Beyoncé’s electrifying performance at the Super Bowl 50 half time show has now caused police to criticize her and others to call for a boycott of the artist.
The video for her new song, “Formation,” had a lot of images that seemed to reference police brutality. The singer laid on top of a New Orleans police car in one scene, a spray-painted wall that said “stop killing us” was shown in another, and there was one part where a person in a hoodie danced in front of a row of officers.
Then, on Sunday, during a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s creation, she performed the song, and her dancers dressed in leather jackets that seemed to be replicating the Panthers’ attire. The dancers wore berets with afros, which also looked similar to those of the pro-Black political group.
Now, many viewers of the show are up in arms and have even called Beyoncé’s performance “racist” due to its promotion of a group that often battled against police. According to Business Insider, members of the National Sheriff’s Association watched the Super Bowl during their annual meeting, but turned off the half time show because they were offended by the “Formation” video.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Black man, spoke with Fox Business host Jo Ling Kent and explained that while music artists are known for making political statements from time to time, Beyoncé’s performance was so extreme that it was comparable to someone dressing like a KKK member.
“Look, musicians have long used their music, their trade to make political statements in their music. We may not like it, but I don’t want to make a huge deal about it,” said Clarke. “Them coming out, Beyoncé in those Black Panther-type uniforms, would that be acceptable if a band, a White band came out in hoods and white sheets in the same sort of fashion? We would be appalled and outraged.
“The Black Panthers are a subversive hate group in America,” he continued. “I think she could have done a better job, but I think Bruno Mars was a better halftime act anyway.”
Several people took to social media to express their views on the performance, like one woman who left a comment on Beyoncé’s Facbook page: “As the wife of a police officer, I am offended by this entire video,” she wrote. “Rise above and stay above the strife. For a girl who grew up in a privileged, wealthy family, she has no business pandering to those who didn’t.”
A Facebook and Twitter page with an icon that says “Blue Lives Matter” has been dedicated to boycotting Beyoncé. Other law enforcement supporters have also began using #BoycottBeyonce on their social media pages.
To be clear, while the Panthers did have their run-ins with law enforcement, the group was created to improve the self-sufficiency of the Black community. Food co-ops, community education and training were pillars of the organization. Self sufficiency also included defending yourself and family from police brutality when it came into your community. Much like many Black Americans of today, the Panthers were fed up with the police’s unfair treatment of Blacks, so they took on more control in Black neighborhoods and kept tabs on police activity in those areas. The Panthers also never claimed to be anti-White, but anti-racism.