Super Bowls and Soap Boxes

First of all, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, so if I’m wrong in my assessment, I will not be offended if you decide to correct me. Here’s what I know: 1) Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce did the halftime show; 2) Beyonce released a new song only a few days before the Super Bowl and then performed the new song at the Super Bowl; 3) Beyonce’s backup dancers wore berets reminiscent of the Black Panthers, a relatively militant civil rights group of the 1960’s; 4) Bruno Mars’ backup dancers/singers were dressed more like old school hip hop artists; 5) Coldplay had orchestral and marching band support wearing all the vibrant colors of the rainbow and with a message of love; 6) the whole show is being touted as some sort of new age Civil Rights love fest supporting both the LGBTQ “agenda” and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Number 6 is obviously opinion, but it seems to be the popular opinion, so I’m going to include it as part of my list of facts I know about the half time show.

On the surface, there can be no complaints about the halftime show, given what we know. How can anyone find fault in support LGBTQ rights, or honoring different periods of black history during Black History month while making a positive statement about the Black Lives Matter movement?

We’ll get to that in a moment. Take a few minutes to take a look at the half time show:

Please take note at approximately 1:20, where the guy from Coldplay comments that “Wherever you are, we’re in this together.” Then again at the very end (approsimately 12:33), after a mashup/montage of past Super Bowl songs they pan out and the stands behind them have the colorful message to “Believe in Love.”

That is positive and beautiful. It brings us together as a people. It tells us that we are all one race: the human race, and as such we are in this together and should have equal rights and we should love one another instead of hating on each other.

Now, let’s take a careful look at Bey’s new song…

Can we get any more divisive than talking about how she likes her “negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils” and how she “twirl[s] all [her] haters, Albino Alligators…”

Did I miss something? Did she not just comment about liking black men over others? Which, don’t get me wrong, everyone’s entitled to their choice or preference, but had a person of either gender who was white made a comment about liking blonde hair and small noses or small butts, the entire country would have jumped up and grabbed their pitchforks, angry mob fashion to kill them for being so politically incorrect, so racist, so discriminatory.

And “Albino Alligators?” If that’s not a direct comparison between white people and scaly, cold-blooded, predators, then I need to quit teaching because I can’t identify simile and metaphor…

And again, the entire nation would have jumped up in an uproar if someone else had made a similarly derogatory statement. A friend of mine who happens to be half black had a baby recently and someone bought her son a shirt that said something about Momma’s Little Monkey on it, and her family went nuts over it, about it being racist and completely inappropriate… That was a shirt. For an infant. A non-famous infant.

Queen Bey just went on national (global, now that the internet connects us all) television and said a line about albino alligators in her song, and it’s being called “Perfect.”


I’m going to ignore the part where “slay,” which is a term for very violent murder, is used throughout to mean that she is just that damn good at what she does, while she brags about taking her man to Red Lobster if he fucks her good, again, because she “slays.”

We’ll even ignore the fact that I’m pretty sure Beyonce could own her own Red Lobster, and I’m pretty sure if she’s in the mood for lobster, she can have it flown in fresh from wherever the best lobster can be found. I’m pretty sure she can do better than Red Lobster because she “slays” so well… Earlier she was talking about Givenchy dresses…

Moving on.

Now, some of the lyrics, I understand are meant to have multiple meanings, and if you watch the video, there are obvious references to Hurricane Katrina, and to the shooting of young African American males by the police, including the graffiti that says “Stop Shooting Us.” Something OBVIOUSLY needs to be done. No one is saying (or at least I’m not saying) that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t important.

Her references to the Black Panthers (both historically important, and a neat bit of situational irony since the Panthers were playing the Super Bowl yesterday) were a nice touch, albeit, I’m not sure it’s the right way to get the message across. The Black Panthers were particularly militant. While Martin Luther King was offering a message of peaceful protest, the Black Panthers were offering violent recourse. Were they protecting the neighborhoods? Yes. But they’re violence was met with more violence.


Which is exactly what we see when similar things happen today.

After things got bad in Ferguson in November of 2014, after the young man was killed and the police officer was let off the hook, people protested. No. They rioted! I commented then that I didn’t think that was the proper way to handle it. With my logical brain, I saw it as a basic syllogism: If people think people of color are violent, and people of color react violently, then the stereotype of people of color being violent will continue and people will continue to act as if people of color are violent. Thus, because of a stereotype, authorities might shoot first instead of ask questions, and the media takes it and runs with it as being a problem with the authorities not doing their job correctly…

Should they shoot first? Of course not, but then again, let’s look at some other factors.

For instance, when did “thug culture” become synonymous with black culture? Around the same time as Ferguson, Iggy Azalea was accused of appropriating black culture because her style of rap, dance, and fashion was considered too black… because it was more of the gangsta or thug style.

Because to be gangsta or thug or hood or street is to be black…?

I forgive her, though; I’m always going to love her Fancy video because it reminds me of my teenage years and of my favorite movie at the time: Clueless.

In my classroom, I see students all the time choose to act “hard” or “street” instead of trying to be smart. One young man is constantly telling me that what we are doing in class is dumb because it requires him to look beneath the surface.

About my third year of teaching, I became the butt of a joke because we had only one African American teacher at the small school where I was at and during one of our trainings, I said something about thinking he spoke very eloquently. I didn’t mean it as he spoke “eloquently for a black person,” I meant, he spoke better than most of the other teachers there, with an expanded vocabulary, and he sounded easily two or three times more intelligent than the head coach who was a white guy. Not 15 minutes after that comment, we watched a video that included a section explainging that when a white person tells a black person they speak eloquently it’s insulting.

Similar to how I feel about being called exotic.

I spent the rest of the training not talking to anyone because I was embarrassed that my words could be taken so far out of context and I wasn’t given the chance to correct my error because it was more fun for everyone else to laugh at me… the non-white girl who’d made what was perceived as a racist insult.


But this is kind of what I’m talking about with the Beyonce Formation song/video. While on the one hand, it has been applauded for it’s promotion of  Black love, the idea that one should be able to be proud of their culture, the afros, the “Jackson 5 nostrils,” and all the other things that she makes reference to that people not from the African American community might miss.

On the other hand, by promoting a separation of the races by things as arbitrary as hair style and the width of one’s nose brings more negativity than positivity. Be proud of who you are, no doubt, but one shouldn’t be proud at the expense of another group. That goes for the the white culture as well.

And hispanic culture, and Native American culture, and Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Muslim, Jewish, and any other culture I missed. There are a lot of them…

Let’s bring it back to Clueless for a second. The woman who played Dionne, Stacey Dash, recently made some comments about we need to get rid of things like the Black Entertainment Television (BET) station, and the BET awards.

“We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration. And if we don’t want segregation, then we need to get rid of channels like BET and the BET Awards and the Image Awards where you’re only awarded if you’re Black,” she explained. “If it were the other way around, we would be up in arms. It’s a double standard.”

She was saying what I was saying about it bringing more separation than togetherness, and the internet went berserk! More than just the internet, people were calling her out left and right on multiple media platforms, including the NAACP Image Awards.

Yet she’s not the only African American to say such things. Morgan Freeman said it in an interview, only people seem to have decided to ignore it because they respect him too much to think he would say something so “silly…”


There have always been two ways of looking at the Civil Rights movement: the peaceful way, in which you just act as if you belong in a place until people accept that you do (the MLK way), or the force people to acknowledge your differences until there is resentment on both sides (the Black Panther way). One way is slow, but allows for gradual acceptance on both sides, in which we learn to value each other’s differences. The other forces us to see only each other’s differences and to keep us separated by them.

During the Super Bowl Halftime show, we saw both ways in action. Coldplay embraced everyone, unifying us with love, ignoring the differences because we are more alike than different. Beyonce, and to a lesser extent Bruno Mars, forced us to see the differences first.

Isn’t it time we started caring more about our similarities than our differences?

I apologize for the rant, but thank you for sitting through it with me. I promise that in my next post we’ll be back to discussing love and romance and how to help those things grow. The Bartender is stepping things up, moving quickly again; tomorrow will be our third date in less than a week. But he has a restraint I’m not used to, and I can’t wait to get into it with all my readers… but this Super Bowl thing has been blowing up my news feed and I felt I needed to speak out on it. As a racially ambiguous person, who is neither white nor black, I sometimes feel I’m in a unique place to show how ridiculous we’re all being.

Maybe that’s arrogant of me, but so be it. Until next time:

believe in love.jpeg

About Elizabeth

First and foremost I am a teacher. What I teach is a blend of grammatical art, literary love, and a smidge of spiritual awareness. My blog tries to combine the best of all three over a cup of tea.

2 thoughts on “Super Bowls and Soap Boxes

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