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Beyoncé: ‘Anyone Who Perceives My Message as Anti-Police Is Completely Mistaken’

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In her much-anticipated Elle interview published Tuesday, Beyoncé spoke about the meaning behind her “Formation” video and clarified that she is against police brutality, but not antipolice.

“Anyone who perceives my message as antipolice is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe,” Beyoncé said. “But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things.”

Her “Formation” song, which the singer also performed at the Super Bowl halftime show, was greeted by fans and critics as a celebration of the fight for equality — for women, for African Americans and for LGBTQ people. But it also drew the ire of police unions and even former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who argued that her Black Lives Matter message was antipolice, with some even calling for a boycott of her tour. (One shot in the “Formation” video shows “Stop Shooting Us” written in graffiti and the video ends with Beyoncé sinking into the water atop a police car.)

Beyoncé fired back at such critics in her interview: “If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me,” she said.

The “Formation” flap isn’t the first time that the pop superstar has come under fire for her politics, and Beyoncé also took the opportunity address her stance on feminism. While many (including this writer) applauded the singer for emblazoning the word feminist behind her during her Mrs. Carter tour, and defining it in her song “Flawless,” some objected to her use of the word.

“I put the definition of feminist in my song [“Flawless”] and on my tour, not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I’m a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning,” Beyoncé told Elle. “I’m not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it’s very simple. It’s someone who believes in equal rights for men and women,” she added. “I don’t understand the negative connotation of the word, or why it should exclude the opposite sex. If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist.”

Beyoncé also clarified that the issues of race and gender are not mutually exclusive for her: “I don’t like or embrace any label. 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,” she said. “I’m just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion — I feel that women have the same rights.”

The pop star is launching her own athletic clothing line, Ivy Park, this week.


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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com