Last week, Beyoncé took to the Super Bowl stage and performed the arguably “blackest” song of her career, “Formation,” in which she pays homage to the Black Panthers, infamous for their denunciation of police brutality, and rejects the white beauty lens by celebrating her “negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils” and Blue Ivy’s “baby hair and Afro.” The morning after her performance, the Houston-bred icon’s exploitation of black resistance on the most watched program in the world was the hot topic. The superstar was taken to task for the employing her blackness in both the song’s video and her half-time show to drive her brand and businesses, as one writer on Huffington Post noted how “Formation” “…just so happens to be released on the eve of her Super Bowl guest appearance … and then there’s more … a new tour to spend your income tax refund check on!”
Last night, just eight days later, rap’s reigning conscious savior, Kendrick Lamar, took to the stage of the 58th Grammy Awards to perform a medley of his songs, including the anti-establishment anthem “Alright.” Lamar delivered a performance lauded for its unapologetic blackness. His performance, complete with the visual symbolism of prison uniforms, chains and African drummers covered in body paint, was an audio-visual condemnation of white supremacy — most notably, European beauty standards and police brutality. Since his and Beyoncé’s performances carried nearly identical messages, this morning I awaited the think pieces analyzing the Compton-bred lyricist’s exploitation of black resistance on music’s biggest televised stage. I have yet to see one among the dozens praising him. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post declared Kendrick’s performance “the only one worth watching,” while CNN raved about how the “fiery performance won Grammy night.“
About the author:
LaSha is a writer who’s obsessed with Black people. Find her work here of course, but also on Ebony, The Guardian, Essence, Salon, Everyday Feminism, Teen Vogue, HuffPo and For Harriett. She’s loves trap music & 90s R&B, watches Jeopardy faithfully and believes fried chicken is her soulmate. The clapback queen is loud and clear about loving her kids above all else and kinda digs her Yankee husband too. Anti-Blackness gives her hives. Get at her @lashawrites on Twitter.