WPN (White Privilege News)
Dear White People Offended By Beyoncé’s Halftime Performance
The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong, to- Terrance Hopewell
Football is a grand and heavily followed sport, that reaches all corners of the U.S. By extension, it is a part of our culture, televised across the country, and therefore a platform for statements, however much we disagree with them. The Super Bowl is the culmination of this and sometimes a seat of controversy.
I’ve been scrolling through social media and, of course, there have been comments concerning Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance for the past two days. A lot of people, mostly white, have been making derisive and visceral statements regarding the presentation of the performance and the song’s topics: the Black Panthers attire, Black Lives Matter movement, and police brutality. Let me dismantle why many of the arguments against her performance are flawed, ignorant and prove that racism, however casual, still exists.
One: the manner of dress was an homage to a group that, in their best attempts, were fighting the social injustices, institutionalized segregation and prejudices and vying to uplift the Black community, that for so long had been subject to all manners of oppression (people think that 1865, 1954, and 1964 were so long ago, but that’s a different conversation for another day). Sadly, due to the FBI’s COINTELPRO project, the Black Panthers and other deemed “subversive” groups were systematically torn apart, discredited and downright eliminated, even though many of the actions of J. Edgar and his agents were illegal. But the KKK continues today despite the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and President Grant’s attempts to eliminate the group entirely. But I’ll press forward.
This leads me to my second point: Black people, historically, have had a very, and oftentimes, opposite experience with law enforcement at all levels when compared with the experiences of whites. Many of us, especially those with family from the southern or western parts of the country, can recount stories told by our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, of the overt, out in the open racism that pervaded everything from restaurants to hospitals and even to churches.
Police officers were no exception. Saying “Black Lives Matter” does not mean we are anti-white or anti-police; that’s a facile argument. What it means is that we are anti-police brutality, particularly with regards to Black people, and moreover, Black males. What it means is that 12-year old Tamir Rice, who was playing in the park with a toy, should not have been gunned down within 3 seconds of police arrival. It means that Freddie Gray should have been properly secured while being transported in police custody and not wantonly thrown about while handcuffed, thus sustaining a severe injury to his head and spine, eventually dying. It means that if these accounts regularly occurred in areas with heavy, and especially middle or upper class, white populations, change would be swift and punishments would be severe.
Obviously, individual anecdotes about police interactions vary, but we can not disregard that when a significant portion of a society speaks around a particular issue, there is, at least, a conversation that needs to be had — Blacks don’t often get this dialogue because we’re seen as race baiting, blowing up the issue, promoting “white guilt”, or simply being thuggish. To say “All Lives Matter” means that each life is treated as equal in any possible scenario. And, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but, it’s not. We make up less than 15% of the population and yet are more than twice as likely to be killed by a police officer, disregarded by a jury, or serve harsher penalties for similar/same crimes when compared to whites, all because of the color of our skin. Why?
We don’t have any power. Between slavery and Jim Crow, coupled with societal norms, we have been consistently subject to being cut off in all mainstream participation. So, we had to create spaces for ourselves to show our naturally kinky hair, support the endeavors of black students, artists, and entertainers, and honor our fellow black peers. The minute something becomes “too black”, many people, especially someone white, begin to feel uncomfortable and sometimes angry. We, as a Black community, are very much told how we should feel about race, how what we may think is not comparatively valid to what someone white has to think about race.
Racism is not over. It has not ended — its form and execution have only changed. And I’m sorry, but if you proudly wave the Confederate Flag, you’re racist. Or at least extremely bigoted. Plain and simple. You’re not celebrating your ancestors or showing Southern pride and you can’t write it off as it’s just a symbol and represents states’ rights. Because last I checked, the swastika was originally a peace/luck symbol of certain religions and we all know how it was appropriated and used for less than humane purposes. But I digress.
So, to posit that if the Super Bowl had white performers singing “Dixie” and waving the Confederate Flag, everyone alike would be up in arms, and, therefore, Beyoncé should not be allowed to show anything even remotely related to the African American experience, is flawed and only shows your nostalgia and want for a return or revival of how things were before the contemporary era.
I am not saying that every white person is racist or can’t understand the struggle of being Black in America. Or that every police officer is corrupt and quick to draw their weapon when the subject is not white. Obviously, I don’t expect one person or even a small number to represent an entire people. It took many white supporters to help minorities, especially Blacks, get to where we are today. That’s oftentimes the only way an oppressed group of people are able to advance in a society: those that are part of the mainstream and larger population have to help. And yes, we’ve come a long way from where we were a short 151 years ago and an even shorter, 52 years ago.
But, we can do better. I don’t expect this to be some life-altering post but I do hope it reaches enough of you to at least start a dialogue. We don’t have to bash and criticize and demean one another. There is a way to acknowledge someone’s view and have a disagreement. Like Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.