Monday, February 8, 2016

Ok Ladies Now Let's Get in Formation

Superbowl 50 has come and gone, and the internet is lighting up and cleaning up in the aftermath.    We are seeing less commentary on Cam Newton's reaction to his team's loss, or speculation as to whether or not  Manning will retire now that he has walked away with his win-- and more commentary on the half time show featuring Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce'.

As I was watching the show, I was struck by the magnitude of such a short performance and the impact it would have, the commentary that would be unleashed.

Here's the thing, I am from the South, and I am white and many people who are white,  Southern or conservative may object to what I am about to say next. And that is that Beyonce' has every right and responsibility to use her fame and her influence to speak out on behalf of those who are either powerless to speak and be heard or who lack support because of the polarization of our nation.

First let me say that I am tired of hearing people who are white, misinterpreting our privilege as a platform to tell others to move on from the struggle they still face. Those statements do nothing to elevate and support the people who want to rise above. Statements that come from a place of judgment or dismissal are often those which come from a place of ignorance, misunderstanding, and even more insidious, designed to keep the people who are struggling, separate from a society where they wish to be recognized as equal.

When you say that, not knowing the reality of someone else's struggle-- You. Are. Wrong.

If you were not born into poverty, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be poor. But you can speak on behalf of the poor and seek to support them in society.

If you were not born a minority, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be oppressed. But you can speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed and stand for their freedoms.

If you were not born gay, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be judged for your sexuality, but you can honor that they deserve to have the same rights as any other human being.

If you were not born transgender, you cannot know what it is like to struggle with the social definitions of gender roles, but you can walk with them and seek to understand their pain, and love them for who they are, where they are and help them figure out where they want to go.

If you were not born a woman, you cannot know the struggle that comes with growing up in a society that treats you as a sex object first, and everything else, second. But you can stop blaming us for being born with the baby maker parts-- the parts that carry the generations of the future into life. We are more than our bodies. Yet we should be honored and respected for what we can do with our bodies, our minds, our personalities and our drive, not merely minimized to only being seen for what we can do with those baby making and baby feeding parts we have.

So when people get angry and say it is time to move on from whatever struggle that is being met in society by a group within the human race, why are they not seeking to at least understand and open the way to move forward?

Back to Beyonce'.

There are people who are saying that Bey is attacking the police.  I don't agree. Not one of the lyrics in Formation says anything about police brutality. In all honesty, without the video, Formation would be a catchy tune scattered with random lyrics about Bey's  personal cultural identity, self actualization and a Beyonce' girl power anthem.

Not all police officers are bad. There are many examples of good, like the officer who bought a father formula when he couldn't feed his child; or the officer who responded to a nuisance call with a friendly game of basketball; or the police officer in Albuquerque who helped feed the homeless. There are everyday examples of the good done by the men and women who choose to serve and protect that go both noticed and unnoticed by the media.

  Beyonce' knows that, just as most Americans know that, but she also knows the anxiety that comes with being black and living in an area where one cannot be sure if they are being pulled over by one of the many many good police officers, or if they will be targeted by one of the people who joined the force for power rather than service. As a woman, I do understand this anxiety, but far less than what I would probably endure if I had grown up black in the South.

Beyonce's performance was not an attack on the police forces of the United States, it was a protest against the wrongs that American society is still trying to overcome 50 years after the march in Selma, Alabama... we are still trying to come to terms as a nation whose race should not matter, and whose culture is so diverse that we should embrace it.

Beyonce is calling to the people of her race, and the people of her gender, to stop standing aside and to speak out against the things that are wrong in our society.

What last night's performance (By ALL of the performers) was about was a nod to the need for Black History Month, and the need to choose love, to be global citizens, to celebrate diversity and culture and embrace, respect, accept and LOVE that there are differences among us. We are still equal in humanity.

The United States is standing witness with our emerging adult generations who are tired of "the establishment." Unfortunately,  tiresome politics are showing more division among those who are still following lines of drawn race, class and social strata, and those who want to TRULY move on and be more of a society.

Beyonce is using her voice as an influential and popular black songstress to highlight the problems she sees in her society, and she wants to make it known that we can speak up. Unlike Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, or Coltrane's Alabama,  Bey's lyrics were less prominent in spoken words about the call to attention.  It was Beyonce's performance and earlier video  that spoke to imagery that needed to be remembered and evoked against the divisions that are reigniting in the United States.

The thing we need to remember is that Bey isn't standing against us "white folk," she is standing against corruption and aggression towards people who do not have a voice.  While she has supported Black Lives Matter (and justifiably should), she also has supported gun control measures after Sandy Hook, and rebuilding Haiti, and even seeking to create assistance funding for the Flint Water crisis.

I stand with her reasoning and what her performance called for, just as I gathered Coldplay was standing for love and acceptance, lifting up the next generation as Global Citizens.

I am not going to sit here and make idiotic commentary like the white comedienne who commented that her freckle was the color of her soul in her latest video, "Dear Black People (I am also not going to link her because her message is more about her, and less about equality and it panders)." Because I care about the human race.

That's the color of my soul, human colored.

When we start to see ourselves as being attacked because we are different, we have to speak out and call to remind one another that we are equal and fight back against those who are trying to force any one group of us into a classification... that is what these movements are about. We might have differences in body type, sexual orientation, social class, but on the human level, we are all equal and deserve respect, not derision.