The Shalom of Sisters in #Formation


“When I first saw tap-dancing, I immediately got it:
The righteousness of being able to make so much noise with your feet.”
Shalom Harlow, Canadian model and actress


Yesterday, my husband posted a video on my Facebook wall along with a simple, “You’re welcome.” Let me explain.

Our marriage is comprised of two different narratives: The real life one, littered with laundry and late night Bob’s Burger’s binges and lectures to surly teenagers. And the online one, where we cheer each other on in emoticons and tweets.

In the real life love story, I know my husband is thinking of me when I find a candy bar on the counter after a long day of mothering. In the online one, his affection comes in memes and adorable videos posted to my timeline.

So, when a video of five tap dancing women popped up on my feed, I tucked it away as one more thing that my husband wanted to share with me. He knew I had been awake throughout the previous night with our sick daughter. His “you’re welcome” was a way of saying,“I see you. This might make your day better.”

And it did.

On February 6, 2016, the day before her Super Bowl half-time performance, the inimitable Beyonce dropped her single, “Formation,” and its accompanying video, on to her YouTube channel. The song celebrated her blackness and called ladies to “get in formation.”

It completely shook the internet. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone was watching.

I heard on a podcast that when one of the hosts first heard it she wasn’t even in front of a computer! She was in the middle of the street helping her friend move when, from windows and porches and cars, the sounds of “Formation” filled the street.

Then, the controversy started.

“Wait! Is this video for black people only?”
“Does she have to be so explicit?”
“What’s with the #blacklivesmatter reference?”

Lean in closely because I have a secret: I’m a black woman who loves her some Yonce, but I didn’t see the video until almost a week later. In the interim, Facebook told me everything I needed to know.

As per the usual, folks responded along race lines. My feed was full of strong posts from people on either side of the conversation. I just sighed.

I’m so done with the bickering about race between smart, generous, passionate women.

We’re filling the air with the wrong noise—all catty words and grandiose paragraph. This isn’t sisterhood. This isn’t Shalom or an embodiment of our relationships as they should be.

If there’s one thing I know it is this: Sisterhood is Shalom.

Which is why this video of a dance troupe from Washington D.C. is my favorite act of Shalom right now. It’s synchronized shalom. It’s sisterhood in taps and twirls and terrific hair flips. It’s owning your body and loving the way it moves. It’s creating beauty in the rubble of all the bickering. It’s advancing on the battlefield of division and hatred in unified formation.

Ladies, we need to get in Formation.

When I first saw the video of the dancing ladies, I cried at its beauty. But then, I planned. I planned to get into Formation. I planned to reach out to my sisters who share my passion, just like Syncopated Ladies reached out to fellow tappers and asked them to join into the dance and to increase their sound as one.

Who in your world shares your gifting, your passion, your calling? Reach out to her. She’s your sister at arms in this battle against darkness. Get into Formation and make a holy noise that chases back every single injustice.

When we come together as one, the sound of our advancing is truly terrifying for the enemy. We “twirl on” that Hater of our Souls when we refuse to give into the divisive language about other women. We slay him with our celebration of each other.

So, Ladies, let’s get into Formation. We’ve got a righteous noise to make.


Image credit: mrhayata

Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore is an Anabaptist-y, stay-at-home mom right in the thick of moving her family from Boston to Los Angeles . She's passionate about racial reconciliation, peacemaking, and community development in the urban core. At the top of her bucket list is dance in a flash mob—all the better if it's to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" or Pharrell's "Happy." Catch up with Osheta on her blog, Shalom in the City.
Osheta Moore
Osheta Moore

Latest posts by Osheta Moore (see all)

Osheta Moore
  • So so good, Osheta! I love this: “Get into formation and make a holy noise that chases back every single injustice.”

  • Love, love, love, Osheta!

    • Thanks, Sarah. This was fun and meaningful for me to write.

  • The geese are returning to my country hill, and your words brought to mind the thing we all know about geese — they fly in formation because it’s the most efficient and life-preserving way to fly.
    Oh, Lord, teach US what your blessed beasts already know!

    • Yes, the geese instinctively know something important- we are better together unified in one formation. I echo your prayer, today Michele.

  • Thank you for this cry for unity, Osheta. It is a call we all need to heed today! Love this!

    • You’re welcome, I’ll be praying for you today, Nicole!

  • I LOVE Formation! I’ve seen the video too many times – and that still isn’t enough. Yes to the message of empowerment and community in it and in your post.

    • YES! It took me a week to finally watch it but now, it’s on repeat over here (in my earbuds, of course, there are young, impressionable ears here) :).

  • HeleneBurns

    I love this so much Osheta! Yes to formation, yes to together, yes to shalom!

    ‘Fill up and complete my joy by living in harmony and being of the same mind and one in purpose, having the same love, being in full accord and of one harmonious mind and intention.’ Phil 2:2 (AMP) Amen!!

    • Love that translation of Phil 2:2! So perfect. Thank you Helene!

  • Kristy

    “Sisterhood is Shalom.” Yes! Thank you for the reminder.

    • You’re welcome, Kristy! I have to remind myself of this often!

  • Amilia

    Love this post. Also now I really want to learn this tap routine 😀

    • me too, Amilia. I bet that would be a fantastic work out!

  • Lisha Epperson

    Like you Osheta, I didn’t see the video until a week or so later. I felt sad about all the online bickering that went down after its release. SNL’s skit nailed the essence of the problem. The world just wasn’t ready for Black Bey.
    Love the cry for believing women to get in formation. Shalom is where it’s at and the dance references you use encourage me to stay in line and on my post.

  • Lindsy Wallace

    Osheta! So great to “see” you here! Not surprisingly, I love this. And I’m so done with the bickering as well. Thank you for focusing on Shalom and inviting others to do the same. (And thanks for a Formation video I can let my daughters watch;-)

  • Pingback: Shalom Sistas Squad Up: The Four Friends I Needed When My Son Was Called the N-Word | Shalom in the City()