In a rare interview, Beyoncé discussed the polarizing reaction to her recent “Formation” video and reconciling her support of police officers with a critique against police brutality. The singer spoke to Elle Magazine to support the launch of her new activewear collection Ivy Park, but touched on myriad subjects including her embrace as a feminist icon in recent years.
Following the video’s release and the singer’s Super Bowl appearance, police unions threatened to boycott the singer. “The fact that Beyoncé used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her antipolice message shows how she does not support law enforcement,” Javier Ortiz, the president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, wrote earlier this year.
“I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood,” Beyonce told Elle. “But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of the officers who sacrifice themselves to keeps us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I’m proud of what we created and I’m proud to be part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.”
The singer also discussed her decision to embrace her feminist side in recent years. “I’m not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it’s very simple. It’s someone who believes in equal rights for men and women,” she said. “I don’t understand the negative connotation of the word, or why it should exclude the opposite sex. If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist. We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world, and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes.
“Working to make … inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist,” she added. “I don’t like or embrace any label. I don’t want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that’s my one priority, over racism or sexism or anything else. I’m just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion — I feel that women have the same rights.”
In early February, Beyoncé released the new single “Formation,” hinting at a follow-up to her surprise-released 2013 self-titled album. She performed the single at Super Bowl 50 the day after its release, joining the halftime show headliners Coldplay and special guest Bruno Mars on stage. Immediately after the performance, she announced the Formation World Tour, which begins in Miami later this month.
Read the full interview at Elle.