Framing Gov. Mark Dayton’s Beyonce Day

This past week, a host of online commenters expressed ire over Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to establish May 23 as Beyoncé Day.

The governor’s proclamation, which cited the singer’s positive influence on young women, came hours before she performed the Minneapolis leg of her Formation World Tour at TCF Bank Stadium. Beyoncé is the first woman to headline a Twin Cities stadium concert.

Nevertheless, online forums spawned disapproval, accusing Beyoncé’s latest opus, “Lemonade,” of promoting anti-police sentiment.

This isn’t the first time her work has courted controversy.

At the Super Bowl halftime show last February, the singer performed her song, “Formation,” with an empowering, trans-historical display of black solidarity — replete with allusions to the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X. 

Rudy Giuliani, former Republican presidential front-runner, declared the performance an “outrageous” affront to law enforcement, and Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, encouraged police agencies to boycott the singer’s upcoming tour. 

It’s amiss that Beyoncé’s celebration of African American history, her adoration of black womanhood and her articulation of police injustices have been misread as expressions of police hatred.

Interestingly, there was little censure when Dayton granted a similar commemorative day to the Rolling Stones — a band that has a discography that is unarguably problematic. Their 1971 track “Brown Sugar” sallies between topics of slavery and rape, and has been noted for its offensive portrayal of black women as nubile and submissive.

For Beyoncé, political provocation need not be offensive to be effective. If anything, Beyoncé Day ought to remind us that black, female voices are important, and demand to be heard.