When A Beyoncé Concert Becomes A Battleground Of Cultural Appropriation

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/REX.
Here's a scene out of every Black Beyoncé fan's worst nightmare: We're dancing in our freakum dresses, basking in the glory of Yoncé's light, until a white fan is a little too eager to join in on Formation's celebration of Black femininity. Bey can sing about liking her "negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils" because she has them, and bears the cultural and historic weight of this identity. As for the blonde in the seat next to you? Not so much.

This narrative is shared often online, it turns out, with Black fans reporting feeling displaced at shows for artists that celebrate Black identity. Tumblr user demho3zhatinq was candid about the suspicious looks shot her away during Bey's Formation World Tour. "The formation tour was torture for me," the user wrote. "Surrounded by white girls that would stare you down while having cornrows, grillz, Bantu knots, dressed up in bomber jackets. It was a headache. Some would sing along with 'negro nose,' and '[racial slur].' In a space that was for me, simply wasn’t."

Other fans have echoed that sentiment on Twitter:
Advertisement
Fans have reported the same feelings at Kanye West concerts:
Beyoncé's work is often a battleground for these discussions about race, privilege, and culture because the musician has such a singular importance to Black women. Lemonade teaches Black women to love their Black bodies, "Becky with the good hair" is rooted in slavery and the historic devaluing of Black women. Even the title of 2013's "Mrs. Carter Tour" was a nod to debunking stereotypes about unmarried Black women (an important stance that some people missed).

The buzzword for this discussion is "access." When white fans call cornrows "boxer braids" or use the n-word, Black women — the very people Bey glorifies in her music — are often denied their ownership in this legacy.

Everyone can praise and worship at Beyoncé's holy church of slay. However, make no mistake that the queen engages with the specific racial history of the identity politics she pulls from.
Advertisement

More from Pop Culture

The Final Five are national treasures. They're basically a collection of perfect, perfectly happy humans. And who wouldn't be, especially after turning in ...
Earlier this week, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts announced their separation, ending their 11-year relationship. Their split tears at our freshly mended ...
Nick Jonas has already gone solo musically, but it seems he'd now like to do the same in his personal life. The single JoBro told Los Angeles ...
Jeb Bush has been a Florida governor and a presidential candidate. His latest gig? Comedian, apparently. In an opening sketch for the Emmys, Jimmy ...
Justin Bieber's presence is requested in Florida, but, unfortunately for him, not by his fans. According to TMZ, a judge has ordered Bieber to come back...
Another week of Fantasy Football means another week of triumph, or in my case, heartbreak. My team, Good Better Besser, lost again this week. And to add ...
Single? Find yourself a John Legend. The man knows exactly what to say when his wife, model and social media guru Chrissy Teigen is brought up. In his ...
Justin Theroux is one year into his union with Jennifer Aniston, and he's happily married. His secret to success: kindness. The Girl on the Train star ...
Jennifer Garner's most important alias of the past decade has definitely been her role as a mother. The 44-year-old has three children (Violet, 10, ...
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna aren't broken up after all, y'all. They just are a experimenting with living in separate homes until the baby arrives, ...
Kim Kardashian West was assaulted on the street in Paris yesterday by Vitalii Sediuk. The serial celebrity stalker grabbed Kardashian's leg and tried to ...
We can't keep track anymore. First Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris were together. Then they broke up and Taylor started dating Tom Hiddleston while Calvin ...
Are you sick of hearing about the Taylor Swift-Kimye feud? Yeah, so is Kim Kardashian. The reality star and business mogul has had tension with Swift ...
As her husband Jay Z likes to remind us, "B.K. is from Texas." It's fitting, then, that Beyoncé's home state is paying homage to her groundbreaking work...