Beyoncé’s “Formation” is an anthem for black women in the face of a lifetime and beyond of systemic racism, white supremacy, misogynoir and police brutality. She wrote and performed this song as a revolutionary act, filling its video and performances with imagery of black power and protest.
Amy Schumer put on a dirty nightgown and shook her ass to it in the forest.
Understandably, people weren’t happy.
Schumer has done a lot of good things for feminism. But she cannot seem to stop making it clear that her work is for “certain” feminists. White ones, specifically. By calling for unity, she is dismissing and silencing those who don’t stand with her. Those who don’t stand with her on this issue? Black women.
I love how in the lyrics of “Formation” Beyoncé is telling us to get in formation. And also I like to think she is telling us ladies to get information. I did not mean to detract any of the meaning from the video. I am of course horrified and sickened by the events that are addressed throughout that video and didn’t see this as minimizing that and still don’t. It was a way to celebrate bringing us all together. To fight for what we all want. And to do it together.
For starters Amy, Beyoncé isn’t telling *us* to get into formation. She’s not talking to you. She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to black women. Yes, all women do face misogyny and patriarchal issues on a daily basis. But to use white women’s experiences as the default or average is to dismiss so many many more women, women who aren’t privileged just by being white. That’s why writing off the wage gap as $0.77 to the dollar isn’t helpful—because that’s just for you and me, Amy. For black women, it’s $0.63. For Latina and Hispanic women, it’s $0.55. Or the idea that *women* got the right to vote in 1920. It’s not that simple. If we centered the experiences of women of color, it would help everyone. To only center our white experiences is to diminish, dismiss and detract from that which is necessary to make life better for all women.
The only “formation” we need to get in is the formation of standing with women of color, and not dismissing their experiences.
If you watched it and it made you feel anything other than good, please know that was not my intention. The movie we made is fun and the women in it are strong and want to help each other. That’s what it was about for me. Of course I had Beyoncé and Jay Z’s approval. They released it on Tidal exclusively for the first 24 hours.
I worked in public relations for my entire adult life until this year. I know the art of a public apology. The most important element is to actually understand what you’ve done that has upset people. Barring that, at least acknowledge you fucked up. To do neither of those things, to put the impetus on others for not understanding your lovely white intentions, that’s not an apology.
White women, we have to do better. This isn’t it.