This past Sunday, many Americans crowded their TV’s and local bars to watch the Superbowl. Though neither of the teams were local, the hype was still felt regardless.
I won’t speak as if I watched the Superbowl because I like football. In fact, I couldn’t care less. I only wanted to see one thing, and I don’t think I’m alone: the halftime show. Coldplay, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars? Honestly, what could be better?
However, the show was met with much controversy. Specifically, Beyonce’s performance. Just the day before, she had released the video for the song she performed, “Formation.”In this song, she shares her pro-black sentiments and as Jesmyn Ward for NPR said in a recent article:
“She sings to those of us who grew up black in the American South, who swam through Hurricane Katrina, who watched the world sink, who starved for two weeks after the eye passed, who left our dead floating in our houses. She sings to those of us who were displaced, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to Hartford, who lived for months or years or still live in those other places, when the living heart of us is bound so tight with oak and pine we can barely breathe.”
Much of the criticism is coming from, you guessed it: white people. As a white American, I felt a weird sense of conflict. Should I add to matters that don’t concern me, or should I use what little understanding I have to clear up misconceptions that people who share my privilege have?
Like, for instance, diversity. I’ve heard tell of many who say that her show wasn’t “diverse” because there were no white backup dancers. It should be made clear that in a song about issues concerning the Black American population, having white back-up dancers for the sake of diversity is quite daft. It’s almost like saying that we should include men’s opinion in how women care for their bodies. It’s fine, but not really necessary, as women know their bodies better than men.
It’s been said that her song and the performance (in which she and her dancers pay tribute to the Black Panther party) is “an attack on cops.” Since when has criticism and empowerment come to be known as an attack? It’s painfully obvious at this point that not all police are bad. We’ve all seen videos of cops dancing with children or being silly. But, when there is consistent profiling and brutal treatment of a certain group of people within the same police force, it’s something that cannot be ignored. We can’t forget Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and the almost countless others who have lost their lives by saying “not all cops are bad.”
In the end, to be white in a world where it feels like everyone is a target except for you means that white opinions on black are irrelevant. We don’t decide what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong. We won’t, and never will, understand these experiences with the depth that those who have not been served justice do. It wouldn’t be fair if those who haven’t suffered get to choose what is suffering and what isn’t. To my fellow white people, I hope that we can at least keep each other in check and understand our privilege. Maybe then we can make some real progress toward peace.