In this article we discuss the illusions of freedom and the complicated relationship Black women have with institutions of higher education. We suggest Beyoncé’s performance of “Freedom” at the 2016 BET Awards metaphorically and symbolically underscores the experiences of Black women in college. Through a rhetorical analysis of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar’s BET Music Awards performance of “Freedom.” we explore how the venue, visual style, and lyrics symbolize the feelings of unity, frustration, resistance, resilience, struggle, and disposability embodied in the experiences of Black women enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States. Using Black feminist thought and intersectional frameworks we highlight the contemporary struggle for freedom and the failed promises of higher education, and encourage critical media literacy as a way for scholars and practitioners in higher education to allow Black women to own their freedom.
Phelps-Ward, R., Allen, C., & Howard, J. L. (2018). A Rhetorical Analysis of Beyoncé’s “Freedom”: An Examination of Black College Women’s Experiences at Predominately White Institutions. Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education, 16 (2). https://doi.org/10.31390/taboo.16.2.06