To Rudy Giuliani and anybody else weirdly offended by Beyonce

| Managing Editor

On Super Bowl Sunday, Beyonce Knowles shocked and offended angry white people everywhere when she dared to remind the world that she is, in fact, black. But perhaps that’s an oversimplification of the criticism she’s received in light of her new “Formation” music video and halftime performance, so I’ll take a minute to examine the charges.

Rudy Giuliani, desperately trying to remain relevant, went on Fox News to talk about the “outrageous” halftime performance.

Giuliani first offered a scathing artistic critique: “A bunch of people jumping around and strange things. It was terrible,” he said. “This is football, not Hollywood.” I don’t quite know what Rooty Tooty expects from a musical performance, but whatever.

Then, of course, this ultimate authority on race relations—the same guy who implied in 2014 on “Meet the Press” that black people need to be controlled by white police officers because they keep killing each other (weird, isn’t it, that people fail to mention the fact that 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by white people in 2011)—told Fox that he found it “really outrageous” that Beyonce used her performance as “a platform to attack police officers, who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”

Rudy, no offense (actually, all the offense), but you seem to be having some trouble with your memory. You seem to be forgetting that this “ridiculousness” all started because of repeated failures by law enforcement to keep people—particularly black Americans—safe. Actually, I’d go as far to say that putting a man in a choke-hold while four other officers forcefully restrain his chest, ignoring his repeated cries of “I can’t breathe” until he dies, is an example of police officers actively working against the safety of citizens (which, by the way, happened in your city, Rudeleh, and you called Mayor Bill de Blasio “racist” for expressing concern over the situation instead of black-on-black crime…you really have a talent for irrelevance).

But yeah, Ruby Tuesday, I’m as white as you are. If either one of us were to steal a pack of cigarettes, we definitely wouldn’t get shot. Our parents told us growing up that we could go to the police if we ever felt unsafe, and we never had to deal with the paradoxical problem of the police being the reason we felt unsafe. So yeah, it’s difficult to wrap your head around why officers sworn to protect and serve would ever do the opposite. But they do. And you need to recognize that.

Anyway, Rudy is ridiculous, right? I think so, but I have unfortunately seen a number of my Facebook friends express support for his weird comments and also call Beyonce’s (very unthreatening, by the way) act of protest outrageous and even racist (what?). So I do feel a need to outline some things.

Beyonce is black. Did you hear me? She is black. She is a popular artist who happens to be black, and you don’t seem to mind certain elements of that blackness when they do not act as a confrontational force reminding you of the less-than-savory elements of black experience you may perpetuate. So you have no trouble telling others that she “slays” when she sings about unthreatening themes like love and sex that you can relate to. But when she releases a song and music video that celebrates blackness while criticizing multiple manifestations of white oppression, you get uncomfortable. Because Beyonce’s blackness only “slays” if her racial identity remains comfortably ambiguous.

At the risk of going on a tangent, I am going to address an undercurrent of commentary criticizing these demonstrations against police brutality that tends to pop up. People wonder why Black Lives Matter can’t “appeal to more people” through demonstrations that are less disruptive, more peaceful. The onslaught of thinly veiled racism that flooded social media on Martin Luther King Jr. Day serves as a great example of this—people wondering why the protesters of the 21st century can’t be more like King in their quiet-but-effective demonstrations.

Let me remind you that Martin Luther King shut down an intersection and went to jail for holding what was technically an illegal protest in Birmingham, Alabama. Let me remind you that when police officers are killing black children, their mothers have a right to be angry, and anger at blatant, systemic injustice is not synonymous with violence. Let me remind you that when these injustices occur repeatedly, backing down to create a “wider appeal” is really counterproductive when “quiet dissatisfaction” did little to stop the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and countless others.

Let me remind you, once again, that the utilization of symbolism in a music video to express dissatisfaction, the donning of outfits in a performance that pay tribute to the Black Panther Party and the self-acknowledgement of all elements of an artist’s blackness, including the parts you can’t romanticize or appropriate, do not constitute un-peaceful protest. If you think that Beyonce could have communicated her message in a less offensive way, I think you need to take a good long look and ask yourself if everybody holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” would really make much of a difference, because apparently the image of a sinking police car is a little bit “too much” in response to the undeniable brutality exhibited by our law enforcement on a pretty regular basis.

If you think that Beyonce could have communicated her message in a less offensive way, consider for a moment how “offensive” it must be to die for a misdemeanor and have the rest of the country scrutinize your case for the sole purpose of proving that you did, in fact, deserve to die.

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