The Key Messages In Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ on Black Lives & Feminism

Beyonce, Formation


Feb. 6 2016, Published 4:08 p.m. ET

Share to XShare to FacebookShare via EmailShare to LinkedIn

We all speculated which songs Beyoncé would perform tomorrow during the Coldplay headlined Super Bowl 50 halftime show. The duet between Coldplay and Beyoncé on “Hymn for the Weekend” was an obvious choice but we all knew that couldn’t be it.

Earlier this afternoon, we got our answer. Beyoncé pulled a 2013 move and dropped “Formation,” a surprise single and video that has enough one liners to last us until the end of time.

Shot and directed by Melina Matsoukas in New Orleans, ‘Formation’ gave us dope choreography, high end fashion, and flawless cinematography. On top of it all, we think HuffPo Black Voices summed it up best when they said quite simply it’s “#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ and ‪#‎BlackGirlMagic‬ rolled into one.”

This video is filled with classy arrogance mixed with unapologetic blackness that we simply cannot get enough of.

Here are some key moments from the “Formation” video that we all need to recognize and apply to our lives.

Black. Lives. Matter.

stop shooting_giphy

The symbolism was so undeniable in this video, you would have to be blind to miss it. Beyoncé and her husband are often criticized for being some of the world’s biggest stars but not speaking out on social injustice towards the Black community. Since she’s not much of a speaker, Beyoncé uses her art to get her message across on where she stands on these issues loud and clear.

Article continues below advertisement

Hurricane Katrina

Beyonce New Orleans Formation

Over 10 years later and New Orleans is still suffering from the damage Hurricane Katrina left behind. The hurricane killed over 1,800 people with more than 700  still not accounted for. 15 million people were affected in different ways and although the storm is a dark part of New Orleans history, they strive to make their home what it once was. But let us never forget that this indeed happened on US soil. *cues Kanye West’s voice clip, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people*


gif via the wrap beyonce formation black lives matter ferguson gif

After the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, the city of Ferguson, Missouri began to protest and riot. The unrest sparked debates, protests, and riots throughout the country about the relationship between law enforcement and African Americans. In Beyonce’s video, the visual of the young boy dancing in front of a line of policemen causing them to raise their hands is powerful. We all remember the image that emerged during the protests of the young boy standing in front of a line of officers in military gear. Remembering this image and seeing this care free young boy in Formation, coupled with the graffiti on the wall saying “Stop Shooting Us” symbolizes loud and clear black lives do matter.

Article continues below advertisement

Unapologetically Black and Great


Black people have always had to strive to be great but remain humble to be widely accepted by the masses. Cam Newton has been scrutinized lately for being too outspoken and too arrogant although he has the skills and record to go with it. Beyoncé used her lyrics to state that she’s no longer submitting to how others think she should live her life.

“I like my baby hair with baby hair and afros…

It has never been a secret that Bey adores everything about her daughter, Blue Ivy. Back in 2014, Critics started a petition for Jay Z and Beyoncé to take better care of their daughter’s hair, making statements such as “Because no child who’s mom spends thousands on her hair (monthly) should live life looking like a sheep!” Singer India Arie and actress Viola Davis, two black women who have been scrutinized about their hair before, wrote open letters standing up for Blue Ivy and little Black girls around the world that are learning to accept their natural locks. Blue Ivy continues to rock her afro like the care free black girl that she is.

Article continues below advertisement


“I might just be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay.”

Article continues below advertisement

This statement is powerful because in 2016, Black women still face greater barriers in the tech and entrepreneurship space than any other group. The #DianeProject just released a report revealing only 11 Black women led startups have raised $1MM or more in outside funding since 2012. Often, outside funding is needed to launch or scale a venture.

So, this lyric from Beyoncé is not simply about name dropping, it’s making a statement. First, she says, “…you might just be a Black Bill Gates in the making.” Initially, she is referring to her partner, a male. Then, in the next line she says, “I might just be a Black Bill Gates in the making.” When she switches the focus on herself, it creates the image of a Black woman at the helm of an innovative technology company. Sadly, this isn’t an image we see often. We hope this is a nod to the fact that she’s looking to become an investor in the tech world, because, we desperately need more Black women to invest in the next generation of women entrepreneurs.

Article continues below advertisement



“I dream it, I work hard. I grind ’til I own it…

You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation. Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”

Again, here she is reinforcing ownership, working hard, and the power of money as a tool.


gif via The Wrap Beyonce Formation

“Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation.”

Essentially, we take this as none other than coming together in the name of sisterhood. Let’s help and support each other. All this unrest and injustice is happening around us but let’s work hard, own our own sh*t, and just look amazing doing it, together.

Need I say more? Oh, watch the video below if you haven’t yet:

Article continues below advertisement

PS. If you’re interested in joining a group of #GirlBosses supporting each other on this journey to success, Her Agenda has started one. Join it, here. 

join the agenda
Source: [gifs via Giphy and The Wrap]

Ambition Delivered.

Our weekly email newsletter is packed with stories that inspire, empower, and inform, all written by women for women. Sign up today and start your week off right with the insights and inspiration you need to succeed.

By: Tiffany Stewart

Tiffany is a young storyteller born in Jamaica and raised in New York. Whether through contributing to online editorial publications, digital streaming services, or televised programming, Tiffany's goal is to display the various facets of Black culture on every level. She plans to evoke emotions through her writing and educate and uplift consumers in a healthy yet realistic manner. She graduated from St. John's University, where she studied Communication Arts, and then The New School, where she earned her Master's in Media Studies. She relocated to Los Angeles in 2019 to pivot her career towards scripted television. Outside of contributing to HerAgenda for the past eight years, you can enjoy her work on theGrio as well as HBO Max, Netflix, NBC, and Peacock. No matter how many accomplishments she has under her belt, Tiffany considers herself a student for life with an unwavering passion for using her voice as a catalyst for women everywhere. You can experience her journey through @astoldbytiffy across social media platforms.

Latest The Main Agenda News and Updates

    Link to InstagramLink to FacebookLink to XLinkedIn IconContact us by Email

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    Black OwnedFemale Founder