Beyoncé is certainly not the first celebrity to cause a stir by inserting race into her art, but there’s a reason why her recent actions are resonating.
Quite simply, she is one of those stars of color who — until now — has been beyond race for the mainstream audience.
That was the basis of a recent “Saturday Night Live” skit that portrayed white fans freaking out about her “blackness,” as conveyed by her new “Formation” music video and a Super Bowl halftime performance in which her backup dancers dressed in Black Panther-esque outfits.
The halftime show has prompted a number of discussions both pro- and anti-Beyoncé.
Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan backed the superstar during a sermon Sunday. Fans rallied around the singer on social media, and a protest at National Football League headquarters in New York ended up drawing only Beyoncé supporters.
Louis Farrakhan offers Beyoncé concert security
However, police have argued that the imagery in the music video is anti-law enforcement, and her apparent tribute to the Black Panthers fell just as flat, given that group’s history of tensions with authorities.
Departments across the country have been discussing symbolic stands against the singer, whose video also featured imagery closely aligned with the #BlackLivesMatters movement. One scene in the “Formation” video features a young African-American boy in a hoodie dancing in front of a line of police officers wearing riot gear; then, the words “Stop Shooting Us” appear in graffiti on a wall.
A police union in Raleigh, North Carolina, is set to vote tonight on whether off-duty officers should avoid providing security for her upcoming show there.
The superstar’s stadium tour kicks off April 27 in Miami, and the Miami Fraternal Order of Police has urged a boycott there.
Miami police union calls for cops to boycott Beyoncé
In a statement posted on the group’s website, Tampa Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano said its officers were “disgusted” with the Super Bowl show and Beyoncé’s new music video.
The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police asked its members to not voluntarily work the concert there.
“If we volunteer to work her event, we’re basically saying, ‘you can say or do anything you want to when it comes to police officers, and we’re just going to sit and take it,’ ” Sgt. Danny Hale, president of the Nashville Fraternal Order of Police, Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 5, told The Tennessean. “We’ve been under attack for the past eight, 10, 12 months. Some things that are done and said are just not fair, and it’s not right.”
Authorities have been clear that they are not calling for officers to not do their jobs, just to reconsider working security for her shows, as some off-duty officers have done to make extra money.
“I can guarantee that if Beyoncé needs help anywhere, police would respond,” said Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association in New York. “She made a statement, and now law enforcement is making a statement. What’s clear is that no one in the country is trying to resolve the issues between communities of color and the distrust of law enforcement.”
Police union calls for law enforcement labor to boycott Beyoncé’s world tour
Not everyone is backing officers who have called for the Beyoncé boycott, however.
One person tweeted, “The American police are bullying Beyoncé because she asked for police not to murder black people, please and thank you.”