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Y’all are going to hate me, but Beyoncé’s glorification of the Black Panthers is antiBlack woman

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Warning: Y’all are going to hate me and it is OK. I just have a different opinion and that’s OK too.

 

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on


Look, I love me some Black girl power and I love me some Beyoncé however, my only problem with Beyoncé’s half time show that I didn’t watch was her glorification of the Black Panthers.


Unlike those who won’t say the truth, I will. For all the Black Panther’s good, like the breakfast programs, after school programs, self defense and other things, the Black Panthers were extremely colorist even though they claimed to hate White supremacy. They were extremely misogynistic. Some even beat up women in the BP’s like Regina Davis. Ms. Davis had the nerve to challenge a male colleague and Huey Newton, their leader, supported Davis’ abusers. That’s not proBlack.

According to Elaine Brown’s A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story (affiliate link) in an article by Socialism.com

“She reports that she was finally goaded into action when Regina Davis, who managed the Panthers’ highly praised school, ended up in the hospital. “The Brothers” had beaten Davis up and broken her jaw because she reprimanded a male colleague for not carrying out an assignment.

Brown writes that when she told Newton of her anger over the attack, he refused to break solidarity with the men, challenging her to a debate in the Central Committee.” Read more here.

You see the Black Panthers weren’t as progressive as many people think. Just like in every Black civil rights movement, in the Panthers, Black women did the work while Black men got the praise. If those examples aren’t shocking enough, one of the leaders of the BPs was Eldridge Cleaver. Cleaver was a serial rapist who bragged about raping Black women and girls for practice.

From Cleaver himself:
“I became a rapist. To refine my technique and modus operandi, I started out by practicing on black girls in the ghetto — in the black ghetto where dark and vicious deeds appear not as aberrations or deviations from the norm, but as part of the sufficiency of the Evil of the day — and when I considered myself smooth enough, I crossed the tracks and sought out white prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically — though looking back I see that I was in a frantic, wild and completely abandoned frame of mind.

“Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women — and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge.” – NYTimes.com

This was the Black Panthers you never heard about. This is the Black Panthers people ignore.

Black women who know this and still support this aren’t surprising. Black women who still cheered on Beyoncé’s Black fist aren’t surprising. Who can blame us? We’re hungry for any old positive image even if it is a lie. And if it means watching and sacrificing our daughters bodies for the Black man’s cause in the name of faux proBlack unity, history shows we’ll celebrate it. For me Blackness does not mean praising an antiBlack woman organization and loving your Blackness doesn’t mean ignoring the truth. Loving Blackness means loving and protecting all Blackness. That includes Black women.

I wasn’t going to post this because other Black women said it already, but I felt like their voices were being drowned out and it needed to be repeated. Before y’all even suggest it, this isn’t Beyoncé hate. She’s a brilliant business woman who I admire. I know she meant well and I love Black people, especially Black women loving ourselves. I’m simply pointing out a historical fact. Even after that I told you y’all was going to hate me. So be it. I still love y’all.

The only limit you have is the one you have placed on yourself. Think and be limitless.

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34 comments

  1. Chay86 8 February, 2016 at 19:39 Reply

    This is a fair criticism. I think at this point, their sexism is pretty common knowledge. The realities of what Black women went through in that movement are coming to light every day so you’d have to be living under a rock to not know the deal. But I think the fact that she had only women dancers and no men dancers could also be a way of paying homage to the Black women in the Black Panther movement (though in a shallow but still exciting way) who have been overlooked despite making up the majority of the party.

  2. Shak 8 February, 2016 at 19:41 Reply

    Wow (Newton sure didn’t talk about that in his book ‘Revolutionary Suicide’). I’m glad you dropped this knowledge on me. It’s just so heartbreaking to, as a black woman, constantly have to be on guard and wonder who really has your back (without wanting anything in return). When can we exhale?

    • Sani 9 February, 2016 at 23:14 Reply

      You should check out Elaine Brown’s “A Taste of Power.” Great read that will give you more insight into sexism in the BP Party.

  3. Jacque 8 February, 2016 at 20:35 Reply

    Um…sweet heart…..you can exhale. …NOW!
    Knowledge is power….take it in….use it
    Move on….we got this….really we do

  4. Jeff 8 February, 2016 at 20:49 Reply

    Black feminists like Pat Hill Collins write about issues with sexism and the black power movements. So certainly, there are problematic issues.

    But the quote she uses by Eldridge Cleaver comes from his book where he was writing about how the black Panthers stopped him from being that man.

    Kinda feels like you’re unfairly putting this at the feet of Beyonce…

    • REGI' TROULLIER 8 February, 2016 at 21:39 Reply

      I see the bbg position as one I frequently see in the black community. Our young do not learn their history. We should not embrace an individual, or group or theory that does not honor us in the individual’s actions be the person black or not. Blacks frequently embrace other blacks that engage in horrible behavior towards us, and frequently the younger blacks hold the person up as a symbol of righteousness because they do not know the whole truth. As for Mr. Cle’ to claim that white America did something horrid to black women, and thus you practiced that very act on black girls to perfect your skill is a psychosis and self hate that defy logic. In no universe would his actions at any stage allows me to honor him. His efforts to explain his behavior… disgusting. We do not have to forgive horrible people because they are black! They should be the ones protecting us. Beyonce is just an entertainer.

  5. King 8 February, 2016 at 22:06 Reply

    I never knew about this. Thank you for shedding light and thank you for giving a thoughtful critique of Beyonce’s performance and not attempting to belittle her or the statement she made.

  6. Kay 8 February, 2016 at 22:22 Reply

    I too love Beyonce. I don’t think her performance using women to rep the Panthers is anti woman at all. One can support the movement (Blk Panthers a) and not be okay with who Cleaver was.

  7. Ford 8 February, 2016 at 22:28 Reply

    White Liberals(Supremacist) have enlisted Black Feminist and Blacks of the LGBT community as there first line of defense when it comes to dissipating the energy of Black Nationalism. Be Aware

  8. Nia Milner 8 February, 2016 at 23:45 Reply

    Y’all tend to forget that over 2/3 of panthers were women. Yes– all the stories of sexism in the party are valid but the Black Panther party was MADE of woemen. Don’t push their legacy to the side. Women ran the chapters. Women wrote the 10 point plan. Corrupt male leadership existed within the party, yes. But it was as much a women’s movement as it could be.

  9. Dennis James 9 February, 2016 at 00:00 Reply

    You are reaching. We know the panthers had sexism issues, so did the civil rights movement and any other movement around and before that time. Maybe we should not honor anything at all.

  10. Ashley 9 February, 2016 at 01:23 Reply

    I don’t agree with this think piece at all. The author was reachingggggg. Yes, the COSTUME that was chosen, most likely meticulously, to resemble the Black Panther movement was yet again just something done to put impact on what she was saying in case people didn’t catch it in the lyrics or in the music video itself. If anyone saw the movie, Chiraq, the females in the movie wore the exact same costumes several times throughout the movie. Are we not supposed to feel empowered or happy that, finally, someone who people may have forgotten is A Black Woman, is finally standing up and making a statement about what’s going on in the world.

    This author shouldn’t be “hated” though, because everyone and their momma is writing a think piece on this, and this woman is just trying to get noticed for being “different”. You would get that right away just off of her title and opening statements.

  11. Sir Sally 9 February, 2016 at 04:54 Reply

    Sad…..you people have no concept of time…….or how spells (programing) works . This was most men….Most to today…………

  12. Vanessa 9 February, 2016 at 05:42 Reply

    I don’t hate you for this! This is necessary! Everything you said was spot on. The image of the Black Panthers is powerful, yet their politics were flawed, violent, and oppressive towards black women. The fact that we don’t have as many strong representations of what black female power looks like is a huge problem. That forces us to use “the next best thing” so to speak, or at least one that will resonate the loudest.
    Again, thanks for this piece! It opens up a conversation that needs to be had.

  13. Sosie05 9 February, 2016 at 06:22 Reply

    You are completely missing the point that by co-opting the image and re-presenting it with women only it becomes revolutionary and empowering for women. Especially because of some of the marginalization that occurred. It’s sad that most people do not have the capacity to look beneath the surface and critically analyze.

  14. Linia White 9 February, 2016 at 10:27 Reply

    Im always just on the verge of unfollowing you…I think this perspective will do it. Not because the issues raised with the movement are not valid… It’s because of the anti black, hatred of black males I find deeply rooted in your posts. The fact that you date white men is always amplified when I read your post.

    Ill say this… There is no black organization or group in this country that is not functioning… Within major dysfunction. Rich or poor…male or female. We are a psychologically destroyed people… From Malcolm to Martin to Marcus to Regina to Umar to you name it.

    The crab in the barrel implanted inside of us will never allow us to see the big picture and shape and form our own history and propaganda as necessary. We just don’t get it. Rape and mysoginy is horrible and unspeakable… But is it brought to the forefront in our enemies history books or our enemies glorification of their victories??

    Presidents, civil war generals, senators… White, murdering rapists for sure… Lived lives more disdainful than we could ever imagine… But their legacies live on as heroic and essential to American culture because the crackers propoganda machine understands the necessity on a much broader scale and demands to have it so.

    Smh. The small minded black man hater who goes to bed with a white supremacist every night will never understand why this message in her platform does more hurt than good.

    propoganda was never about truth you moron.

    The black panther MOVEMENT should live on as everything positive that it represents and can inspire …not the dysfunctional INDIVIDUALS. Niggas and flies..sheesh

  15. Bridget Sermon 9 February, 2016 at 10:54 Reply

    I understand what you’re saying. I think during that time frame, a LOT of men hit women. It’s vile and inexcusable, but they were still slapping women in the face, in movies in the 60s, like it was nothing. I think our culture has come a long way and that the horrors of abuse against women that took place in the struggle were symptomatic of a disease that was pretty pervasive and commonplace at the time – and not unique to the black community or the Panthers. General male dominance was, sadly, the order of the day.

  16. Beverly Johnson-Godette 9 February, 2016 at 12:16 Reply

    I respect all of your comments – may not agree completely but I get it. I understand the original post and all that came with it but do agree that Beyonce was celebrating womanhood and all that comes with it – I will never down the Panthers for some of their misogynistic ways – sign of the times – tell me what men weren’t like that back then – doesn’t make it right but it’s true – I applaud Beyonce for taking it where I actually never thought she would. I’m also happy about how angry, outraged, happy and sad it made people – that means everyone is talking and that could only be a good thing.

  17. Nicky 9 February, 2016 at 13:05 Reply

    Sadly, while black people are in the throes of celebrating black power and black images, I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority when I have to ask in the middle of all this black pride, why it doesn’t extend beyond the brown paper bag “”image” of us? Some of us are still fighting racial inequality among our own people, and it can get difficult to feel black and proud when your “negro” features are celebrated but not your skin tone. Just sayin’.

    • REGI' TROULLIER 9 February, 2016 at 20:05 Reply

      You are so very correct, and the sadness is unbearable for so many young sisters. I watched this treatment towards young women most of my life; and frequently it was visited on the young girls by their own families. “Bag brown” is more commercial, so it is where women frequently flock to feel significant. We have got to take control of our future as a collective. We cannot wait for any man – not white or brown. This conversation has so many brilliant, talented and wonderful women commenting – a lot of whom I might not fully agree with – but will fight for your right to disagree. Stay strong my Sistas!

  18. Rosemary 9 February, 2016 at 21:55 Reply

    It says a lot about a sport when all anyone can talk about are the commercials and halftime, I am sure that was Beyonce’s intent…to shock people into discussions about “her” passions…its just an artist’s interpretation, afterall, not the Gospel truth…it’s what SHE believes and her handlers decided would be the most important thing of the day to bring attention to…the fact that it slapped others in the face was beside the point…I think she wanted to let them know how it felt to be disregarded even when you’re doing nothing wrong..as many blacks feel…I still haven’t seen her act or the game or the commercials and don’t plan to….but I heard about her show… and that, my friends, is a successful business woman, no matter how you look at it…she got her message out to the world…the explosion on social media…that’s a WIN for her…when you can get heard over the Superbowl and it’s commercials…well, it says a lot…esp about how dull that game must have been. Let her vent I say, it’s why we have freedom of speech, you don’t have to agree…or like it but she has her right to express it…

  19. Michael 9 February, 2016 at 23:01 Reply

    The ugliness of the behavior is dipped in the times….
    So …no jail time for allegedly raping black women. ….
    Or white women….the stories were more complex. …
    Young bucks need to stop being so easily pushed off the track…..
    In philly they were attacked with bullets …across the country we got reports of them being attacked with fatal shootouts…
    After King was killed ..it’s said. That an ambush was enacted against several pathers in a car driving….
    You should be very scared …yes very,very afraid if you actually understood what these …panthers stood up to….
    I guess we needed some animalistic men to go up against some animalistic men…
    Fire with fire…
    Do more research. ….
    Before you disrespect the horoes of the seventies…
    Presidents got shot on live tv…
    Malcolm got shot…, King….King’s father…..
    You wanna run with jfake piety….to the pious….u no no thing much

  20. professormegan 10 February, 2016 at 02:09 Reply

    I read all of the comments here, and as usual, there are several of you excusing Cleaver’s crimes (rape of black women) and/or the Panther’s sexism as “a sign of the times” or something we should overlook because whites overlook the undesirable traits of their “heroes”. What I think may be worse is that some of these comments are coming from black women, whom I can only assume are male-identified. The comments are a reminder of why black women/girls need feminism/womanism, why black male-identified women should be viewed with the same disdain as any man who hates black women, and also–in part– why I agree with the author’s contention…you cannot use my labor to benefit everyone but me, and then slap me in the face when I expect a modicum of reciprocity. I don’t understand how any self-respecting black women can honor “men” like the Panthers.

  21. R. Gardner 10 February, 2016 at 18:54 Reply

    Thanks so much for making sure everyone knows that above all the wonderfully brave and revolutionary things the Black Panthers did on behalf of the black community, THEY WEREN’T PERFECT. When you get right down to it. .. none of us are. Thanks again! !!

  22. Lady A 12 February, 2016 at 04:39 Reply

    I’m glad Bougie Black girl spoke about this. I’m happy there are black women from that era who spoke about the open misogyny and sexism within many pro-black movements.
    Black women were stuck and still are stuck between a hard place and a rock. The black community wants us to put our race before our gender, we can’t separate being black from being a woman.

    Black women shouldn’t have to confine our voices and tolerate abuse for the sake of solidarity. It doesn’t work to have one half of the community suffering while the other half gets all of the coddling and reaps the benefit of liberation.
    You can’t force black women to hide this portion of a flawed movement within the community for the sake of making ourselves look good in the eyes of the enemy. A community that abuses the women and children, never prosper and that’s what you’re seeing now, a broken community that continues to belittle the women and children.

    The fight against racism is not a patriarchal, stop making it about men vs. men and then at the same time telling black women to be loyal to the community. You can’t ignore the women but then expect us to ride or die, that’s extremely abusive.

    What I find interesting is how we hate white people but we copy the very misogynistic, sexist, and patriarchal structures racist white men used for centuries to oppress humanity. I don’t want to replace white patriarchy with black patriarchy. I don’t want trickle down liberation by waiting until we get done with black men first and the women get the left overs. Stop centering black liberation around black men only, last time I checked black women are black too. And telling black women to “shhhhh” for the sake of solidarity proves the community cares very little about the women.

    The black panthers movement was very problematic towards black women and shedding light on it, needs to happen.

  23. gwoman 12 February, 2016 at 06:58 Reply

    Thank you for this. I read Ms. Brown’s book several years ago. I appreciate the information and support you and other young pro Black women bloggers are giving us. My granddaughters and daughters benefit from you. I regret the absence of similar sources for older Black women. I’m very grateful for what you provide.

  24. loveandpeace 9 March, 2016 at 12:08 Reply

    Eldridge Cleaver also referred to Black women as “nigger bitches.” This is what we were called during slavery.

  25. PlanetCharnBaby 28 May, 2016 at 01:58 Reply

    Thank you for making that very valid point about Eldridge Cleaver! I read “Soul on Ice” a very long time ago, and was disgusted by his very twisted logic. As you pointed out, he started raping black women as practice for raping white woman, who he wanted to rape as revenge against white men for raping black women during the days of slavery. That is the most hypocritical and counterproductive reasoning I have ever
    encountered in someone who appears otherwise intelligent.

    He obviously felt that all the women, black and white, involved in his revenge plans, were merely objects to be used for his purposes. It was his utmost misogyny that allowed this to make sense to him. He obviously felt that black women BELONGED to black men, and white women BELONGED to white men, and as property, not separate human beings with any autonomy of their own, both groups could be used to hurt the white man. He didn’t care that a lot of black women were mistreated, and violated by white men throughout American history. He only cared that he felt that the “property” he felt belonged to his group, was being tampered with by another group.

    Not a single thought to all his traumatized rape victims, black and white, who had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes he was supposedly avenging in the first place.

    And his multiple rapes didn’t HURT a single white man anyway. He only hurt the black women in his own community, and white women who were also rather oppressed in 1950s America, which is when he was committing the crimes.

    It would have made more sense if he had gone around capturing and raping white men. But as has often been the case, throughout human history, men commit the crimes and women end up being punished for them.

  26. E.J. 25 January, 2017 at 18:30 Reply

    I used to think much more highly of the Panthers. The more I read about them, the less I liked them. The rampant abuse of women, murdering their own members (you shouldn’t steal your friend’s GF to begin with, shitty behavior on his part followed by murderous revenge), murdering others, colorism….Cleaver’s actions were disgusting. I was hoping he lied (or exaggerated, as he was in prison for rape) about it in the book for dramatic purposes, but I doubt it.

    Maybe he did genuinely turn his life around and become a decent person, but his actions beforehand were beyond real redemption, if you think about the countless people he greatly harmed and scarred, probably for life.

    He should have been in prison for life for what he did.

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