The Politics Behind Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella PerformanceVariety
Black schools matter.
Thatâs what BeyoncÃ© said,Â in so many words, throughout her Saturday night Coachella performance. It was no ordinary show when she stepped on stage wearing a dazzling band leader number before what has been one of her best performances ever.
Her show was replete with a long list of references to Americaâs historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The high-energy majorettes, marching band, step show and probate that were part of her show are all prominent on HBCU campuses across the U.S. It was âone band, one soundâ as 100 black band members danced while playing instruments typical to those at your average HBCU homecoming.
Her song selections also played a role in her tribute. During the show, BeyoncÃ© sang the “Black National Anthem (Lift Every Voice and Sing),â which represented a proud moment amid the NFL kneeling controversy. (The singer was the surprise presenter for Colin Kaepernick at last yearâs Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards in December.)
Among her many samples, âSwag Surfinââ by F.L.Y. also served as a salute to HBCUs. The 2009 song has been adopted as one of the most cherished traditions within the black college community and can be seen everywhere — from basketball and football games to parties and even graduation ceremonies.
— ð¹XII.VIII.MCMXCIVð¹ (@_ForevrBlushing) April 15, 2018
Throughout her serenading the crowd, BeyoncÃ© incorporated a skit showing a probate (or coming out ceremony) for her pledges similar to that of Black Greek letter organizations, which make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council at institutions around the country.
BeyoncÃ© was the dean of a line of âBug A Booâ pledges, who had to entertain her (which could be considered lighthearted hazing) and make elaborate introductions to the audience before becoming official members of her Beta Delta Kappa org. The traditional membership intake experience that BeyoncÃ© paid homage to can be seen in films like Spike Leeâs âSchool Dazeâ (1988), âStomp the Yardâ (2007), and most recently Netflixâs âBurning Sandsâ (2017).
— Mannie Mack Holmes (@MannieHolmes_) April 17, 2018
Her ode to the black college experience couldnât be any clearer after it was announced that BeyoncÃ© would donate $100,000 to four HBCUs for the 2018-2019 academic year through her BeyGOOD initiative.
If there was a main lesson from BeyoncÃ©âs 2018 performance, it was the cultural significance of Americaâs HBCUs — a message that should be heard loud and clear.