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Super Bowl 50: A Celebration of Intersectionality

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The eyes of the public weren’t even lukewarm from Beyoncé’s surprise release of her single, “Formation” before she dazzled people with Black Panther-clad girls dancing on rainbows at Super Bowl 50’s Halftime show.

I’m not a huge Beyoncé fan, (Bey Hive please don’t drag me on Twitter), but I do respect her as a businesswoman. And her strategy? Even Harvard has taken notice by offering a class based on Queen Bey’s life.

The video and performance of “Formation” at this year’s Super Bowl was blacker than watching Roots in your 8th grade classroom during Black History month. It was blacker than “yo momma” jokes in the 90s. It was blacker than that, “I’m gonna tear your ass up” look your momma gave you when you misbehaved in public. It was depleted in apologies, but didn’t try too hard to be socially aware.

Above all, “Formation” showed that Beyoncé reads the same headlines as us and has an opinion, just like we do. How many Black pop stars do you see getting it in a plantation house while sinking a cop car? Beyoncé’s video isn’t just a one-off operating in a vacuum. Jay-z’s Tidal and Rocnation donated $1.5 million dollars to Black Lives Matter and other social justice organizations.  It’s safe to say that she and Hov are involved.

Back to the performance.

If the strategy was to show a more united front across marginalized communities, then the halftime show delivered. Beyoncé is considered general market, and she knows that. Her ode to the Black Panther Party glamorized her social message in a way that didn’t ostracize other cultures, but still celebrated Black lives.

Then you have rainbows everywhere. From Coldplay front man Chris Martin’s shirt, to the stage, to literally thousands of people holding up rainbow-decorated cards with the slogan, “Believe in Love,” this was a performance about acceptance.

Personally, as a gay Black man, the halftime show resonated with me. The LGBT community roared with support and resources around marriage equality. But when it came to Black lives? Crickets.

Yes, we are multifaceted individuals who are capable of multitasking our support around causes. But capability doesn’t always translate into action. For example, just off the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, social media exploded with the hash tag #LoveWins. Even big brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, American Airlines, Macy’s, and Target showed their support for the court’s decision.

However, there was sparse acknowledgement by any brands or the public around the Charleston 9 and later, the decision to stop selling the Confederate flag. Mind you, the Confederate flag didn’t come under major public attack until Black lives were taken. I’m not too pressed about my identity as a gay man; it’s my race that needs my support.

But the halftime performance celebrated both.

The nuances around intersectionality aren’t going to be solved in one performance. And that’s OK because that wasn’t the intent. In fact, that would be unachievable; not even Beyoncé herself could pull that off. But what the performance did pull off was acknowledgement for Black lives and same-sex love in a space that rarely ever takes a political stance. And that deserves a standing ovation.

terrence

Terrence Chappell surfaced on Chicago’s media scene as UR Chicago Magazine Online’s fashion editor. Since then, he has worked and contributed to various media outlets such as Michigan Ave. Magazine, CS Magazine, and The Men’s Book. Currently, Terrence serves as the editor-at-large for ChicagoPride.com, the city’s largest LGBT entertainment and news website where he writes “Chappell Confidential,” a nightlife and society column. Terrence also heads “Chappell on Community,” the site’s newest editorial monthly series that profiles the LGBT community’s most innovative leaders.