Saturday, February 20, 2016

What I Think About Beyoncé's Formation

I published the most polarizing thinkjoust in history this past Tuesday. After reading all of your comments, I came to several conclusions.

I have watched that video several times, and I cannot see how the video promotes violence against police officers. I don't think the police officers in the video even serve as antagonists.

Let's look at the controversial police officer scene, shot by shot.

We have our hooded black dancer busting some moves.

We see him from behind the cops' perspective.

They stand in a line.

The dancer throws up his arms, as if to say, "What now?"

The cops raise their own arms, notably lifting no weapons.

Notice how both the dancer and the cops have their arms up. This scene actually suggests a level of camaraderie between all participants.

The camera pans over some graffiti.

If anything, I feel like this scene was anti-police brutality, not anti-police. The camera angles and the imagery gives me the feeling that Beyoncé was trying to promote healthier relationships between police officers and black people who feel oppressed.

So what does this teach us?

In the end, I, too, admire the messages Beyoncé is delivering. The scene with the police officers is but a small portion of the complete music video. Most of the lyrics serve to remind black people about some of the issues and controversies surrounding their fight for civil equality. Among others, Beyoncé challenges the assertions of many who claim that black people are less attractive than other races. She challenges anyone who blindly accepts the history of black oppression. She invites all of her black peers to rise and stand with her, producing the eponymous 'Formation.'

None of these things are bad. After all, don't most people desire racial equality and understanding? As it is, I don't understand how these messages are offensive. Either way, this whole 'controversy' raises some good points.

We, as a nation, draw boundary lines. If someone takes a stand on any issue, someone else is going to perceive them as an enemy. Beyoncé's music video was a case in point. 

"What? She's pro-black?" some people seemed to say. "And she has portrayals of white police officers in her music video? Obviously, she's anti-police! Even worse, she's advocating violence against the police! Beyoncé is a monster!"


Because people can't see beyond the boundary lines, hatred and ignorance fester in our society. Just because I'm Christian doesn't mean I'm anti-Gay. I would go so far to say that I'm not anti-anything. But many people assume, because of my differing beliefs and lifestyle, that I am their enemy. 

The only way for our society to gain true equality is when we are able to listen to and accept the various viewpoints of every single individual. We may not agree with everything everyone says. At the very least, we can accept the fact that if our individual perspective is true to us, then true are the individual perspectives of everyone else to themselves.

So, yes. Beyoncé is proud of her heritage, but I am also proud of my own heritage. That righteous pride deserves to be praised, not maligned.

Stop looking for enemies.

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