Politicizing Beyoncé: A Pass or A Fail?

by James B. Golden

Politicizing BeyonceRutgers University recently made headlines for their Women’s Studies course entitled, Politicizing Beyoncé. The class, taught by Kevin Allred, identifies how “the performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics.” Allred mentioned, “While other artists are simply releasing music, she’s creating a grand narrative around her life, her career, and her persona.”

There are questions about the validity of the class, and whether or not Beyoncé’s career actually warrants a course addressing social issues. While she has certainly made strides within the entertainment industry by coining a word recognized by Webster’s Dictionary, performing at the inauguration of our first Black President Barack Obama, being honored with a statue in her native Houston, and having an animal named after her, there is still a need to think this through completely.

Looking back over 15 years ago to the beginnings of Destiny’s Child, Beyoncé identified herself early on as a champion for female independence through her lyrics.

“Bug-A-Boo”, “Bills Bills Bills”, “Say My Name”, and “Survivor” were all songs which offered pop-oriented messages about powerful women in control of their own lives. The group’s landmark release, “Independent Women”, was further inspiration for women to claim their own territory outside of the confines of a patriarchal society. They sang, “tell me how you feel about this?/Try to control me boy you get dismissed/Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills/Always 50-50 in relationships”.

Beyoncé said that “Bootylicious” was written on a long flight where she ran across an inspiring moment listening to the Stevie Nicks cut, “Edge Of Seventeen”. The guitar riff immediately pushed Beyonce into writers-mode, allowing her to visualize a woman’s hips vibrating back and forth, spilling her femininity in the air all around her. “Bootylicious” was an undercover anthem for many young girls who recognized the song as a celebration of a woman’s curves.

Yet, after we began to recognize Beyoncé’s songs as messages written to catchy tracks, discussions began to swirl about her intentions in the entertainment industry. Many believed that her songs of female empowerment would be short-lived and only existed around a time which saw the Spice Girls profitably deliver similar girl-power anthems.

Thus, Beyonce transitioned as a solo artist, claiming her sexuality and boldly displaying it in a more viciously provocative manner. On the music videos and stage performances from her debut album Dangerously In Love, Beyonce wore merely a few scraps of material covering her body at times. Her outfits were reminiscent of Tina Turner, Cher, and Josephine Baker, all of whom were initially criticized but ultimately made grand impacts on the music industry.

As Beyoncé continued to push the envelope with racier performances for her audiences, the numbers of followers began to grow. Her audience was captivated in concert similarly to a Michael or Janet performance, and she began to shed light on her ability to reach masses exceeding her contemporaries.

Beyoncé’s later songs “Single Ladies”, “If I Were A Boy”, “Irreplaceable”, “Run The World”, and “Listen” have been lyrical psalms for young female independence. They’ve offered an appropriate collaborative message to sideline her all female band (The Mamas) and dancers. Yet, while the superstar’s energy in the performance of these songs is vibrant, her constant grinding and lascivious sexualized acts have historically been hard for many viewers to swallow.

  • S.

    “Politicizing” + “Beyonce” = automatic FAIL

  • Anonymous

    I will never take a course on Beyonce but am not against a course on her either. After all lady gaga came on the scene in a shorter period than Beyonce and has not one but two university courses based on her. So I don’t understand what the anger is all about.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I don’t think courses like these have anything to do with Beyonce herself, rather they have to do with the hold the celebrities have on American culture. Now, do I believe that some artists really transcend their musicality? yes (i.e. Bob Marley, Michael JAckson, Bob Dylan M.I.A. ((a personal favorite)))…this is because their music has served as a platform to inform their fans about issues OUTSIDE of their own little worlds and their own little boxes. These artists have dedicated their music and lives to issues of the world and not just your typical love song. For me, Beyonce’s lyrics are amateur at best although I can’t deny the power in their simple lyrics and the thrill you feel in the club singing a “girl power song”, growing up listening to Destiny’s Child and Beyonce, her music does not move me in this way..its like a fleeting, momentary thing. And the woman herself is pretty vapid and seems to have no real true, deep or emotional vulnerability on her songs.

    That being said, I don’t know the details of this course and am aware that its prob part of a small # of electives that focus on pop culture, but I don’t think Beyonce has ever been that “deep” to even warrant any critical look in terms of politics. She is, at best, very very talented at imitating and replicating other people’s shit and performing the hell out of it. Any attempt her creativity or girl power seems lacking in creativity and authenticity..

  • http://www.cocoareport.com Cocoa Report

    I think Beyonce is a great performer and artist. I think a course about branding and marketing would be more beneficial than a political course.

    She has accomplished a lot but she is not a very vocal person and she stays neutral about a lot of topics. She has done a lot (from what I read) to help people and she likes to empower women but she really does not reveal herself personally enough for a political class.

  • WMP

    “Beyoncé said that “Bootylicious” was written on a long flight where she ran across an inspiring moment listening to the Stevie Nicks cut, “Edge Of Seventeen”. ”

    Rightttt we (should) all know by now that this was a well rehearsed lie. Beyonce did not really run across the “Edge of Seventeen” cut. A producer ran across it, gave it to Matthew Knowles, and he and Beyonce took credit. I am a huge stan so i’m not bashing her, just saying. She doesn’t write her own stuff/seem to have any real inspiration. She’s always be my fav, but when it comes to college level courses, the smoke and mirrors have to be left alone.

    I think a more appropriate title for the course would be “Polarizing: Beyonce” because she is one of few artists who garner so much hate, criticism, and praise all at once. You could even break down the reasons behind the polarization: image vs lyrics, political neutrality vs humanitarian efforts, etc etc.

  • isolde

    I agree, Beyonce would make a great B-school case study.

  • Isis


  • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com/ Perverted Alchemist

    John Coltrane? Yes.
    Miles Davis? Yes.
    Nina Simone? Yes.
    Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff? Sure, why not?

    But Beyonce Knowles?
    Outside of record sales and big budget videos, what can one expect to learn from a class on her?

  • Joan

    She’s not creating a grand narrative around her life, her career and her persona, OTHER PEOPLE are. I like Beyonce, I enjoy her music, I love her performances and I think she is gorgeous, but she’s not a goddess. She’s an entertainer. She’s a standout entertainer. She’s not the first and she will not be the last. She’s doing her thing and she does it extremely well, but people need to remember that she is entertaining people…THAT’S IT! LOL. She’s not ending world hunger, curing cancer, or turning water to wine. In my opinion, the class should be about our society’s preoccupation with the lives of celebrities.

  • LurkerG


  • Sani

    I really like Beyonce.

    I think she doesn’t get as much credit as she deserves.

    Many Black women are threatened by an uber-successful black woman, especially one who is pretty.

    I’m flattered for her and I would take the course.

  • Sani

    why a fail? Beyonce’s videos and lyrics ARE social statements…

  • Sani

    I concur.

  • Sani

    i think she deserves some focus, especially since she’s been making accessible anthems for a long time

  • Sani

    i concur

  • Sani

    —> how to maintain a status at the top, while owning your own career and applying the messages you want to send out, which happen to be socially provocative.

  • LemonNLime


    I said it once before and I’ll say it again, this is exactly why America’s education system is a joke among developed countries. I don’t think college students in China, Japan, Korea, the UK, Finland, Sweden, etc. are signing up for classes on Beyonce or Lady Gaga and look at the quality of their students and education. When are people going to realize that: lack of funding for schools + the celebritfication (a word I just made up) of our education system = a F as in FAILING American academic institutions that can’t prepare students for the globalized world of the future.

  • LolaChi

    How many of those songs has she wrote herself?

  • Arie

    As much as she has done, an entire course about one person? I’d be tired of talking about Beyonce by the second week. Couldn’t do it.

  • S

    i can see a class, compared to rihanna, lady gaga, or katy perry. B has been in the game a lot longer. lol. she’s a heavyweight. it woudl be interesting to see what happens from the class.

  • S

    agreed. i want to see the syllabus. will they talk about the ‘Girls’ video or ‘If I Were A Boy’ for one whole day? lol

  • FaSho

    I think Beyonce would be great as a Business school marketing class case or even a music class. However, I do not think she really has thought provoking material. DC’s music in its earlier years were just a reflection of the songwriters they had, I don’t think they really wrote any of their music but I could be wrong. Lady Gaga even though she is strange she has a lot of messages in her music and takes stances on pressing issues

  • isolde

    “I said it once before and I’ll say it again, this is exactly why America’s education system is a joke among developed countries.”

    @Lemon Lime

    You were wrong when you said it in the other thread, and you’re just as wrong now. The US college and university system is reknown the world over. Multiple surveys rank many US colleges among the world’s best. Foreign students flock here to study by the droves. You don’t know what you’re talking about.


  • http://pervertedalchemist.blogspot.com/ Perverted Alchemist

    “—> how to maintain a status at the top, while owning your own career and applying the messages you want to send out, which happen to be socially provocative.”

    She’s not exactly sending out any messages- musically or otherwise.
    Socially provocative? She’s just a pop singer- not a politician, Oscar winning filmmaker or Pulitzer Prize winning author.

  • D-Money

    A class? Not about feminism–please, please don’t do that to us. Let us see the syllabus: I need a good laugh…Just because she makes these (badly written, verbalized) songs as some ATTEMPT to show she’s a woman in charge, she deserves a class? What she really is is a product of her mom’s mixed ancestral privilege, beauty shop overkill, and the Jezebel archetype. Still just an object to 95% of folks out there, but they won’t hold the Jez stuff against her as much as, say … a dark-skinned woman. A class? She hasn’t said ANYTHING that hasn’t been said better, by a better black woman, already. What’s new? Her a-crack? No, she ain’t kissin’ Madonna, but she’s showed enough tail IN those ‘empowerment’ songs/videos/pictures/badly acted movies–to match Madonna while somewhat discrediting her own messages. At least Madonna is being genuine about it. “Bey” is not some kind of spokewoman/role model for black women, and I don’t hear anyone asking for her to be! Why shove more of her down our throats because she’s trendy (for now)? Just because she appoints HERSELF to be … queen diva doesn’t make it so, or good, at least not worth paying tuition money over, certainly. The professor would make more money and save dignity by teaming up with B for a [lame, ghost-written] book (like her hubby), and call it a day. Give us a hand, Oshun!

    I’m all for women [of color, finally] owning and being proud of their sexuality without shame, but it is still an undeveloped reality for anyone browner than a paper bag to get away with unscathed, so while B thinks she’s free, she’s actually not providing a model, but rubbing her privilege in every one’s face; that’s all B has to offer: the media mandate to B like her or forget it.

    She is not the embodiment of some complex dialectic that allows hypersexuality and feminism to overlap and interact in a beneficial way; that’s an illusion, just as media is. She can only be told in some misguided way to act as if its real. In fact, she is the shadow of a strong black woman “in full”. Just a shadow, and phony construction of reality, and I wouldn’t ask more of her.

    There’s no “there” there, and it would be humiliating for her to pretend there is. Her antics overpower her lyrics, which aren’t strong to begin with unless you’re 14, if that’s what’s being drawn on for a class here. Mass media overkill: she gets an A+, but get serious: Most of her general commentary is, well … general … cliche … lacking in impact (and correct grammar). So why try to make her seem as if she has gravitas? She’s a lightweight everywhere else except the limelight. If she were deep, we’d have known already, folks. What’s deep is her ego … That talking British cat on youtube is deeper than she is lol. People should know better than to ask her deep questions; I cringe (rightfully) every time she cracks that gorgeous smile to answer someone. There’s like a “does not compute” Macintosh face that pops up in my mind every time. Kinda like those completely empty ESPN ‘interviews’ with hot but dumb, programmed, slave auction negro professional athletes (“I’m just gonna go out there an’ i’ma … i’ma do my bes’ … for the coach… for the fans… peace … where’s my blond girlfriend? etc.). All smiles and nothing between the ears but new ways to shake her booty on camera. Frankly, if there are any brains behind her larger than life image, shamefully enough as a feminist statement, it’s Jay Z. Sure of it. And her mom needs to get a life. Oh, I forgot: she’s living vicariously through her plastic-surgery packed kid of hers.

    I also personally don’t respect “stars” who swipe ideas (however subtle) from others (that means you, too, Erykah … so ‘scarf heads’ aren’t exempt–Badu is pale with light eyes and has an arsenal of phony hair, too–there was never anything under that huge wrap but air–and contradicts her own messages as well. Sorry, she does, and lies about it. Why? Why the need to? Her light skinned privilege, just like B’s, has HUGE currency in Texas. In any critical academic discussion, that should be considered.

    Meanwhile India, Jill, et al are dismissed as background noise, just as Angela was overlooked for dingbat Halle for an Oscar. Ask why the pale sisters are always on “top” … so consistently, and who’s REALLY putting them there (not you, not really, you’re just a consumer who’s been successfully targeted and brainwashed to think she’s some kind of REAL idol. She has bowel movements, too, folks, and I’d bet it ain’t so sexy. And people wonder why there ‘aren’t more dark women out there’: that’s the issue, folks, right?

    She’s too dumb to be this “big” all on her own, and it ain’t her mama. It’s a paid-for, high-powered service, like she is. It’s planned. It’s a collective, unspoken, often unconscious agreement inside AND outside of the black community to perpetuate what is safe–and pale. Ironically, her black texas girl style is what makes her image so alluring, and now she’s the gay white man’s dress up doll? The black man’s blow up doll? What??? So whattup with the bleaching? Why do that if you’re proud of your self? We’re NOT over it, folks; we’re fatigued, but it ain’t over: If she were a very dark-skinned woman of equal talent and looks (and actually given credit for it, that is …without a rhetorical lynching by whites and men alike), who talked that badly, who showed so much ‘crease’ (front AND back; save the demure crap, Bey, we know you’re a freak, okay! Because we can’t escape the camel toe shots! Can’t!), we wouldn’t even know she existed. She’d be either ignored, or absolutely mutilated by our racist, patriarchal press so much she wouldn’t sell any albums. THAT is the dialectic, how other ‘kinds’ of black women are both totally invisible and highly visible at the same time–and neither pole is a benefit–but when you’re “Bey”, both sides work for you. And she is aware of THAT, because she encourages it. Why not encourage something else? Yes, if a dark-skinned woman of equal ability and looks was ever fully abided, she’s be as criticized and derided for the most minor details, as much as Michelle Obama has been since she became first lady. Now, that’s a better subject to build a college feminism class around ………………….. right? Right?

    But people can’t even ask B hard questions, so worshipful are they to not see her look … kinda dumb. Very protective of our beige divas, aren’t we? We can overlook IT … Yes, B is spinning a grand narrative, financed by her funny looking husband, selling it to already media-beseiged black girls who won’t have the opportunity to follow her success without looking whiter and whiter, or whoring themselves out. Her narrative: stolen, borrowed, made up, and she doesn’t even understand, lol. So many talented women of color out there, but all we can talk about is this chick? Makes me feel dispair … Someone should tell HER to go to college. There’s more important stuff to construct a class around in these times. There’s more value out there than who can sell a damned top ten record or ‘win’ an award.

    If you even tried to explain the Coltrane class to her, her wig would explode. This is obviously for the instructor’s own need for entertainment and attention from somewhere? Finding a rationale for a class on Beyonce alone would be a stretch. But I think a critical race or feminist theory class with her as ONE of several subjects of CRITIQUE is overdue … and if the scholars are real, these classes wouldn’t be pretty for our pretty Southern belle. Someone in the string also said something about mass media marketing angle for a class: good idea. She’s got some jedi image-builders out there seriously hooking her up: the best money can buy. Sure hope Blu Ivy doesn’t look like a pit bull; how would she plaster over that? Her sister’s son looks kinda funny… lol, not hating, just angry enough to feel hate that someone would take the idea of a class on her seriously … As someone else said, our educational system is a joke, now it’s a cool blond joke. Still a joke.

  • S

    i agree with @isolde there is nothing wrong with AM Ed systems. and i just wonder if we’re missing Beyonce’s relevance to this generation… her aspiring to be the best in and of itself is a social statement against traditional stereotypes for Blacks as Lazy and Black Women as socially irrelevant.

  • Sani

    She has been labeled socially provacative since 97 when she was called a male-basher for writing Bills, Bills, Bills…, Single Ladies provoked a hell of a discussion, all the way up to Why Don’t You Love Me which was her most statement-worthy video.

    I feel why you would so easily assume she isn’t making statements, but her band and all of that combined is a statement worth listening to.

  • LemonNLime

    @isolde – Nope my friend you are wrong and don’t know what you are talking about. The article you posted is about increased international student enrollment…not surprising because it is from the IIE which works to bring more international students to the US. Considering that is their business, why would they say otherwise?

    Either way it still doesn’t prove anything. Just because you have more international students doesn’t mean it is a high ranking educational program. A few good schools here and there don’t take away from the thousands of other primary and secondary schools that are failing academically, the fluffy university programs, the universities that inflate grades to have a better standing outwardly, the horrible education policies, etc.

    And here is my proof:

    Math, science, and reading rankings: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/07/world-education-rankings-maths-science-reading and here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/07/us-falls-in-world-education-rankings_n_793185.html

    And here is one on why are universities are failing despite the “high” rankings and high cost: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/nov/24/our-universities-why-are-they-failing/?pagination=false


    Beyonce is the queen! She has everything hating heifers want: supportive family, long career in the field of her choice, a man who loves her and openly idolizes her, longggg money, more beauty than most can wish to attain, marriage, a child within wedlock, has traveled the world, and CLASS in the face of many who wish to tear her down. Obviously many of you have never heard of the department AMERICAN Studies, which offer classes that take a focus of the media or period or time and use that as a microcosm through which to study the American public and atmosphere of that period. #oldhags

  • QoNew

    This may be off topic but I have to say that while I dont particularly enjoy Beyonce’s music I do admire her and appreciate her image. She is one of the view black and female media images that doesnt make me cringe. She is beautiful, talented, well put together, and safe. She reminds me of the black female singers of the past that were a net benefit to the image of black women.

    Beyonce is politics for black women. Black women have long politicized Beyonce or have dragged her into the fray of long held political beefs within the black community i.e. light vs. dark, single parent home vs. married couple home, our sexuality, our hair, etc. Is everyone else just now catching on?

  • QoNew


    I completely agree with everything that you say. I think black women are indebted to Beyonce. Beyonce doesnt force black women to do damage control everytime she is in the public eye.

    If the world saw Beyonce everytime they thought of black women, I wouldnt be complaining.

  • http://www.method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    I concur. Beyonce involves people in her world. She does not get involved in the world, and only does so inasmuch as it involves promoting her career. Anyone who has read bell hooks, alice walker, etc would probably be insulted at the fact that someone who only marginally engages with feminist discourse seeks to profit from it and even more so that people would warrant this requires an entire course.

  • Nne

    I get the allure of Beyonce and her brand and the message she (or her handlers) project. However, if I were an employer and saw more than two or three courses similar to this, I would have to question the credibility of the GPA.

  • ruggie

    Rutgers recently paid Snooki from “Jersey Shore” $32K to give a guest ‘lecture’ and now this…

    I understand the importance of cultural and media studies but I’m concerned about academic laziness!

    An entire class based on one performer seems like an attempt to make critical analysis “relevant” to young students by spoon feeding them social analysis via their favorite star. Will the class teach them how music distribution works, the importance of image-makers, the role of A&R, stylistics, choreographers, intellectual property rights, and management — everything that goes into making a pop star in the first place?

    If students are not being rigorously taught the economic and managerial framework in which an artist like Beyonce works, they won’t be learning any more than what they could from an in-depth magazine article. That would cheat the students and reflect poorly on the school.

  • ruggie


  • iQgraphics

    @ Ruggie
    You’re right!

    I believe this is a ploy. Just as some other school named Lil Wayne Carter and Onika Nicki Minaj teachers of the years, now they want to allow Snookie to give lectures and give a class about Beyonce. Yes, these people are important to pop culture, but they are culturally insignificant.

    While it’s great that beyonce role model to young girls, to give her the feminist bump is asinine. Most of her liberating songs were not written by her. Her husband is a notoriously objectifies women in his music.

    But that aside, these platforms of higher education are gearing the future generation to look to these “brands” as political identifiers. This is a small drop in the bucket of social engineering.

    And while nearly a third of students entering into college have to take some form of remedial rudiments (math and/or english) I really don’t think beyonce should be a subject of discussion

  • isolde

    “not surprising because it is from the IIE which works to bring more international students to the US. Considering that is their business, why would they say otherwise?”

    IIE isn’t the only one saying this


    “A few good schools here and there don’t take away from the thousands of other primary and secondary schools that are failing academically, the fluffy university programs, the universities that inflate grades to have a better standing outwardly, the horrible education policies, etc.”

    There are more than “a few good (American) schools” in the leading global college ranking surveys, and we’re not even talking about primary and secondary education. “Politicizing Beyonce” is a college level course, and since this thread has nothing to do with primary or secondary education, your Guardian link is irrelevant. And I just cannot with you fronting like the only universities in the world that inflate grades are in the US. Whateva man . . .

    “Either way it still doesn’t prove anything. Just because you have more international students doesn’t mean it is a high ranking educational program.”

    Oh, but two minutes ago, it was “US education system is a joke among developing countries,” Now, that the foreign enrollment tea has been served up nice and hot, with the US being the leading destination for international students the world over, it’s “more international students don’t mean it’s a high ranking program.” Yeah, it’s so much of a joke that hordes of foreign students are spending money here by the bucket load to get US university degrees. Someone should tell all those foreign students, paying for US degrees, that their degrees aren’t quality because you said so, and when they ask you for proof why, you can link them to your Guardian article about the 15 year old test takers and the New York Review of Books (LOL)

    Which survey do you want me to link to with the barrage of US public and private universities ranking among the world’s best? The Newsweek one, the US News and World Report one, or the Times’ Higher Education World University Rankings?

  • http://thedaughterofafrika.blogspot.com/ African Mami

    Cottamn! They should politicize African Mami’s commentary in college too! This is some bull right hurr! I don’t care for this woman at all.

  • LemonNLime

    @isolde – How many of those students are coming from developed countries? Here:

    “Together, the top three sending countries—China, India and South Korea—comprise nearly half (44%) of the total international enrollments in U.S. higher education. Canada, Taiwan and Japan each represent close to 4% of the total international student population, with these top six places of origin comprising 56%. Each of the other sending countries represents 2% or less of the total number of international students in the United States.”

    So yeah there are international student coming to the US but an overwhelming majority are coming from China and India, developing countries. There aren’t high numbers of say Swiss, Dutch, English, or Scandinavian, or other students from developed countries coming here to get an education. Sure they may study abroad here but that is not the same thing as pursuing a degree. Why would they when they can get a better education for much less at home. Besides look at the list, Taiwan, S. Korea, Japan, China – many of these students are coming here to learn better their English and learn more about the market their countries are working with economically.

    And like I said there are some great universities here, MIT, Harvard, etc. So what? Every country has their top universities. Having 5 or 500 universities on that list doesn’t negate the fact that as the world richest country, with the high GDP, one where many of it citizens say they live in the best country in the world, our overall education system is lacking. It makes no sense that we sit at 1 in development and what 20 something in math, science, and reading? Don’t believe me? Do a search for “US education system rankings”. With our resources our children should be receiving the best education in the world and whether through the fault of government policies, parents, teachers, the students, or all of the above they are not. Failing and flimsy education from K – 12 creates students that can’t handle real college level work and as a result college level work is dumb down resulting in classes, whether elective or not, on Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Snookie. So while you may not see a connection between this article and my comment (which btw said the American education system NOT just university system) , I do.

    This is about more than just university education, this is about an overall educational system that is not pushing students to be the best can be. But if you can’t figure that out and make that connection then that is on you. Maybe it some more of that flimsy education at work. Either way, I’m done.

  • Guest


  • isolde

    “So yeah there are international student coming to the US but an overwhelming majority are coming from China and India, developing countries.”


    Really? No sh*t.

    Your opening remark was, and I quote, ““I said it once before and I’ll say it again, this is exactly why America’s education system is a joke among developed countries.”

    And now, that that’s been shot to hell, it’s “There aren’t high numbers of say Swiss, Dutch, English, or Scandinavian, or other students from developed countries coming here to get an education.”

    Because the Netherlands, England, and Switzerland are all developing countries, right?
    “Why would they when they can get a better education for much less at home.”

    I’d like to see you prove that “they” are in fact getting a better education at home. (waits for you to link to another Guardian article about 15 year old test takers to prove your point about college level students). ____________________________________________________________________
    “Failing and flimsy education from K – 12 creates students that can’t handle real college level work and as a result college level work is dumb down resulting in classes, whether elective or not, on Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Snookie. So while you may not see a connection between this article and my comment (which btw said the American education system NOT just university system) , I do.”

    You don’t see any connection besides the ones you make up in your head. Practically everyone who attends a 4 year university takes elective courses at some point in their collegiate careers . Elective courses have been around since before any crisis in US k-12. This course is no different from any other humanities or anthropology or social science course.

    You insist upon making this discussion about something that it’s simply not about, and the only really reason why you’re doing it at this point is to try to save face. For the 50 millionth time, this is not a discussion about the state of US K-12. It’s about a college course at Rutgers. You were the one that came in here with that pitiful remark about the quality and prestige of US colleges and universities, and now that that horse has been killed, you still want to beat it. Regardless of what anyone thinks about US K-12, it doesn’t negate the fact that massive amounts of foreign students still pay to study and pursue degrees at US colleges and universities.

    And anyway, how the hell would you know whether or not the course has college level work? Have you seen the course syllabus to determine whether or not the work is college level? No, you haven’t. You saw the words Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and college class and made up your own silly ASSumptions. I mean, it’s just ridiculous at this point.

  • http://thedaughterofafrika.blogspot.com/ African Mami

    lol! YOU my broda or sista are even more ignoranter than me!

  • Guest

    The obvious fact that you think “ignoranter” is actually a word, simply proves my point to the masses. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. How about you invest some of your pocket change in an education. Or better yet… forget the pocket change. Just go sit in the back in one of your nieces’ or nephews’ 3rd grade class and do nothing but LISTEN. I’m willing to wager you’ll learn a thing or two. Like say… I don’t know…. ENGLISH!!!!

  • http://thedaughterofafrika.blogspot.com/ African Mami

    ooooooooooooooooooowiiiii! You is goiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing in!!! Again you are IGNORANTER! Because I said so, and because in actuality you reeealllly realllllly are…….

  • LurkerG

    “Many Black women are threatened by an uber-successful black woman, especially one who is pretty.
    you don’t say, eh? what do her looks have to do with the dearth of her catalog as a “musician”/singer/”songwriter”?

  • charma

    Beyonce’s image is far from being well put together and safe. I cringe every time I are her spread her legs and gyrate sexually all through her videos and performances, darn near naked. And what makes it even more disturbing is that she is a married woman putting all of her goodies on display like that. She is not like the artists of yesteryear. Chrisette Michelle would have been a better example.

  • charma


  • LemonNLime

    @isolde – “Because the Netherlands, England, and Switzerland are all developing countries, right?”

    First of all that was a typo. My bad. The article isn’t about the number of international students enrolling in US institutions. Just because high numbers in international students enroll in US institution doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues with the education system.

    Man you argue like this is your class and you created it. Or maybe you are an educator or whatever. I don’t care. What it comes down to is this, I in addition to many others, believe that there are problems with the US education system, primary, secondary, and university level. If you don’t fix them they trickle down and affect the quality of education at the college level. Just bc international students are enrolling in universities doesn’t add legitimacy to the programs or the system. Some come for the prestige of studying in another country or to work or language or because the programs are better than what they have at home and yes in some cases it might be the best of the best in their field but most are going to fall in the first 3 categories rather than the forth. For you to ASSume that enrolling of international students, who have not been enrolled in the US education system for a majority of their education, is proof that the system is healthy is rather stupid and I hope, no I KNOW, that you are much smarter than that.

    So what if I think the class is a joke? That is my opinion and last time I checked I was allowed to have one. Get over it and MOVE ON.

  • lulu

    i will be so happy when someone else gets the spot light

  • Yea I’m A “Mrs”

    Please, Please, Pleeeasee!!! Do NOT compare Beyonce to ACTUAL songwriters such as
    Tupac, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, and Prince, this is ridiculous. I have much love for Beyonce, but all she is is an ENTERTAINER, point blank. And I wouldn’t be so appalled if it wasn’t for the fact that Beyonce herself wants to take credit for others work i.e Neyo, Rob Fusari. It’s really just annoying, definitely takes away from her likeability, IMO.

  • Coco

    RIDICULOUS!!!!! & we give her too much credit for songs that really aren’t saying anything *deep sigh* drops mic exits stage left

  • DolphinsandPuppies

    Beyonce is fierce!!! Love her! She and J are a power couple that’s handling business.

  • QONewcastle


    “Many Black women are threatened by an uber-successful black woman, especially one who is pretty.”

    Ding ding ding… Beyonce has got it all.

  • binks

    Agreed, that is,why I give this course a side eye she didn’t write most of the songs listed so it isn’t her thoughts or ideas and like mention Beyonce rarely deeply speaks about ideologies that she agrees with ir what she stands for. I agree a hell of an entertainer with a great team behind her but influential …I am not seeing it

  • S.

    Hey “S”,

    This is not the first time you have posted here and every time you do, I ask you to change your name

    WHY is it so hard to see that someone already has the username of “S.”???

    FIND ANOTHER ALIAS for the last freakin’ time

  • shell

    Beyonce didn’t write Bills, Bills, Bills. Kandi from escape wrote it, as well as the majority of the songs on Destiny Child’s first album. Single Ladies was written by the Dream, a young white girl wrote If I was a Boy, and Neyo wrote Irresplacable. She really writes the stupid songs with little depth. I don’t begrude her that. I love Michael Jackson, but we all know a lot of his songs were writtn by Rod Temperton, a white guy from Europe. It’s all about image. We give people too much credit because they can perform on stage without any true musical talent. Prince is the only musician who is truly gifted and deserves a class.

    These pop star classes are not to be taken seriously. Professors are pressured to fill up classes. What better way to do it than a celebrity class. Now, ask me if Beyonce will be in a future African American Lit class in ten to twenty years. I highly doubt it.

  • QuestionEverything

    As a current Rutgers student, I feel like I should inform you that Rutgers did not pay Snooki to “guest lecture.” Snooki was paid for a comedy show out of student funds. Could the funds have been used for a better purpose? Of course. However, students paying for university have a right to decide what type of entertainment they want on their respective campuses. The fact that student would want to even see Snooki speak, speaks to society’s greater concern with the lives of celebrities than the merit of Rutgers University.

    Now for those of you bashing the course, I personally think you are letting your feelings in regard to Beyone’s intelligence, talent or whatever get in the way of seeing the merit that this course possesses if taught in the right way. The term politicizing literally means to cause an activity or event to become political in character. This is precisely what has happened to Beyonce. In our media dominated culture, we often analyze the actions of celebrities and their relation to society and social conventions. Beyonce dances on stage and we argue that she is promoting the over-sexualization of young women. Why can’t it just be that Beyonce is owning her own sexuality? Politicizing is the operative word in this course description. Politicizing reflects how the actions of celebrities are often taken to speak to greater societal concerns. Maybe I’m just a college student tainted by the media my generation grew up in but there is really no need for all the outrage.

  • The Pearl

    Excellent, well thought out, thorough article James. You are incredible. One day I suspect there will be a course taught in your name…and no one will disagree!

  • Sani

    i don’t understand the hostility against her. it comes from a very angry place.

  • Sani


  • Sani


  • Sani

    @D-Money, your statement sounds ignorant. Erykah Badu has not been successful because she’s light skinned, and there is plenty depth underneath that wrap or weave.

    you just spent several minutes explaining why the class is relevant, because of people like you who want to put feminism in chains.

    Beyonce is gorgeous, light, at times flighty, but always genuinely hers, and that’s a statement.

  • Sani

    @QuestionEverything #brilliant

  • Sani

    +1, true. Maybe Estelle? Janelle Monae? Rihanna?

  • Socially Malasjusted

    hey – a male writer,

    one of us just broke through the pink curtain.

    you’re my role model james.

    says hater – meh probably “dated” his way to the top.



  • Pho

    Very impressed with this discussion. As long as we aren’t debating the importance of her songs, we need to look at the stir she causes in all of us. (i feel it too). Good analysis, great discussion.

  • Pho

    I believe Beyonce will be in the classroom 5, 10, 15 , 20 years from now, but in a similar light as MJ or Madonna…pop iconography. But if someone does a really good analysis, she may end up staying in Women’s Studies.

  • Pho

    WHO CARES who wrote the song. If she wrote a piece of it or none at all! She represents what she’s singing about….except it! stop trying to take away from her what she’s put out…just like hatin’ Black women. “Ring The Alarm”.

  • Celeste

    What about a class on Ida B. Wells and other forgotten Black women like her?

    Beyonce is great, but when people think of her they normally concentrate on her looks. Women are always judged by this and it needs to stop. Being beautiful doesn’t mean they’re kind, smart, superior, more worthy of love than someone who isn’t status quo beautiful.

    I like Beyonce, but others are right, I think I would get bored out of my mind if I had to talk about her for a whole semester. There are many other Black women who lead interesting lives, who are not given the time of day for adequate studying.

    Furthermore, Beyonce is not a very controversial person.

  • Selita Eritrea

    African Mami… 1
    Guest… 0
    LOL Everyone needs to chill the eff out. Ufff

  • shell


    Most pop stars barely end up in history books, let alone in classes. The Beatles and John Lennon barely get a foot note. I have yet to be in a class where Michael Jackson is mentioned, even in African American studies.

  • Tara

    I don’t hate Beyonce, but I do think they are giving the girl way too much credit. She doesn’t really write her own songs, and she never speaks about anything political or speak on sociological issues so I don’t understand how anyone can label her a “feminist.” Her suggestive dance moves, songs, and stage costumes play right into this society’s overtly sexual expectations of how women are supposed to be. There is nothing revolutionizing about what this female entertainer is doing, and nothing that Brittany Spears, Christina Aguliera, Josephine Baker, Cher, Marylin Monroe, Lil Kim, countless video chicks…(and the list goes on) haven’t done before.


    Why do people keep saying Black women are hating when??? First off Beyonce owes her whole damn career to black women @QoNew we make up at least 80% of her fan base so have a seat with this mess and just because everyone doesn’t agree on giving her a college course does not mean that people are hating. so stop with these generalizations because black women aren’t even the only ones who aren’t that are sometimes unimpressed with Beyonce which by the way I am not even one of them. But why are black women always generalizing other black women for having opposing opinions and calling them haters because they don’t agree? If you ask me that word is being extremely misused. And as I always say as a black woman Beyonce has so much of my money I couldn’t possibly hate her just because she don’t need to be taught at nobodies college doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy her music and support her but hell Mattew Knowles needs a course before she gets one but if you feel it is necessary then go for it cause I don’t attend this college so it doesn’t directly effect me but my opinion on it still stands and I have a right to have one with out being accused of a hating on another black woman by some fiendish stans,

    I also wanted to add that I think this course equals easy money for this college because Beyonce got almost more stans than money and surely some of them must attend this school so I predict this class will be full pretty quickly and I believe the ultimate goal of doing this is how can we capitalize off of her fan base especially at a time where she is being most talked about because of her pregnancy and I think it was the same with that bug they named after and the kids clothing line that they named after her daughter. But stans can go on believing she’s this profound character who should be studied when she really is just a beautiful over saturated and very talented pop star. And when people see her they see dollar signs. #wakethefuckup #idiots

  • Auri

    Excellent read! These pop star courses weren’t offered at the university that I attended. But honestly, if they were, I would of enrolled (including the Beyonce course).

    As a fan of music and semi fan of Beyonce the question of “has Beyoncé’s impact on the world really earned her a spot amongst, Tupac, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Prince,” is debatable. Yes, she has catchy hits and several songs that empower the ladies which makes her a match for the Women’s Studies Department.

    But her music is not, at all as socially and politically expressive as a Tupac and Nina Simone which excludes the course to be offered in other departments like Black Studies.
    She is a pop star engine who knows her audience and feeds them with what they want.

  • Sparkle

    I don’t know about the course, however I would love to see a syllabus ! What bothers me is that people automatically write off Beyonce because she dresses provacatively (during performances) and asserts her sexuality. For example: “These women often prefer female-empowering artists which conversely display very little over-the-top sexuality, usually wear natural hair styles or head wraps, and always present themselves in a humble light. See: India.Arie, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill.”

    Since when is there a one-size fits all mode for feminism or female-empowering entertainment?? In order for an India.Arie to exist there has to be someone on the opposite end of the spectrum i.e. Beyonce.

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