Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance of her new single, “Formation,” has received a large amount of post-game attention, stemming not from a reaction to its artistry, but the political message it apparently contained.
Her back-ups dancers were dressed in black leather and berets that bore resemblance to the uniforms of the Black Panthers, a black nationalist paramilitary group, some noted. In one point in the performance, Beyonce and her dancers shook their fists in the air in unison, a possible reference to the 1968 Olympics black power salute.
Backstage, some of Beyonce’s backup dancers made explicit political statements, making the salute with a sign that reads “Justice 4 Mario Woods,” a black gang member who was killed by the police.
— Jamilah King (@jamilahking) February 8, 2016
— The Dream Defenders (@Dreamdefenders) February 8, 2016
The music video for “Formation,” was released the day before the Super Bowl, also featured images that had political overtones, which some interpreted as an allusion to the Black Lives Matter protests against police killings.
“She unabashedly referenced the Black Panthers, and made Black Power salutes, all while asserting her own cultural and ethnic identity. Formation is about where she comes from and where she is going. It’s quite something,” wrote Suzanne Moore in an opinion piece for the Guardian.
— tuhrell jawnsun (@2xRell) February 6, 2016
At one point in the video, a graffiti with the message “stop shooting us” appears on a side of a building, and Beyonce sits atop a police car that’s submerged under the flood.