Yesha Callahan

Open Thread: Should Beyoncé Speak Out About Police Brutality & Racism?

When it come to speaking her mind, Beyoncé’s been keeping the media at arm’s length. Despite being on the cover of the most coveted issue of Vogue of the year, Bey stayed mum–literally. She didn’t grant the venerable publication an interview, something the New York Times pointed out is a regular occurrence for the singer who’s been giving other mags the shaft as well.

But as celebs like Amandla Stenberg and Janelle Monáe speak out about feminism, police brutality, and racism, some are calling on Queen Yoncé to be more outspoken as well.

Shannon M. Houston writes on Salon

Suppose, for example, that she’d used this grand moment—as the third black woman to ever cover Vogue’s September issue (and only the 19th to land a solo Vogue cover in the history of the publication) to speak out against the racism that plagues this country—all the way from Ferguson to the halls of Condé Nast. Or suppose she’d used it to bring more awareness to the work she’s been doing with her BeyGOOD foundation in Haiti. I can’t imagine Vogue would have begrudged her time to speak on any of these subjects. Consider the possibilities if she’d taken a few moments to talk briefly about her husband, a product of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn and no stranger to racial profiling and systematic poverty. Would she have swayed the Vogue readers on any of their political ideals or beliefs? Not necessarily. But she would have made a powerful (and empowering, for others) show of solidarity for those longtime fans who are hoping for a bigger, louder voice to emerge from a sea of celebrities posting endless selfies and images of yacht trips, with no public acknowledgement of the Black Lives Matter movement or the issues it’s taken up.

Suppose that, instead of Janelle Monáe, Beyoncé had shouted “Say Her Name: Sandra Bland!” on a track, or released something akin to “Hell you Talmbout”? If she can sing for the President and sing for Pepsi, why can’t we ask that she sing for her people? (We know she grew up listening to many singers, like Aretha Franklin, who did.) Wouldn’t that have been more “empowering” than one more gorgeous, glossy photo spread? Wouldn’t that have been more refreshing than this flaunting of a privileged silence?

Though Houston admits Beyoncé isn’t the only celebrity to remain silent on #BlackLivesMatter, she–along with her husband–are perhaps one of the few who’ve actually put their money into the cause.

Back in May, the Carters’ close friend dream hampton let it slip that the couple bailed out protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore, wiring “tens of thousands” in mere minutes. And when the BlackLivesMatter organization was trying to ramp up and establish chapters across the country, the Carters again “wrote a huge check” for the cause, claimed hampton.

But does #BlackLivesMatter need Beyoncé’s voice more than her money?

It’s hard to say, but Bey didn’t get this far in her career by not playing to her strengths.  I’m not sure why her support for the movement would be any different.

We all have our roles to play in the push for freedom, some write checks, other speak passionately about the issues, and others take their concerns directly to the streets.

But what should Bey do?

Sound off in the comments section below! 

  1. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    I guess it’s time for the topic to show up again {sigh}

    I preface this by saying that I’m not even a Beyonce fan.

    However, Bey should do whatever she wants to do. If that’s speaking out about BlackLiveMatter fine; if she’s not interested in doing that, that’s okay too!

    However, I find it funny that author(s) appear to be giving Bey the benefit of the doubt about not speaking out. But couldn’t give the same consideration to black beauty bloggers who have way less influence than Bey does.

  2. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    If she does not want to speak, it’s not the end of the world because we have OUR voices. Before Beyonce was Beyonce, black people raised their voices and they were heard. I would like the masses to stop depending on celebrities as to say, they are the solutions to our problems, especially when most of them distance themselves from it in the first place unless it is convenient for them to jump on the bandwagon to benefit their brand. If she does lend her voice GREAT, if she doesn’t GREAT. We are in days where artist and social responsibility no longer go hand in hand. We are no longer amongst the greats such as Nina Simone, Duke Ellington, Coltrane, Billie Holiday and many more who were brave and courageous enough to speak out. We should be focusing on what WE can do instead of questioning what Beyonce can do. We as a community have responsibility too, lets focus on this mission of representing our black people and letting the world know we matter.

  3. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    When Bey chooses to speak up, people spew venom. When she chooses to not give out interviews, people spew venom.
    711: “I know you care.”

    Suppose this, suppose that…Well, you’re not Bey, and you never will be. You don’t walk in her shoes. Therefore, you don’t get to condescendingly dictate what she should say or do, and how/where she should say it or do it. It’s her choice. Respect it all the way since you’re probably pro-choice & all.

    Bey continues to share her thoughts with the world about these injuctice…Long after the US court rulings. She’s actually met & stood together with several family members of the loves one who were murdered.

    Bey has her hands involve in providing shelter, food, education, medical care, justice, and so on from her hometown to around the globe with her BeyGood initiative and as the global campaign Chime for Change co-founder.
    Her actions & words continue to speak for themselves.

    Continue to do your part instead of dictating what another grown woman should say/do.

  4. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    Well, it looks like she’s literally putting her money where her mouth is. Money speaks loudly, so even though she’s not outwardly vocal about some of these issues, she’s at least doing something to cause change.

  5. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    First, this movement for black liberation is non-negotiable. Either we are free or we aren’t. So, we all have a role to play and Beyoncé shouldn’t be burdened to have this responsibility alone. As others have mentioned, she has aided the movement in many ways. She is a grown woman, she’s black, and she obviously loves her family. So, Beyoncé has the right to express her own independent decisions. At the end of the day, we should be more concerned with what we can do in making a difference rather than what one celebrity does or not does. We face the common problem of racial and economic oppression. We want freedom and justice. We quit and we will fight as the struggle continues.

  6. August 25, 2015 - Reply

    Are we at the point where we are looking to celebrities for direction and their personal opinion? Don’t get me wrong, if these celebrities like Beyonce, Amandla S. or Janelle M. are truly activists then wonderful and let them help the cause, if not choose to support them or don’t. But I am not going to wait to get involved or speak out based on a celebrity opinion nor am I am going to wait with bated breath to see what Beyonce and others say. Let’s stop giving these people all this power. And like mention, people play different roles. Not everybody can’t be the forerunner, some people like to be behind the scenes while others like to be foot soldiers, etc. and you know what ALL of that is okay if it helps progress a movement. The real issue is some people want these celebrities to do what they want them to do (which they get in a catch 22 of damn if you do and damn if you don’t) and when they don’t they criticize. Stop looking at what others are doing and THINK what YOU can do. You guys are making me stan and you know how I feel about the culture of “stans”…lol.
    But this whole thing reminds me of the David Chappelle’s skit on celebrities when he was talking about how Ja Rule was interviewed about 9/11 and one of the running joke was “who gives a damn what Ja Rule thinks at a time like this I don’t want to dance I am scare to death…”. This skit is basically how I feel about celebrities and their opinions in general.

    • August 25, 2015 - Reply


      I agree.

      I have to side with the Beyhive on this on. LOL. 🙂

      • August 25, 2015 - Reply

        I am on there side too but I refuse to enter that nest of crazy with her fans/stans right along with Drake’s, Rihanna’s ,etc. fans/stans. I try to nagivate the waters to avoid fandemonium….lol

        • August 25, 2015 - Reply


          LOL. I agree.

  7. August 26, 2015 - Reply

    Here’s the thing: Beyonce has no problem speaking out on feminist issues, especially when it benefits her, whether in song or joining a campaign in which she is the face of an institution. She has no problem advocating veganism on a morning show, especially when it benefits her. Surely she could speak (not just donate as many people have done; and that is questionable given the sources who revealed that information is) on issues concerning her black brethren. It just simply doesn’t benefit her.

    This isn’t an issue of whether or not people are leaning on celebrities to speak up for the cause (how dare people even fall back on that tired statement, but yet will complain about the lack of celebs who don’t or overtly praise ones who does). There is clearly a platform available that black activists are using and black celebrities recognizing and using their power isn’t an issue (see: Jesse Williams and Amandla and even Taraji). But I fail to see how any black person cannot espouse a coherent thought on the matter whether you’re joe-schmoe or a celebrity. I’m fairly certain Beyonce is more than capable of articulating her thoughts on the matter (just as Solange), but it simply doesn’t benefit her (monetarily) to do so.

  8. August 26, 2015 - Reply

    Leave that woman alone. Some people are better off silent. Do you really want to hear what she has to say or do you want to write a think piece critiquing it hoping you will get lots of clicks.

  9. August 26, 2015 - Reply

    When celebrities do speak up you sometimes get a Raven Symone then you want them to shut the hell up. Be careful what you wish for.

  10. August 26, 2015 - Reply

    She already spoke on racism on the Larry King show saying if we were all mixed racism would end. She also said people don’t look at her color.

  11. August 27, 2015 - Reply

    I get why people say that she shouldn’t (she literally doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to), but I say yes. Or rather, if I was a celebrity, especially one of her stature, I would, because stans (let’s be real) worldwide hang on their faves every word and action. If Beyonce spoke out on these things, possibly some fans that are apathetic or who don’t really think about such issues might be woken up. These celebrities have so much power but mostly use it to further their own aims.

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