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Breanna Andrea

Western Culture and History


Samuel Grubbs
11 November 2016
Beyonc and the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is the annual championship event of the National Football League. The
Super Bowl is where the highest level of professional American Football takes place. The first
game was played 49 years ago on January 15th 1967 and has been going on ever since. American
people love football because it is a traditional American past time. Every year the NFL brings in
7.24 billion dollars in revenue to split with all 32 teams and over 100 million people have tuned
in to watch the Super Bowl these past few years. Needless to say the Super bowl is a part of
American culture and tradition.
In 2016 Beyonc was chosen again to perform at the halftime show but this time
alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars. Considering that this was her second time performing
during halftime everyone expected a spectacular performance. What I saw and what I planned to
see were two completely different things. In 2016 when Beyonc graced the stage [her]
performance featured her and her dancers wearing outfits that paid tribute to the Black Panthers,
the radical socialist organization in the U.S. that challenged police brutality against African
Americans between the 1960s and 70s. The dancers were also photographed after the show with
fists raised in the air, similar to the black power salute made famous in the 1960s.
Another group of dancers was photographed holding a sign that read, Justice 4 Mario Woods, a
Black man who was killed in December by San Francisco police. He was shot at least 20 times,
with officers claiming that they suspected he was holding a knife (Cole, 2016, p.). The day

after the Super Bowl there was a lot of buzz around her performance and what it meant. Some
people believed that there was no need to have a political performance during the Super Bowl
because its a time to come together and not talk about the differences or problems within the
American body. On the opposite side of the spectrum people were glad that Beyonc used her
fame to uplift African-Americans more specifically African-American women. Some of the
critiques against her performance where similar to those who did not approve of Ethiopian
runner, Feyisa Lilesa and his silent protest toward his government back home. People
disapproving of Beyoncs performance for example Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York
Citysaid that Beyoncs Super Bowl halftime performance was an attack on police officers.
He then, in a remarkable show of lacking self-awareness or ability to read the room, described
police as the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive. Rudy doesnt realize that
in America, many black people dont consider themselves part of that us. And in the face of
numbers proving the statistically disproportionate way in which police kill black Americans, his
comments sound tone deaf (Allen, 2016, p.9). From the same perspective an Urban youth
minister Patrick D. Hampton who works in the inner cities questions the Black Lives Matter
movement. Hampton said he would also like to see celebrities address thug brutality on social
media. Hampton questions, If BlackLivesMatter, why isn't Beyonc and these rappers
addressing thug brutality like they address police, he said. The Super Bowl was supposed to be
a time to escape all of the nonsense but Beyonc just ripped open another wound and America
isnt responding. Even though there was a considerable amount of backlash surrounding the
performance, I didnt feel as though it was an inappropriate time to start the conversation
surrounding police brutality. With sensitive topics like these there is never an appropriate time. I
applaud Beyonc for being so bold and unapologetically black. As a black American woman in

todays society I take a certain stance on issues surrounding other black females. When I watched
the half time show I was happy to see other women standing tall in and embracing their skin
color, with an anthem that talks about black features in a positive tone. Growing up I had trouble
with my identity and finding other people that looked like me on the television. There was
always an abundance of white characters with the occasional token minority. Representation of
African-Americans were few and far between, so seeing all these black women stand together in
their blackness was something that made me feel uplifted and joyous.
Even though people felt that the Super Bowl wasnt the right time to start the discussion
about police brutality and race relations Beyonc got the conversation going. She forced you to
think about what was going on whether you liked it or not and I think thats something people
need to be comfortable with. Part of the problems arise because people are too scared to talk
about a subject that makes them uncomfortable. There should not be discomfort in talking about
race relations. Being in America the melting pot American citizens more specifically white
Americans should not feel attacked when African-Americans speak on issues and uplift other
African-American citizens. Being pro-black does not necessarily mean anti-white. I cannot
speak for Beyonc but I assume she wanted to make a statement using context clues and taking
into consideration the attire, music and the make-up of her dancers. Her performance was not an
attack on police or white America it was simply Beyonc using her platform (the Super Bowl) to
uplift black America. Yes, there could always be better times to talk about sensitive topics but
they need to be discussed if progress is in the picture. Even though the Super Bowl is mainly
centered around the actual playing of football it can be a good place to discuss or show case
other things. An increasing number of people watch the Super Bowl strictly for the commercials.
Overall I understand that most Americans arent concerned with the half time performances. The

average American is concerned with the plays and supporting their favorite teams. Traditional
Super Bowls arent loaded with heavy topics, its just a safe space for two teams to compete. I
understand why people might want to keep big sporting events separate from controversial issues
but it is something that should be talked about. I think Beyonc was smart in using her stage and
the viewers as a time to shed light on a situation. I dont see anything wrong with bringing up
these topics even if the viewer may not agree it starts the conversation and makes it easier to
bring up for discussion. Like it or not Beyonc is an international performer that has a lot of
power in the entertainment industry. She has the right to use her power how she pleases and her
performance at the 2016 Super Bowl was one of my favorite moments of her career. Sports and
politics have the ability to mix and can work in favor of those whose voices cannot be heard.
Beyonc speaks for the African-Americans who think their voices arent loud enough.

Works Cited

Allen, L. C. (2016, February 9). Beyonc's Super Bowl Performance: Why the Outrage is ...
Retrieved November 10, 2016, from http://www.teenvogue.com/story/beyonce-super-bowlperformance-outrage
Cole, J. (February 09, 2016). Beyonce angers US Right by bringing up African-American Rights
at Superbowl. Informed Comment, 2016-2.
Next Step for Beyonc. (February 13, 2016). Racism Review, 2016-2.
The, P. V. O. D., & Greenwald, D. (February 09, 2016). Commentary: The Beyonce Controversy
Flew Over My Head. The People's Vanguard of Davis, 2016-2.