Maybe I’m just not American enough. Actually I know I’m not American enough because no one will ever look at me and say “you’re American right?” (unless I’m anywhere but the U.S.) I don’t care for the performers at any of the half time shows, I really think watching the whole thing to see commercials is idiotic, and I don’t care which teams are playing and who wins. I really don’t. And this is true for the NBA, the Grammy’s, Miss America pageants, basically anything and everything that defines American pop culture I take a hard pass at.
And I’ve tried. You know for conversation sake so that I know what people are talking about and so I can contribute to conversation but what I’ve found is that the only time I enjoy indulging in pop culture is when I’m surrounded by a group of friends who seem to be enjoying it because it gets them talking. But I won’t go out of my way to watch the superbowl for example by myself. I’ll spend my time better watching something else.
So at first when Beyonce came out with formation I listened to it so that I would know, but I in all honestly I didn’t like the song. It didn’t get me hype. And I took the song for just that, a song. Not a political statement, not a racial statement. Just a song, that I didn’t happen to like. So you can imagine when a few days later she performs it at the superbowl, my thought was “well, I really didn’t like the song anyways”. I didn’t have fomo.
And then the memes started coming in, and the comments, and people talking about what that song is representing. And even though I don’t like the song I have to admit Beyonce made a hell of a statement and I can understand why so many people are so hype about it.
If I was watching the superbowl and Celia Cruz performed when she still lived at half time singing Quimbara I would probably be jumping in joy that I was being represented on TV (I as the collective we of Latinos). And if Celia made a song where the video portrays my Latino being beautiful (not just the commercial/European roots) I would probably make that song my anthem. I would probably be playing it on repeat for a month. I would probably want to pay Celia to sing that song at my funeral. Hell if we want to keep it modern I would probably be doing back flips to see Marc Anthony perform Gente de Zona. So I get the hype over Beyonce, the tribute to the Black Panthers, the lyrics, all of it.
What amazes me is that we want to talk about how progressive we are and how tired we are of people pulling the race card because racism has been extinct. But then you look at the way people who don’t get the performance reacted. Saying it’s an anti-police song, that it’s irresponsible for her to pay tribute to the Black panthers. Ummmm EXCUSE ME? We pay tribute to Christopher Columbus EVERY YEAR, you know the man who brought disease, slavery, and institutional racism. If you know anything about the Black panthers they were initially established as a means for self defense against police. So I’m sorry White America if your history makes you uncomfortable, that you have to face that racism still very clearly exists and that America the Beautiful looks very different for Black America, Latino America and and pretty much every part of America that isn’t White.
Actually no I’m not sorry, I’m glad it makes you uncomfortable, the same way I was uncomfortable having a teacher ask me “your mom reads?” because somehow the fact that she doesn’t speak English makes her illiterate, or how every time I got into a new class with new classmates someone thought it was ok to touch my long hair without asking me (you can’t), or how equally uncomfortable it is to explain to a college educated man that yes people still cross the border not in planes but by foot. My reality is different than yours, and maybe by you being uncomfortable to it, maybe you can start to awaken.
(And hey in case you didn’t know America well that’s not actually correct either, see as America is a CONTINENT, The United States on the other hand is a country. In case you were sleeping through that part of history class).
Photo via VisualHunt