By Chelsea Moran
Blog Content Contributor
Super Bowl 50 was over three weeks ago but Beyonce’s halftime performance of her new single “Formation” is still sparking controversy. Some people think the performance was anti-police and that the Super Bowl 50 halftime show was an inappropriate place and time to promote the political statement that #BlackLivesMatter. One young conservative in particular, Tomi Lahren, took issue with Yonce’s salute to the Black Panthers.
For those who didn’t catch the low key symbolism, the background dancers outfits were a nod to the females of the Black Panther Party and beyond that, the X formation they formed was supposedly in recognition of Malcolm X. Behind the scenes, the dancers were taking pictures with their fists in the air and holding signs promoting justice for victims of police brutality.
During the #FinalThoughts segment of her self titled show for The Blaze, Tomi states, “First it was hands up don’t shoot, then it was burning down buildings and looting drug stores all the way to Oscars So White and now even the Super Bowl halftime show has become a way to politicize and advance the notion that black lives matter more.”
Let me start by saying that the entire halftime show and the theme of Super Bowl 50 promoted equality for all. Did you not see the rainbow colors everywhere representing the LGBT community? Another group in America who have been brutalized by the police and society in the past. Dear Tomi, why have you failed to point out this promotion of gay pride? Especially if you think celebrities (and you, a minor celebrity) can not pick and choose the issues they want to discuss? The gay rights and Black Lives Matter movements are the two major issues of our generation so of course if the theme is equality for all, these are issues that are going to be addressed. The Black Panther Party was a group who were against police brutality and wanted equality for the black community, therefore I don’t think it strange or wrong that they were saluted in the performance. Also, in no way does the promotion of either of these movements mean that the performance was anti-white, anti-police or says that black lives matter more than other races or ethnicities.
Secondly, it is Black History Month. Furthermore, it is the 50th year anniversary of the Black Panther Party. I see no reason why Beyonce, a black entertainer, should not pay homage to her race and her culture. Conservatives across the board have been shaming Beyonce and critics were surprised that the star made such a political statement because she has never done so in her entire career. My theory is that maybe Mrs. Carter is tired of having to keep up with the mainstream standard that requires her to adjust her artistry to appropriate for racial audiences who may not relate to the black women getting in formation and singing “I like my…baby hair afros, I like my negro nose.” Tomi called out the entertainer by saying, “guess what Beyonce, white people like your music too,” as though her actions and song lyrics making a statement that black women should love their natural features, that are usually under harsh criticism, somehow meant that she was anti-white.
On February 15, Tomi had a debate with radio talk show host of the Breakfast Club, Charlamagne, after he called her “Donkey of the Day” for her comments about the Black Panthers. During the debate, Tomi further insulted the Black Panther Party by flat out calling them terrorists. This lead to a tense debate over the Black Lives Matter movement which Tomi claims has become a terrorist movement due to the radicalism of a few individuals. Charlamagne shot back saying that you can’t judge an entire movement based on the bad actions of a few just as we cannot judge police forces across America based on those involved in brutality against minorities. Tomi conceded that there were issues with the system but in no way made any suggestions or comments on how to better it. However, she still argued the Black Panthers were a terrorist group who promoted violence even after Charlemagne explained the history to her.
The Black Panthers were a group seeking equality. They policed the police in attempt to make sure that routine traffic stops didn’t result in someone being gunned down. They only used violence when necessary as a form of self-defense. They implemented programs to help their community; The Breakfast Program served free breakfast to elementary students, People’s Free Medical Center’s, The Youth Institute, Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE), and many more. Tomi brushed off Charlemagne’s attempted explanation, saying she was sure the Black Panthers provided some services that were necessary. The way she said this makes me wonder if she actually knows anything beyond the altercations between the Black Panther Party and the police.
Overall, I believe Tomi is a decent talk show host; she’s well spoken and she carries herself well. However, that does not justify her actions. It’s obvious that Ms. Lahren’s comments have upset a plethora of people and I think it’s foolish of her to say that people should not behave in such a way toward her. You cannot put your negative thoughts about a subject you clearly have limited knowledge and lack of perspective on out into the universe and then tell people how to feel and respond to it. Furthermore, she needs to reevaluate some of her thoughts, like when she claimed celebrities keep ripping off the historical band-aid when they do anything to promote the Black Lives Matter movement. Well Tomi, no band-aid can fix the lynchings that happened in the past and in the words of Taylor Swift, “band-aids don’t fix bullet holes.” Minorities are being gunned down by police and regardless if the victim of brutality deserved to be arrested, regardless if they had a knife or refused to lay down on the ground or put their hands up in the air, the police shouldn’t resort to a death shot. Those are just my final thoughts.