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I immediately fell in love with the song and the video upon the first listen, especially after hearing Beyoncé chant: “I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils” filled me with overflowing pride. In that moment, I was able to genuinely love my prominent nose, so for that Beyoncé, I thank you. Additionally, she, along with her team of dancers sported natural hair styles to celebrate African textured hair to remind the world that she is indeed a proud black woman.
I find that people tend to view Beyoncé as a notable figure that transcends race, this may be due to the fact that she is able to appeal and relate to people on a global scale. The problem with this is that her race along with her ethnic background become erased and it therefore creates a conflict whenever racial matters arise, as we expect her to speak up. Most artists are afraid to speak out at times as they fear that they have too much to lose and therefore resort to silence.
I don’t believe that this was the case for Beyoncé, I personally think that she wasn’t oblivious to these issues, I think she chose not to say much about it due to fearing that the media and the general public would misinterpret her statements, which, is understandable. Having said that, I do find that Beyoncé expresses herself best through her art and she has clearly shown us that through the visual content in ‘Formation’. In the music video she proudly embraces both her African-American and Louisiana Creole heritage to affirm the fact that she is grounded in who she is and uses her platform to uplift her people, especially at a time where they need it most.
What bothers me most is that the video received backlash for all the wrong reasons. Many white people felt that the song and the music video had racist undertones and also felt that the video was very anti-police. There were scenes in the video that were extremely powerful, such as the scene where a little black kid is dancing before a group of police officers, beside a wall that read: “Stop Shooting Us“. Now my take on it is this: if that message bothers you then you my friend, are a part of the problem; the fact that you find it problematic that Black people are demanding that cops stop shooting them for simply being BLACK, goes to show that you agree with police officers shooting down innocent, unarmed Black people.
Beyoncé has created a song to uplift her people in a world that continues to tell them that they’re not good enough or that their lives don’t matter as much as their white counterparts, or at all. One thing I feel that I must stress and make clear is that, PRO-BLACK is NOT synonymous with ANTI-WHITE. That’s like if straight people were to attend a gay pride event and feel threatened by the fact that Gay people are celebrating their sexuality. The point that I’m making here is that there’s nothing threatening or ‘racist’ in celebrating yourself in a world that has taught you, from birth, to hate yourself.
With that being said, I’d like to thank Celestine-Ann “Tina” Beyincé and Mathew Knowles for creating such a beautiful, multi-talented black woman who continues to be a positive influence for black girls and women across the diaspora. I and my Jackson 5 nostrils thank you.