Ole Miss forum talks Beyoncé video, ‘little children being murdered by police’

On Monday, the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement at Ole Miss held a “Formation Forum,” as part of Black History Month, where they discussed the Black Panthers, police brutality, and Beyoncé’s latest controversial song and music video, “Formation.”

The hour-long forum, audio of which was provided to Campus Reform by a student in attendance, began with a viewing of the “dirty” version of Beyoncé’s music video and a discussion of the images in the video which includes: a sinking cop car, a hooded black child dancing in front of police officers in riot gear, graffiti that reads, “stop shooting us,” and references to “hands up, don’t shoot.” was led by Alexandria White, assistant director of the Center.

Alexandria White, assistant director of the Center, asked attendees after the video to, “Tell me how that made you feel?” To which one forum goer replied, “liberated.”

White went on to address the controversy surrounding the song and video and asked for the audience's thoughts on it.

“Black Panthers is not a hate group. It’s a group created against hate groups,” a student replied, “[and] people bashing [Beyoncé] for her Black Panther imagery is their lack of information of the group itself.”

The discussion then moved to the image of a police car being submerged at the end of the video and the accompanying lyrics:

“My brother’s a police officer, a Chicago police officer. I have high respect for [them] but he tells me there’s crooked ones and some police officers understand that under that blue shield there is some crookedness,” White told the forum, “There are some who are trigger happy who want to shoot someone 16 times with no weapon on them.”

A forum goer replied to White by stating, “The video very accurately portrays what’s going on in society and specifically in New Orleans, post-Katrina. The police murdered black people there. They were shooting off a bridge at people down below, so I think [Beyoncé] put it nicely and the actual reality is far worse.”

White then spent time talking about colorism, the Jackson 5 altering their noses to look more European, and afros which she says, “European standards have told us that having an afro is bad.”

She then lists off the names of those who have been killed, not only by police, but by “white civilians,” and talks about the graffiti featured in the video that reads, “Stop shooting us.”

One forum goer said that they think it’s funny that the graffiti says, “Stop shooting us,” because, “Jordan Davis wasn’t shot by a police officer, he was actually shot by a white civilian. I think it’s very important for us to recognize it doesn’t say, ‘Police, stop killing us and stop shooting us,’ it says, ‘Stop shooting us.’ She’s very intentional about those words she put there and the imagery. I think she was speaking very specifically to police brutality.”

Another forum goer took it further and added, “Continuation of state-sanctioned violence against black women, black queer, black LGBT community...it’s a continuation of state-sanctioned violence against our people in general, and we do have many black men being killed...It’s a total decimation of people.”

He went on to say that they are, “Not just shooting us, but wholesale killing through systematically not providing goods, medication, healthcare services in general...Little children are being killed by the police in general. They didn’t ask to be killed and involved in that, but somehow they are.”

The student who provided the audio told Campus Reform that, “The thought that America engages in “state-sanctioned violence” against any of its citizens is absurd.”

The topic then turned to the Super Bowl halftime show with one forum goer saying that the reason there is so much controversy with Beyoncé’s performance and her backup dancers clad in Black Panther inspired costumes is because it “scares them.”

“You got people eating chicken wings and hot sauce and sodas, just doing what middle America would be doing during a football game. And here they are presented with this imagery and message that, ‘Whoa we’re used to seeing Britney Spears lipsyncing or whoever...and here I am faced with something that I’m uncomfortable with,’” he said.

New York representative Peter King took to Facebook after the halftime show to condemn Beyoncé’s performance and song saying, “The mainstream media's acceptance of her pro-Black Panther and anti-cop video "Formation" and her Super Bowl appearance is just one more example of how acceptable it has become to be anti-police when it is the men and women in blue who put their lives on the line for all of us and deserve our strong support.”

The backlash continues today in New York with protesters throwing an anti-Beyoncé rally at NFL Headquarters with an anti-anti Beyoncé rally formed in response.

In closing the forum, White told students they, too, need to get in formation and have self-pride.

“How many of you have taken an African American class?” White asked, “That’s not everybody, that’s not everybody. How many of you have researched books such as Souls of Black Folks, Miseducation of the Negro...if you don’t know who these people are you are graduating but you are not educated.”

White says she’s encouraged by hearing that people are researching the Black Panther party.

“That’s great, that’s wonderful don’t stop there. We hear more about Doctor King than Malcolm X, but I’m a little bit more Malcolm X than Doctor King.”

She went on to say that students, faculty and staff need to press the envelope and make people feel uncomfortable, “I plan to get a shirt that says, ‘I’m here to make you uncomfortable.’ Because that is how we grow as intellects, we ask questions and we resist authority.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @brianledtke