Beyoncé's Grammy performance didn't need to be political, her music already says it all
On Sunday evening, Beyoncé took the Grammys stage to perform "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles" from her game-changing album, Lemonade. While the performance lacked the same level of political iconography that she brought to the February 2016 Super Bowl, that doesn't mean Beyoncé has gotten any less political.
Quite the opposite.
After an introduction from Tina Knowles, Beyoncé opened her performance by projecting images of her matrilineal heritage — Tina Knowles, herself and her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter — on stage. Beyoncé celebrated black womanhood with nuance, an inherently political act. She was a black woman who refused to be erased.
After Beyoncé took the stage, people on Twitter began to shout out her performance and its inherent political nature.
From the debut of "Formation" a year ago all the way through the dropping of the Lemonade visual album and her many televised performances, Beyoncé has affirmed black women at every turn.
Lemonade sampled a Malcolm X speech on black women. Beyoncé placed the Mothers of the Movement front and center in the visuals for "Forward." When she stormed the 2016 Super Bowl with a powerhouse performance that overshadowed headliner Coldplay, her all-female dance crew donned Black Panther tribute outfits. Lemonade reminded the music industry what it meant for a black woman to control her art.
Beyoncé's politics goes beyond red and blue, presidents and congress. She doesn't need to speak about politics to be political. Beyoncé's music and performances center on black womanhood and make mythology of the history of black women in America.
"My intention for the film and album was to give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history, to confront images that make us uncomfortable," Beyoncé said during her acceptance speech after winning the Grammy for best urban contemporary album. "It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty. So they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the Grammys, and see themselves and have no doubt that they are beautiful, intelligent and capable."
She doesn't need a #resist armband to signal the power to fight back. In a world where Leslie Jones endures harassment just for being a black woman on Twitter and Michelle Obama faces racist attack after racist attack, Beyoncé's performance is a powerful assertion of the inherent resistance that comes with being a black woman in America.
Last week, after her Super Bowl performance, Lady Gaga had equal parts detractors and supporters who quibbled over whether her performance "went there" in terms of sticking it to the Trump administration. That same question does not apply to Beyoncé, whose music works to decenter whiteness.
Beyoncé has been doing the work of raising political consciousness, snatching wigs and making sure those who experience her art stay woke. Which begs the question: have y'all been listening?