Make no mistake about it: Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 performance was pro-Black. Pro-Black as it could be and it was all done by design. As if the song and video for “Formation” weren’t strong enough statements of their own, Sunday night’s performance drove the point home.
See, I know that parts of our society weren’t aware “Formation” was released on Saturday. They weren’t in tune with social media and maybe they’re not the types who spend a large amount of time staring down at their phones, thumbing through news feeds. It left them unaware of what to expect from Bey during her time on one of the world’s largest stages. If they were in tune, like many of us are, those people would’ve known about the references to baby hair with afros, carrying hot sauce everywhere, and a Jackson Five nose.
Hearing all of that that for the first time might have been jarring, especially in a situation where the NFL’s been particularly guarded with who it allows to perform and what those acts are allowed to do and say. Racy language and dirty dancing have been banned for a while now in an effort to make the show family-friendly.
When Bey took center stage Sunday, she came out strutting her stuff in a custom black and gold outfit. Her dancers wore wore similar black-based clothing, as did fellow performer Bruno Mars and his dancing troupe. Her clothing was a subtle nod to Michael Jackson and his choice of garb worn back in 1993 during his Super Bowl XXVII halftime performance. The outfit was a way to show love to a predecessor who paved the way. However, the black leather get-ups with those black berets with Afros flowing underneath on the heads of her 50 dancers weren’t just stage props. Social media was quick to pick up the significance: a nuanced way of paying small homage to the Black Panther Party and their signature look.