Beyoncé Brings Black Power To Coachella

BY NIAIA BOSTON

Undeniable kinetic energy arises after witnessing a Beyoncé performance. Not only does she deliver, but she continues to outdo herself every single time, leaving viewers wanting more and proving that she is her only competition. Such was the case at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last Saturday night when she returned to the stage after a nearly year-long hiatus.  

Backed by dancers posed as HBCU majorettes, drumline, and orchestra the Houston native proudly celebrated the beauty of black culture as the festival’s first black woman to headline for the predominately white crowd. Her presence was known rather quickly for anyone who may have overlooked the fact that Beyoncé brought life itself to the middle of the Indio desert.

Image Source, Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Image Source, Larry Busacca/Getty Images

She started the night with a stunning rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (commonly known as the black national anthem) weaved through her own song “Freedom.” A song of triumph despite, struggle, and would continue to dominate the night with her most popular and recognizable hits: “Crazy In Love,” “Deja Vu,” and “Drunk In Love.” Songs like F.L.Y.’s “Swag Surfin,” “Everybody Mad” by O.T. Genasis, and Nina Simone’s “Lilac Wine” also interspersed throughout the setlist.   

Beyoncé’s own mother, Ms. Tina, expressed her initial concern with her daughter’s decision to make her show as black and proud as possible for such an audience. She revealed in a post on Instagram, “I was afraid that the predominately white audience at Coachella would be confused by all of the black culture and black college culture because it was something that they might not get.” This apprehensiveness is understandable considering the backlash and violence black people are often met with for being too loud, too proud, dressing in a certain manner, or for simply existing. Sticking to the code of respectability politics that urges black people to shrink there blackness to accommodate white sensibility would’ve been far easier. But, if there is anything we’ve learned about Beyoncé throughout her 20-year career is that she is undeterred and proud of who she is and where she comes from.   

Without a doubt, Beyoncé calmed her mother’s fears stating, “I have worked very hard to get to the point where I have a true voice and at this point in my life and my career I have a responsibility to do what’s best for the world and not what is most popular.”

Image Source,  Raven B. Varona

Image Source, Raven B. Varona

But this wasn’t just a moment to celebrate blackness in all of its complexity and glory. It was an opportunity for Beyoncé to recenter the conversation of black womanhood. A stand battle between her female background dancers and the Bugaboos. Check. A Destiny’s Child reunion making them the first girl-group to perform at Coachella. Check. Malcolm X proclaiming: “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman” from his speech, Who Taught You To Hate Yourself? Also featured on her rock-anthem “Don’t Hurt Yourself” where she confronts her cheating husband. Check.

As Beyoncé grows as an artist, so does her ability to go above and beyond what is expected to give the world what it didn’t know it desperately needed.