Beyonc’s ‘Formation’ Spells Out What It Means To Be A Black Feminist

As fate would have it, I was deep conditioning my natural hair when Beyonc dropped her world-stopping single, “Formation.”

A link to the video quietly scrolled across my Twitter feed as my coconut oil set, andI was initially stunned into literal silence. Then, my Twitter fingers went to work, attempting to communicateall myemotions.

All I could muster was a bunch of words thatamounted to YAS QUEEN.

The five-minute music videoshows a black church service, New Orleans bounce references (see: Messy Mya and Big Freedia), Beyonc atop a sinking cop car and, most viscerally, a black boy in a hoodie dancing in front of a police lineup withtheirhands up.

“Formation” is a brassy trap song with a multilayered social message, one it would take more than this article to unpack. What stands out, however, is Beyonc’s unapologetic blackness and her ability to illustrate black feminism in a single flip of her waist-grazing golden braids.

Just because she’s one of the highest paid black women of all time doesn’t mean she can’t keep hot sauce in her bag (swag!) orignoresthe social injustices black women still have.

IfBlack Girl Magicis the movement, then “Formation” is its anthem. Vulture’s Dee Lockett recently touched on the issue,calling the single“a new negro spiritual hymn.”Beyonc celebrates our wins as black women, in a time where white feminism and mainstream media often dismiss them.

Being a black feminist comes with a host of unique obstacles white feminists have the privilege to ignore, likehashtags dedicated tosons slain at the hands of police.

Similarly, white women are rarely held to thesame ass-backwards standards of beauty or ridiculed for their sexuality in the media.Beyonc ownsher blackfemininity and everything that comes with it,rubbingit in the world’s face.

Within the first minute of the video alone, Bey rattles off hersouthern negro roots and uses powerful imagery to praise black women’s beauty, likeBlue Ivy’s afroand the Kool-Aid-colored weave around the 1:18 mark. Not to mention, she ownsnegro noses and “Jackson 5 nostrils,”black physical features that many stilldemean.

The submerging of a police car with Beyonc on top of it symbolizesthe role of black women,historically the forefrontand backbone of political movements.Our strength and resilience — to the point that we’d lay our lives down for our blacksons, brothers and husbands — is on full display.

In front of Hurricane Katrina waters, might I add.

With lines like, “Earned all this moneybut they never take the country out me” and an offer to buy her loverRed Lobster, Beyonc owns what sheand so many other black womenare at our core: vibrant, country, colorful and confident.

“Its a dab in a video form, playing on a loop,” Jenna Wortham wrote in the New York Times, referencing the viral dance Cam Newtonoften does. “Its phenomenally delicious.”

Bey’s not stingy with her compliments, either. After first confirming that she slays, the singer adds that we all slay. She’s unifying black women. Politically, “Formation” is a black woman’s call to arms. It’s a moving assembly of ethnically authentic parts.

To be completely honest, I teared up by mythird replay.

With the spiciness of her pocketed hot sauce, Beyonc reiterates that tobe a black feminist is to stay gracious, earn yo’ paper, feel empowered no matter who’s hatin’ and make no apologies for your blackness.

To be a black feminist is to slay all day alongside your sistas.

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