Privileged white America was rocked when Beyoncé brought the angry voice of African American protest to every television set in the country. Commenting on her performance Ben Shapiro, writing for The Daily Wire, wrote: “Racism is fine as long as it’s black-on-white,” and an outraged Rudolph Giuliani, former New York City mayor, who saw little else in the show than disrespect for the police bit back, insisting that what the black people in the States should be doing is building up respect for police officers. Rudy and Shapiro’s ire was raised, along with Fox News’ and a whole bunch of conservative white Americans, because Beyoncé had dared to be black in their faces.
In what was an astounding piece of entertainment and spectacle, Beyoncé brought race centre field to a white viewing public that is doing everything in its power to ignore it with her new song ‘Formation.’ Of course this is an hommage to Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and all things Black American Resistance, and why shouldn’t it be? The constant demonisation of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US media, while white America at large continues to turn a blind eye the obvious systemic racism and violence against African Americans in the nation’s law enforcement, judiciary, and entire political superstructure, is outrageous.
Shapiro, as always, couldn’t be further from the mark. There was nothing racist in this whatsoever. What was racist was his comment. Racism, among so many other detestable things, is a relationship to power, and – if we have seen anything at all – this is what white America has in barrel loads. The black kids being gunned down on America’s streets have a zero percent share in that power cake. More to the point, this could only have been construed as “black-on-white” racism if the lyrics were about white people. Nothing in the song was about white people. It was a powerful statement of black identity; ironically in the middle of Black History Month, and an affirmation of black empowerment. Not getting that was racist. Protesting it is racist. What Beyoncé Knowles did was unmistakably racial, but certainly not racist. Why does it always have to be about white people?
What has really pissed off the white American establishment is that “that negro with that Creole,” that woman, has shoved their nasty, vindictive, racist, hypocrisy right in their noses when they thought they were in the safe zone of their All-American, whites-only, Superbowl frat party. Yeah, Giuliani was right; this wasn’t Hollywood, but it was entertainment, and even if it were Hollywood she still wouldn’t be getting an Oscar for her efforts. Beyoncé has done well for herself, sure. She’s in the money, and nothing is likely to make her much poorer now, but she knows as well as anyone that this stunt won’t go unpunished. That right there is the very definition of bravery, of integrity.