By Caley Griebenow, features editor
On the night of December 13th, 2013, I remember staring at my computer screen, and my jaw practically hitting the floor. Beyoncé did it. She had dropped her self-titled album without any promotion or formal announcement, and iTunes was dominated by her black-and-pink album art.
It immediately shot to number one on the U.S. Billboard 200, and her wildly successful tour, the On The Run Tour with husband Jay Z, subsequently followed. Unfortunately, I did not attend her concert back in 2014, but come this May, I have another chance. Beyoncé returns to Chicago for the Formation World Tour, presumably named after her single “Formation.”
“Formation”, which dropped February sixth, caused more hysteria than her album did, but for different reasons. The video features symbolic images of a sinking New Orleans police car, decrepid houses, police putting their hands in the air, and a graffiti “stop shooting us” written on a building. Accompanying these images are controversial lyrics like “My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana/You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama”.
The song was undeniably meant to highlight black pride and race issues, in the imagery, in lyrics like <I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils…Earned all this money but they never take the country out me>, and in the fact that no white person was in the video.
The video sparked controversy because how dare Beyoncé, a black woman, make a statement about racial issues in America? How dare she negatively portray the police, even as police brutality is a nation topic of conversation? How dare she exclude white people from her video? This hypocrisy was hilariously portrayed in a Saturday Night Live skit, “the Day Beyoncé Turned Black.” And let’s not forget that Taylor Swift’s music video for “Wildest Dreams” was set in Africa and it included no black people.
However, the controversy did not stop with the video itself. Some people, like the youth minister in this Fox News article, felt it was inappropriate of Beyoncé to bring up movements like #Blacklivesmatter during the Superbowl. But doesn’t it make sense for someone like Beyoncé to make a statement that would be viewed by over 100 million people? Wouldn’t she want as many people as possible to join the national conversation?
And just this past Monday, a man was convinced Beyoncé’s song was the reason for fired shots near his home.
Let’s get a couple things straight: the people who fired those shots are to blame, not Beyoncé. She should not be blamed for making a thought-provoking video about race; rather, people who would rather sweep these issues under the rug and talk about football are the ones to blame.