Beyoncé #Formation: A Don’t Overthink Piece

Maaan, listen.

Madonna had a Black Jesus cry blood in “Like A Prayer” as Klan crosses burned on a lawn.

Animated Illustration: Veronica Marché Illustration by Veronica Marché .

Let Beyoncé comment on half a century of police brutality that still goes woefully, criminally unchecked and completely unjustified.

Let Beyoncé pay tribute to her very mixed but clearly Black heritage, one wrought with struggle spun into lace and gold, woven into tracks and braids and thread wraps and crowns, some natural, some that come with receipts.

Let her video be narrated by, punctuated by, and elevated by the voices, gyrations, and signifying of queer Black at its unapologetic flyest.

Let Beyoncé summon her sistren to be themselves, be Black, be beautiful, be critically thinking, be sexual, be gracious, be wealthy. Be regal with fans and parasols in hand. Or be street, careening in low-lows and strutting in combat boots, synchronized swimming through air in a dry pool to preserve their glorious afros…all while being unified in all their gorgeous complexity.

And when the NFL recognizes that she is a ringer for ratings (119M viewers last Sunday, making #SB50 the third most viewed program ever) and invites her to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in under 5 years (who’s ever done that? Oh—Bruno. Anyway.) Let Beyoncé acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Black Panthers via her dancers’ costume choices. It is after all, a show. I for one am not looking to her as my barometer for the relevance and power of the Black Panther Party. You know who really disrespected the Black Panthers? J. Edgar Hoover, that’s who.

So let Beyoncé live, make her art, and prosper. Or not. Because even if you refuse to “let” her, and try lame “boycotts” on a halftime show that’s been bought and paid for…The King does as she pleases. Y’all should know that by now. And when she does, no one dies, like when the cops shoot unarmed people for any, every, and no reason. And no one gets their ass beat, like the thousands of victims of domestic violence who meet said violence because of the Super Bowl’s outcome for the fiftieth time this year.


Photo: Matt Cowan/Getty Images North America

#KingBey is not igniting a liberation movement. She is inspired by it. She was raised by it. She is a product of it. How she walks the path blazed by her heroes and sheroes is her choice.

That’s how freedom works.

In other words, you’re free to get in #Formation. Or not.

Thembisa S. Mshaka is the author of Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business, and can be followed on Twitter @putyrdreams1st or IG @officiallipgame.




16 Responses to “Beyoncé #Formation: A Don’t Overthink Piece”

  1. ICYMI: Formation - Martina Clark - Writer Says:

    […] Thembisa S. Mshaka: Thembisa S. Mshaka […]

  2. dkstan28390 Says:

    Reblogged this on Dike Chiedozie's Blog.

  3. Darrell Says:

    The problem with this kind of thinking is it undermines her own purpose. It suggests that Beyonce herself is bigger and more important than the moment she is attempting to pay homage to. If it is in fact “just a show”, then it reduces the Black Power Movement to just decoration. No more than Bey’s cultural confetti. Which is it because it shouldn’t be both important enough to hold in reverence but so unimportant that I can disregard it when I’m challenged for how I use the very thing I hold dear

  4. Lydia Says:

    yours is the best response I’ve read – thank you for being level-headed and even-handed
    fave quote “And when she does, no one dies, like when the cops shoot unarmed people for any, every, and no reason. And no one gets their ass beat, like the thousands of victims of domestic violence who meet said violence because of the Super Bowl’s outcome for the fiftieth time this year.”

  5. Thembisa Mshaka Says:

    @Darrell your assessment, in my view, only holds true if one places Bey and #SB50 in greater esteem than the BPP or Black liberation movements–and that’s my point. We need not. I do not. But somehow, her nod to the look and feel of said movements with clothing and the formation of an ‘X’ on the field have skewed who and what are more important.

  6. Thembisa Mshaka Says:

    @Lydia much appreciated, thanks for reading!

  7. The #Formation Syllabus | nose to windowpane Says:

    […] Beyoncé #Formation: A Don’t Overthink Piece […]

  8. motherparadox Says:

    So beautifully written. Just perfect. (I would say more, but it would diminish your succinct full circle perspective.)

  9. #Formation as Curated by Black Women – Diaspora Hypertext, the Blog Says:

    […] Beyoncé #Formation: A Don’t Overthink Piece | Thembisa Mshaka […]

  10. mustafashakir Says:

    Thank you. We fail to realize that any and all acts of self determination and defiance are not only welcomed but necessary in the fight for black liberation. (Economic, political, social, psychological etc) it truly takes all types. Preference is what makes the world beautifully diverse and exciting. I salute her version of libertad and all others who choose to fearlessly lift their voices not in critique of others but in expression of their unique interpretation. I’m not a Beyhive member perse but I believe she is doing her courageously.

  11. Beyoncé #Formation: A Don’t Overthink Piece by Thembisa Mshaka [REPOST] - soulhead Says:


  12. Brenda Says:

    Right on….as a black woman brought up late 60’s & on; fed Black power from my family to community, I endorse your analysis…never liked Beyoncé; respect her now! Nuff said!

  13. Beyonce addresses her roots, Katrina and Black Lives Matter in new video | DanceTrek Says:

    […]…/beyonce-formation-a-dont-overthink-piece […]

  14. CaribScribe Says:

    Amen, my sistren! Bless up. 🙂

  15. Toy Says:

    You f $@%king rock! I was just having this dichotomous conversation with my Best Go In #BGI. We were dissecting our views of the #Formation movement. We both agreed that there is some major #Blackgirlmagic in the movement, in addition to Elitism, Colorism, Privilege shall I go on! However within it all Yonce, is a Pop artist, and its not the 60’s or 70’s anymore where artist aligned fully and unapologetically w/ various movements. This is a huge step for her artistically, and this is popular culture entertainment, and by golly We. Were. Entertained! So, as Yonce would do..#ClackOff

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