Because I am a kind, generous person I decided to break down some of the references in Beyonce’s Formation. Because I know that some white folks are probably pretty confused right now:
“I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”
Translation: Fuck your respectability politics, I like my natural self.
So, there have been numerous calls on the Internet to either straighten Blue Ivy’s hair or get rid of her natural afro. Part of respectability politics, the idea that is black people are good enough then racism will cease, is trying to conform to white aesthetic of beauty: narrow nose, straight hair, pale skin. Most famous is Michael Jackson, who went through numerous surgeries to make his narrower and more in line with European genetics.
Pushback against natural hair is a constant problem for the black community, and this pushback is usually perpetrated by whites who consider black hair textures to be ugly or unkempt. Children have been kicked out of school, news anchor have been fired, and even the military passed regulations that would have prohibited most styles favored by black women, punishing them for their natural appearance.
“I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag”
Translation: hot sauce is delicious, and even though I'm rich and famous I'm still like you.
Here’s the thing: when you ask for hot sauce in most restaurants the wait staff will either look at you cross-eyed or bring you a dried out ass bottle of Tabasco. Tabasco is probably the worst hot sauce ever, since it basically tastes like hot vinegar ass. Most black women know that if they want any flavor in their life they need to carry around a bottle of hot sauce with them.
Here are, in no particular order, acceptable hot sauces for your purse:
- Texas Pete
- Frank’s Red Hot (if you’re desperate)
- That bomb ass hot sauce your uncle makes once a year from peppers from his garden
Translation: predatory white people
Beyoncé can’t do a single thing without a cadre of white women rising up to criticize her in think pieces. Look at the response to her MTV Awards performance a few years ago, in which Beyoncé stood in front ofa lit sign proclaiming “Feminist” and the whole of the white feminist internet took to their computers to explain to us why Beyoncé actually wasn’t a feminist.
This line also alludes to the fact that black people were sometimes called “alligator bait” and black babies and children were used as bait in parts of Florida and the rest of the South under slavery. So Beyoncé is acknowledging that her actions tend to cause a feeding frenzy amongst her haters in white media while also acknowledging the painful history of slavery.
“’Cause I slay”
Translation: I’m fucking incredible
Damn right you are, Queen Bey.