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Beyoncé Knowles in the classroom: Black feminism and the study of social change

Allred’s desire to merge his passion for music traditions with his interest in the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in the United States emerged during his undergraduate and graduate studies. He holds two degrees in American Studies – a bachelor’s from Utah State University and a master’s from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

As a doctoral candidate at Rutgers, he is currently writing his dissertation on the ways black female performers manipulate their vocal qualities, including tone, timbre, and pitch.

Growing up a white gay male in a relatively homogenous community in Utah, Allred spent a lot of time in the library. There, he discovered black feminist texts, including the works of Audre Lorde, Octavia Butler, and Toni Morrison.

“Their work resonated with me in ways that other content hadn’t,” Allred says of the black feminist scholars. “I found myself identifying with their writing because racism, sexism, homophobia, and privilege are larger systems under which we all operate.”

Allred only assigns his students writings by black women for “Politicizing Beyoncé” as black feminism is an academic discipline replete with identity politics.

“Of course, there are people who’ll say, ‘You’re not black. You’re not a woman,’” he says of his research and teaching interest. “It’s something I’m always questioning and staying aware of so as not to overstep any bounds or make any claims for a group that I don’t belong to. It’s a fine line and I want to remain respectful of that.”



 

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