Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Monday, February 08, 2016

Beyoncé Does an Action at Halftime


At yesterday's Super Bowl Beyoncé stole the show with her halftime performance.  The New South Negress carries a piece by zandria that shares the deep meaning of 'Formation', the new song by Beyoncé. Below is an excerpt from that article.

We Slay, Part I
By zandria

The articulation of southern blackness here invites us to theorize black resistance practices. There is the expressive resistance that stands and fights and brandishes guns and stages coups. There is the quiet resistance, the meditative kind that Kevin Quashie talks about. For Ralph Ellison’s protagonist in Invisible Man, it is hibernation, the act of a particular kind of invisibility, that is a “covert preparation for a more overt action.”

Formation, is a different kind of resistance practice, one rooted in the epistemology of (and sometimes only visible/detectable to) folks on the margins of blackness. The political scientist Cathy Cohen talks about activism at these margins, the kind of deviance-as-resistance built and cultivated at the margins of respectable blackness. Formation, then, is a metaphor, a black feminist, black queer, and black queer feminist theory of community organizing and resistance. It is a recognition of one another at the blackness margins–woman, queer, genderqueer, trans, poor, disabled, undocumented, immigrant–before an overt action. For the black southern majorettes, across gender formulations, formation is the alignment, the stillness, the readying, the quiet, before the twerk, the turn-up, the (social) movement. To be successful, there must be coordination, the kind that choreographers and movement leaders do, the kind that black women organizers do in neighborhoods and organizations. To slay the violence of white supremacist heteropatriarchy, we must start, Beyoncé argues, with the proper formation. The proper formation is, she contends, made possible by the participation and leadership of a blackness on the margins. The celebration of the margins–black bodies in motion, women’s voices centered, black queer voices centered–is what ultimately vanquishes the state, represented by a NOPD car. Beyoncé as the conjured every-southern-black-woman, slays atop the car and uses the weight of her body to finish it off, sacrificing herself in the process. Like so, so, so many black folks in the margins in the movement for (all) black (lives matter for) liberation. This formation is brought to you by conjure.

“Formation” is an homage to and recognition of the werk of the “punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens” in these southern streets and parking lots, in these second lines, in these chocolate cities and neighborhoods, in front of these bands and drumlines. Movements for black liberation are led by black folks at the margins who know we must all get free to sink that car. Folks who know that we must be coordinated, and we must slay. And because I recognize black southern country fence-jumping feminism as a birthright and imperative, I have no tolerance for the uncoordinated–those who cannot dance and move for black queer liberation, black trans liberation, black women’s liberation, at all intersections.

Southern blackness is back, as Messy Mya said, by popular demand. But if you magic, you know we was always here, slaying, which is what we came to do. Ready? Okay.

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