Back in February, Beyoncé released her new single “Formation” along with a video featuring no-so-subtle imagery of a submerged police car and the phrase “Stop Shooting Us” spray painted on a wall. The flames were further fanned when she performed the song at during the Super Bowl Halftime show accompanied by a group of dancers dressed in militaristic black leather reminiscent of Black Panther garb. Police unions across the country called for protests, and some even attempted to picket the NFL (and failed miserably).
In a new interview with Elle magazine, Bey spoke for the first time about the video and performance.” I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood,” she said. “But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of the officers who sacrifice themselves to keeps us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things.”
She went on, adding, “If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
Elsewhere in the interview, she talked about embracing her position as a modern feminist icon, even as she shied away from fully accepting the label. “Working to make … inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist,” Beyoncé explained. “I don’t like or embrace any label. I don’t want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that’s my one priority, over racism or sexism or anything else. I’m just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion — I feel that women have the same rights.”
The Queen Bey will continue to make her message known when she launches her Formation World Tour in Miami later this month.
Revisit the “Formation” video below.