You might have seen an amusing Twitter post that went viral over the weekend, from Florida politician KW Miller (who is verified by Twitter and is currently running for congress), making the unhinged claim that Beyoncé isn’t actually African-American, but is secretly …. Italian?
The post, littered with “QAnon” conspiracy hashtags, goes on to claim that the singer’s pop songs are filled with hidden messages and insidious symbols; even an innocuous statement like “Becky with the good hair,” is, apparently, part of the secret code.
Beyoncé and her husband, Jay Z, have long been the subject of conspiracy theories and wild fantasies; the idea is that the two are members of “the Illuminati,” and are secretly ushering a revolution, a new world order, brainwashing the public through music videos and dance routines.
Untangling the complexities of the Illuminati conspiracy would require its own article (an explainer can be found here), but in a nutshell, conspiracy theorists allege that the world is run by an ancient cabal of cultists, who communicate through secret signals, sometimes concealed within music videos. It’s a bit weird that these supposedly all-powerful people can’t just speak privately, or send text messages to one another, but that’s the idea.
Sadly, this conspiracy theory distracts adherents from real issues like economic inequality and climate change, by pushing the idea that valuable information can be gleaned from phrases like “Becky with the good hair,” rather than, say, becoming more informed about politics.
For several years, Jay Z has, during his performances, made a hand signal that forms a triangle. This is supposedly meant to represent a diamond, and has become synonymous with Jay Z and his record label. Occasionally, Beyoncé will also flash the hand signal, likely in support of her husband.
But the triangle shape is, for some, associated with the “Eye of Providence” (usually enclosed inside of a triangle, or a pyramid). Said Eye is connected to a wide range of belief systems, including the Freemasons and Illuminati, along with the many conspiracy theories that surround them. Recently, “Pizzagate” also became associated with the triangle shape.
Thus, conspiracy theorists believe that Jay Z’s iconic hand signal is, secretly, signalling his devotion to the Illuminati.
But the problem with attaching such weighty significance to a simple shape, is that triangles can be found everywhere, and very quickly, theorists can form a narrative by watching a music video and picking up on the “secret symbolism.”
It doesn’t help that Beyoncé and her creative team use so much religious iconography in her performances and videos – their playful depiction of Beyoncé as a music goddess ensures that conspiracy theorists will never, ever run out of material. By making wild associations between shapes, set pieces and dance routines, conspiracy theorists can cook up some spectacularly strange narratives.
Beyoncé and Jay Z are well aware of the increasingly bizarre theories that surround them – Beyonce directly addresses them in Formation, her lyrics stating: “Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess.”
So, how did “Beyoncé is secretly in the Illuminati” become “Beyoncé is secretly Italian?” Well, the source of the theory seems to stem from a single Instagram comment.
Beyond that, the imaginary Italian identity adds to the idea of Beyoncé being descended from a powerful bloodline of Illuminati cultists, as well as theorists craving a new deception to uncover.
By warping Beyoncé into a Illuminati-approved Rachel Dolezal, questioning her cultural identity, conspiracy theorists seek to delegitimize Beyoncé and portray her as a dangerously deceptive individual.
Considering how Beyoncé’s lyrics and imagery are so supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s hard to view this conspiracy as an innocent delusion – it appears to be an effort, deliberate or otherwise, to dismiss the entire movement as a fraud.