Over on the other side of the Atlantic, February marks the celebratory month of Black History which coincides perfectly with musical superstar and icon, Beyoncé’s new music video, Formation. One thing I noticed when Bey dropped the video was the reaction towards the multiple wardrobe changes – ignoring the overall statement she is communicating through the use of imagery and lyrics. First and foremost, Formation is more than your average fashion show or a collection of future Instagram captions – it’s a self-appreciation lesson to black women worldwide.
Beyoncé’s new video has Blue Ivy, Afros, New Orleans, Big Freeda, Red Lobster, Black Lives Matter. She just owned February.
— jamilah lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) February 6, 2016
Whilst I have admittedly very little background knowledge of American history I do know that Formation is a visual homage to southern African- American history and current racial injustice many POC have to deal with today. It manages to consistently incorporate subtle cultural references everything from MLK to 2005 Hurricane Katrina to the Black Lives Matter movement whilst still flying the flag for female empowerment, something she’s been known for since her Destiny’s Child days.
It’s unarguable that for years, black women have been placed at the bottom of the social hierarchy and forced to work twice as hard only to receive half of the credit deserved. She explicitly inspires women to unite, be your own boss, own your cultural roots (I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros/ I like my negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils) – for a mother it is amazing that for somebody of her calibre to utilise her struggles as a way to inspire young females like Blue Ivy.
“You don’t just watch a video like “Formation.” You absorb it, you study it, you praise it. One day after making such an unapologetically black statement for the world to see, it was only natural that Beyoncé would make a direct link to black activist history.” – Jamilah King, MIC.com
So is Formation an anthem for years to come? Not likely but it is a bold middle finger to everyone who continues to dismiss the hardship People Of Colour have to deal with on a regular basis. We have learnt that the Irreplaceable songstress is fully aware of the growing list of young black citizens being shot down the police (donated $1M to BLM movement and participated in march for Trayvon Martin) and is clear on how unjust the system is (see below) and has chosen the perfect time to exploit this. Let’s hope she continues to stand up and use her platform to spread awareness of this as well as encourage other celebrities to also speak up and not just use it for her own ulterior motives.