Pop superstar Beyonce has rejected criticism that her new activism is “anti-police,” saying she is tired of being assigned labels.
Beyonce caused a stir in February with her new song “Formation,” whose video was heavy in imagery from the Black Lives Matter protest movement including a scene in which police raise their hands up as if under arrest.
“I’m an artist, and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken,” she said in an interview with Elle magazine that came out Tuesday.
“I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things,” she said.
Beyonce suggested that the criticism was a case of attacking the messenger, calling the video a celebration of Black History Month and of feelings “there long before a video and long before me.”
A police group and a number of conservative commentators said they were offended by the song, which musically marked Beyonce’s biggest foray into the Southern hip-hop style of bounce.
Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, known for his tough-on-crime stance, said it was “outrageous” that Beyonce performed “Formation” during halftime at the Super Bowl — American football’s title match which is the most-watched US television event of the year.
But Beyonce also won praise from activists who said that the pop star — who along with her husband, rap mogul Jay-Z, is worth an estimated $1 billion — was using her fame for social good.
Beyonce has long described herself as a feminist but said in the interview that a better term might be “humanist” as she was concerned with all inequality, noting for example her work for Global Citizen which fights extreme poverty in the developing world.
“I don’t want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that’s my one priority, over racism or sexism or anything else.
“I’m just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in,” she said.
Beyonce, who gives few in-depth interviews, spoke to Elle for the launch of her Ivy Park line of athletic attire for women.