip-hop, soul, blues, etc.) And while many have shown hatred to Beyoncé’s gifts, I applaud her. I applaud her for not forgetting her roots, not forgetting her heritage. And yes, while not all of her facts were right, (Furgeson’s “Hand’s Up, Don’t Shoot), her charge was. She didn’t ignore the bodies of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, or any of the hundreds killed last year in police brutality. She didn’t forget the roots of her music, knowing that past generations paved a way for people like her to stand proudly. And so she now stands, with hot sauce in her bag, showing her natural afro and her Michael Jackson costume, with her dancers in their black-panther berets, forming an X in remembrance of Malcolm X, all in front of 111.9 Million viewers.
Because this is Black History Month. This is a time of celebration for the African-American culture. This is a time to remember, to reflect. We look back to the lives lost to our painful history just so people like Beyoncé can even be allowed in the stadium. So, she took advantage of a moment. Beyonce stood proudly for all of those who died doing so. In this moment, we saw a minority culture become the majority culture displayed in America.
Terrifying, wasn’t it?
No one knew how to react as she stood and sang proudly a new anthem to the Black female, so they called racism. Was racism the objective of the song? In my opinion, I’d say no. I’d say there definitely was racial tension, as displayed in the line “I twirl on them haters, albino alligators.” But this line was nothing more than a splash on the backdrop for the rest of this song. I wouldn’t call the song great, but I would call it lyrically charging. It was a call to remind those of color that, yes, you are beautiful too.
To those of color (and those not), do not forget that. Our cultures are beautiful, every single one of them. Each one is different, and each one is powerful. Even in this powerful song, do not put us above anyone else, including white culture.
To my Christian brothers and sisters, let me remind you that as you trample over each other in the crusade of the “racism” of Beyoncé, do not forget Coldplay’s “Love Win’s” LGBT moment, which was just as big (literally bigger) as Beyoncé’s performance. We wouldn’t want to seem as if we are showing partiality to sin, would we? And we most certainly wouldn’t want to single out the black performer for a political performance when another occurred within the same hour. That would be being racist to call out racism, which doesn’t solve anything, and actually makes us hypocrites.