The first thing I immediately thought when I saw Beyonce’s “Formation” was that some folks ruts – “roots” – would show. You know, ruts: biases, fears of lineage, missing genealogies, shit like that. And folks don’t like their ruts or their slip showing. Beyoncé showed er’body’s slip, parasol, skeeta bite scars, and conjuring grandmamma essence in this video. And it was scary. Downright gothic. That is, of course, unless you’re southern – by affiliation or blood and maybe hot sauce preference – and your ruts are ALWAYS showing because there was no reason to hide them in the first place.
Look here: I done said this time and time again that Beyonce’s ass is southern and country. I’m still working through her calling herself a Texas Bama. I guess it’s not too far off – when I hear Bama in Georgia it literally means someone from Alabama. But in the DMV Bama is a diss. I digress.
“Formation” is Texas style fatback and biscuits with country gravy, a dizzying spell that pulls from multiple places and modes of the black southern experience. Beyoncé took a familiar cultural marker of black southernness – trauma – and flipped that bih into a working ideology to engage what it means to be southern and black now.