The politics behind Beyonce’s storming Coachella 2018 set
Beyonce used her Coachella headlining set to serve an inspiring lesson in black history, which made perfect sense giving that her appearance was symbolic: she was the festival’s first ever black headline performer.
Beyonce’s ambitious set is being lauded as the best and most energetic Coachella has seen, and was typically maximal, from the abundant costume changes to rumours of nail polish switch-ups midway through.
Injected throughout Bey’s glamorous performance were serious lessons from history. Beyonce’s key message was: black schools matter.
Historically black colleges and universities
Beyonce’s visually miraculous set featured a marching band, accompanying majorette dancers and a percussive-dancing step band, all of which are synonymous with campus culture at America’s historically black colleges and universities.
Straight after her set, Bey announced she’d donate $100,000 to HBCU (historically black colleges) as part of her BeyGOOD scheme.
The scheme features a Homecoming Scholars Award Programme for the forthcoming academic year, and four American black colleges were chosen to receive funds.
The 36-year-old trailblazer had more on her mind than just a big aesthetic show, channeling her performance into action.
Beyonce’s live band comprised 100 black members who danced while playing in a ceremonial way that is similar to the homecoming traditions laid on for black university students.
A university homecoming is the tradition of welcoming back former students of a college to campus with live performance, music and dancing.
Beyonce’s track list was politically-charged. Alongside the bangers, she included ‘black national anthem’ “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and a sample of “Swag Surfin’” by F.L.Y.
“Swag Surfin'” is something of an anthem for the black college community.
It can be heard playing at graduation ceremonies, sports games and everything in-between.
“Swag Surfin’” was the 2009 debut of hip hop group Fast Life Yungstaz, and features an iconic dance which is re-created when the track is played out.
Elsewhere in the set, Bey featured samples of Nina Simone records and quotes from civil rights activist Malcolm X, alongside feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
A nod to fraternity culture
During another segment, Bey had 9 male dancers line up and prove their worth before they could be welcomed into her fraternity.
Each had to appeal to Queen Bey before they could cross the line in a kind of probate, where prospective new fraternity members present themselves to seniors.
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The Nineties and Naughties American girl group ran through hit singles “Lose My Breath”, “Say My Name” and “Soldier” as they rose from a platform back-to back in a reference to their formation in feminist hit, “Independent Women Part 1.”
The group were an emblem of equality and diversity, and their track “Independent Women Part 1” became cherished by millions of black women.
Despite group member Michelle Williams claiming no knowledge of a reunion last December, it made sense for Beyonce’s former band mate to be involved in the show as she’s been exercising her voice on black rights recently.
“Black lives don’t seem to matter right now,” Michelle Williams told Matt Baker and Brenda Emmanus of BBC’s The One Show.
Speaking about recent gun violence in the US Michelle added: “At the moment people are aware, people are waking up, people are trying top figure out what is the next move to bring peace.
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“We know there needs to be peace but it goes beyond just tweeting about it, Instagramming about it, there is a movement going on and people want every life to matter.”
“We do know our lives matter but for some reason, specifically when it comes to what we’ve been seeing at home with interaction with police it just seems like black lives don’t matter right now.”
Following the concert Michelle posted on Instagram: “MY GIRLS!!!! Tonight couldn’t have been more magical!!! ❤️ .”