Beyoncé, Black Panthers and meme-sharing

Feb. 23, 2016

I didn’t like this year’s Super Bowl halftime show because I don’t like pop music. And yes, I fully acknowledge the fact that I’m a pretentious hipster, and I prefer sad, boring folk music to fun, upbeat radio tunes.

Column by  Jake Prinsen  Opinion Editor
Column by
Jake Prinsen
Opinion Editor

I’m making this clarification because although I didn’t necessarily enjoy the show, I didn’t take offense to any of the underlying messages conveyed by Coldplay, Beyoncé or Bruno Mars.

Coldplay has never been a favorite group of mine. I think their new music sounds like overproduced, pop garbage in 4/4 time, mixed with unnecessary EDM-influenced “beat drops,” but I thought the support they conveyed for the LGBT community was proactive and refreshing.

Perhaps more controversial than Coldplay’s rainbow colors and empowering message was Beyoncé’s bold political statement made by black leather, afros and combat boots – a nod to the Black Panthers.

Conservatives took offense to Queen B’s unapologetically black performance. Some police departments called for a boycott of Beyoncé’s music and world tour, claiming her set was anti-police. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani called her performance “outrageous” as well.

“This is football, not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive,” Giuliani said.

Personally, I noticed my social media feeds blowing up with conservative friends sharing memes that compared the Black Panther Party to the Ku Klux Klan.

The memes suggested that if you are offended by confederate flags and images of the Klan, but not Beyoncé’s performance, you are a hypocritical racist.

Like I said earlier, I don’t like pop music, but I do enjoy history and pointing out bad rhetoric, and memes as ridiculously unfounded as this must be addressed with a history lesson.

The KKK was founded in 1866 following the Civil War in an effort to suppress the Republican Party’s reconstruction policies. They were trying to prevent political and economic equality for blacks, and they did so with cowardly, underground acts of terrorism and violence.

The Black Panther Party, on the other hand, was formed in 1966 in response to black oppression and played an important role in the civil rights movement. The Black Panthers were a militant group and were not opposed to using violence to achieve their goals, but that’s not enough to compare them to the Klan.

I think the key differences between the two organizations are fairly obvious, but let’s draw them out anyway for all the meme-sharers out in cyberspace.

The Black Panther Party was formed to combat minority oppression, to protect the black community and achieve racial equality. The Klan, however, was formed to perpetuate racial inequality and continue the suppression of minorities.

Can’t we all agree there’s a major difference there?

Notice I haven’t given my personal take on the Queen’s performance. I haven’t said anything about #Blacklivesmatter or #Alllivesmatter. I haven’t taken any shots at police or made any brash comments about any political statements made by pop singers. I’ve merely given a brief history lesson.

I write this because I’m troubled by memes. Seriously, nothing gets me angrier throughout my day than political memes that employ spotty, unfounded rhetoric.

I’ll scroll through my newsfeed and boom. There, staring me in the face is some stupid, unjustified meme that instantly ruins my normally cheerful demeanor.

Do people realize how memes reflect on them? Do they think they look smart? ‘Look at me, I can share a graphic on Facebook that someone else made.’

If anything, I’d say memes are a lot like bumper stickers. No one sees a “Make America Great Again” or a “Feel the Bern” sticker and thinks, ‘Wow. That person’s ideologies align with mine. I think we should exchange emails and chat sometime.’ Like memes, they just give me another reason to not be friends with you in real life.

I don’t share memes even if I agree with them because it’s too easy. In fact, it’s just plain lazy.

Do a little research. Compose an argument. Stop sharing memes simply because they align with your personal opinions – right-wingers and left-wingers. Doing so perpetuates the spread of false information and bad rhetoric, and will only result in the further devolution of American society.

Want to make America great again? Stop sharing memes – start doing some research.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email