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OpEd: Decoding Beyonce’s Anthem and its Unapologetic Blackness

Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show
SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Beyonce performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage) Kevin Mazur / WireImage

“Ok ladies now let’s get in formation.”

Beyoncé lyrically fires shots with her latest Billboard hit, “Formation” and instead of the “parental advisory” notation on the opening screenshot it should read, White Supremacy You’re On Notice.

The heat this song brings is unlike anything we have ever seen from Queen Bey. What’s even more astonishing is the power she is ascribing to black women in the most unapologetic and authentic way she can.

For years she has been critiqued for either being “too black” or “too much of a crossover” to really use her prowess and platform for little more than a good girl anthem.

With this latest artistic piece—lets be real, this wasn’t just a video—it was a mini-doc/PSA letting the world know unequivocally where she stands as the most powerful entertainer in the world: with black people.

RELATED: Beyoncé's Politically Charged Super Bowl Halftime Performance

With her self-entitled 2013 album "Beyoncé" she catapulted past pop star to feminist icon. By all accounts "Formation" is a continuation of her initial battle cry of "Flawless" female exceptionalism, except that there is something more pungent and less party in this song—it’s a shift from celebration to a call to action.

Black women have always been at the forefront of the movement, the proverbial backbone. This time around, instead of remaining on the sidelines of what black women have built, we are in the foreground. Beyoncé's command to "get in formation” is a siren call to black women everywhere to take their rightful positions to execute the revolution.

What we’ve learned through the numerous deaths of black men, women and children over the past few years is that “respectability” and “silence” won’t save us.

Our children are being slaughtered in the streets with justice floating high above of us like an apparition, never quite in our grasps but always lingering just out of reach. While we continue to mourn the losses of our babies, sisters, brothers, husbands and wives, we recognize that tears alone will not wash away the anti-black sentiment that is imbedded in every system of our society.

As a dear friend once said, “we need to be indignant” about claiming our humanity in the face of a system that tries — with each incarceration, each bullet, each drop of poisoned water, each redlined housing map, and gerrymandered district — to eliminate and neuter our ability to assume our power.

"Formation" is the epitome of indignant. Its unrepentant salute to blackness and black people is steadfast especially at a time when we are being placed on the defensive with each hashtag, march and protest having to defend our right to exist free from persecution and fear. The rights to walk down the street, attend school, drive a car, breathe—do all of these seemingly mundane activities while black.

When black people feel pride in their heritage no one gets hurt. When white people feel pride in their whiteness we end up being dragged behind a car to our death—see the difference?

Just this week a study was released by Psychological Science that stated that, white people feel threatened by black children as young as five years old. Where do we go from here if a white adult is afraid of a black toddler?

How are we supposed to keep our families safe if white supremacy has placed a target on our babies’ backs before they even lose their first tooth?

What we’ve learned through the numerous deaths of black men, women and children over the past few years is that “respectability” and “silence” won’t save us.

While some politicians want to berate Beyoncé for daring to show how black she is to a mainstream audience, with former Mayor Giuliani saying she was “inciting violence against police”, they fail to look at acknowledge who is on the receiving end of white fear.

When black people feel pride in their heritage no one gets hurt. When white people feel pride in their whiteness we end up being dragged behind a car to our death—see the difference?

There is nothing scarier to the structure of white supremacy than a black community that is no longer interested in making anyone “feel comfortable” with our blackness, it's not our job or our responsibility.

With one song Beyoncé did what we’ve been asking of her: use her status to elevate the black lives matter movement and place literally right smack dab in the middle of America where no one can look away or un-see her political statement.

The horn has been sounded and the lines have been drawn—the only thing left is for all of us to get in formation.

Be indignant. Be unapologetic. Be Black.

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What we’ve learned through the numerous deaths of black men, women and children over the past few years is that “respectability” and “silence” won’t save us.