Dr. Yaba Blay’s take on Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’

“… I cringe when I hear her chant, “You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bamma” about her Alabama-born dad and her mom from Louisiana. This is the same reason I cringed at the L’Oreal ad that identified Beyonce  as African-American, Native American and French.”

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Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.colorlines.com


There is a fine line between affirming mixed race people and bashing mono-race people. 


I agree with Dr. Blay’s sentiment.


Bragging about being mixed race is akin to bragging about being mono-raced. Race is not a thing to be proud about. It is no accomplishment to be born. A person may prefer a certain skin color, but as Brenda says: Your preference is not preferable.



2 thoughts on “Dr. Yaba Blay’s take on Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’

  1. Sarah Sarita Ratliff February 10, 2016 / 10:20 am

    I had a different take from you, Dr. Blay. While Beyoncé may have brought up old hurts among New Orleanians, I do think her ultimate message was one of inclusiveness and being one with her darker complected brothers sisters.

    I live on an island not unlike New Orleans in the respect that Puerto Ricans are a mixture of west African (slaves), Taino (indigenous) and White (Spanish who originally colonized the island before the US, which still does).

    There are people here who are decidedly in two camps:
    — Those who vehemently reject the notion they are part Black, despite being darker than I am and straightening their hair
    — Those who proudly identify as equal parts of all three

    The first camp I reject out of hand and refuse to talk to. They’re closed-minded.

    The second camp are like me; they’re like my husband (who’s much darker than I am) and they’re like all of us: mixed, thanks to miscegenation. That my parents (my dad was White) took it a step further by mixing it up is a different story. I’m talking before that. Before that, Paul’s and my Black side is the same.

    I think Beyoncé is, yes, distinguishing herself, which is fine: she is who she is, but then she’s standing tall with her sisters and brothers.

    Let’s not forget that she’s chosen to marry a Black man and Jay Z ain’t exactly a Black man who denies who he is: he’s out and he’s proud. Say what you want about him or his music, but he’s not shying away from those conversations.

    Beyoncé chose him. She wasn’t coerced or naive. She not only chose him but she chose to have a baby with him and not relax her baby’s hair (much to the criticisms of many).

    She may have invoked her creole early on in the video by saying yes, this is who she comes from, but she sets it up from the jump when she says, “ya mix that negro with that creole…”

    She’s slamming the establishment by pointing out the self-hatred among them and the obvious, “I’m better than you because I am lighter with good hair,” among all light complected Black folks who deny they have the same roots as their darker complected brothers and sisters.

    Was Blue Ivy being sassy in the video? Was she as well? Yes, she reminds us who she is: a descendant of folks who think of themselves as better … but she has a transformation in the house and brings them all into her world and is now dancing with them.

    Darker complected Black slaves weren’t allowed in the house, don’t forget! She brought them in and that’s when she makes the switch and aligns with them.

    Like I say in my blog (http://sarahratliff.com/beyonces-formation-is-apparently-too-abstract-for-many/), folks be looking at this video and listening to the lyrics and either not getting the obvious connection or they’re seeing the two through the narrow lens of their own truth.

    This isn’t your truth, Dr. Blay. This is Beyoncé’s truth. And maybe I get it because as the only one of my parents’ kids who “passes” and who could easily get away with saying I’m White, I not only never once did, I have fought to see life through the eyes of the weary, tired, abused, angry and let’s not forget, proud Black person and I married one.

    No, Dr. Blay, you have it all wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Shannon Luders-Manuel February 10, 2016 / 8:04 am

    It’s really interesting… I read her article and didn’t read the lyrics or the video that way at all. It seems to me that everyone, myself included, is taking Formation in through their own experience and thus landing on contradictory analyses. I think it really speaks to the power of lyrics and imagery, that they are so subjective yet so powerful at the same time. I’m not from the South though, so my own analysis is through my a West coast lens, which might be too far removed to be accurate. Part of me thinks that I should forgo my feelings about Formation and follow hers instead, but, we all have our own realities, so I think it’s best for us to embrace what we see, while also accepting and understanding the viewpoints of others.

    Liked by 1 person

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