Ain't I a Diva?

Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy

Non-Fiction - Cultural
392 Pages
Reviewed on 08/23/2019
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Author Biography

Kevin Allred is an author, speaker, educator, and musician who loves Beyoncé and believes knowledge should be accessible to everyone—not just gatekeepers of the Ivory Tower. He lives in Brooklyn with his boyfriend and (possibly demonic) senior chihuahua, Marshall.

Kevin's mission is to facilitate conversations that disrupt America's racist and heterosexist status quo, and to have fun doing it. He's an ex-Mormon from Logan UT, a punk rock indie folksinger, a diligent student of Black feminism, an outspoken outlaw of academia. He holds degrees from Utah State University, UMass Boston, Berklee College of Music, and Rutgers University.

Kevin is the author of Ain't I A Diva?: Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy (Feminist Press @ CUNY, 2019), and his writing has been featured all over the internet.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Ain’t I a Diva? Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy is a work of non-fiction focused on education and socio-political themes and was penned by author Kevin Allred. From a perspective of utilizing the power of pop culture and modern-day icons to examine a range of critical thoughts on feminism, race and modern life in general, Kevin Allred chooses the undeniable star power and influence of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter for his subject matter. Unpicking her lyrics, successes, failures, and influence against a background of writers from Black feminist thought and modern social and political shifts, we discover the true power of Beyoncé’s influence as a reflection of culture and a creator of culture.

I absolutely loved this book from start to finish for its acknowledgment that celebrity has real power in the world and is not something which academic thinkers should turn away from in distaste. Author Kevin Allred presents the old favorites from Bey’s career in the hindsight of social movements and changes that have occurred alongside them, as well as unpicking more recent lyrical endeavors against themes of empowerment, gender, mental health, and self-care. On top of this comes the pedagogical consideration of how this example of a pop icon can be used for the betterment and greater understanding of teaching and learning, which I also found to be highly compelling and effective. Overall, Ain’t I a Diva? Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy is an important work for educators looking at the social world and comes highly recommended.

Gisela Dixon

Ain't I a Diva? Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy is a socio-cultural commentary on black women and their history in America which has been expertly tied in with Beyoncé’s worldwide impact as a megastar pop icon. In this book, Kevin, after an introduction, divides the book into three main parts: past, present, and future woven around Beyoncé’s career and music while analyzing and commenting on the evolution of black women, especially in the history of America. In this, he thoroughly covers and integrates varied but related subjects of the role of race in America including the African American stereotypes, especially in relation to black women, beauty standards and sexuality, gender, pop culture, political power and social hierarchy, the historical dehumanization of blacks in America from the days of slavery, education, social control and power, and much more. There is also a detailed appendix presented at the end of the book with an epilogue.

Ain't I a Diva? Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy by Kevin Allred is a fascinating read and I don’t think I have read a better book that appears to combine diverse elements of education, black feminism, and pop culture, blending them so well together. As a result, this book is not only a detailed narrative of Beyoncé’s songs and albums but also connects the themes in her music and pop status to a wider conversation on race and gender. Kevin writes in an easy, conversational style and makes the book flow from the past towards the future really well. I thought that his research on the subject and grasp of subtle power play at work in society is excellent. This is a must-read for every young person and would make a great educational tool.

Astrid Iustulin

The title of Kevin Allred’s book, Ain’t I a Diva? Beyoncé and the Power of Pop Culture Pedagogy, echoes Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech and reveals what its purpose is. This amazing book-length study explores the influence that Beyoncé Knowles exerts on our society and culture and explores her connection with other prominent African-American women. At the end of a journey where music and social issues interweave, you will realize how determining Beyoncé’s contribution has been for Black feminism and social justice. Ain’t I a Diva? is divided into three sections and explores past, present, and future in relation to Beyoncé’s songs, lyrics, and videos. Allred presents an exhaustive picture and reveals how Beyoncé’s music can be a “blueprint” for a better world and equal society.

Ain’t I a Diva? is the written consequence of a series of courses Allred taught over the years. Its conversational and engaging tone reflects its origin and makes the book an inspiring companion rather than a lecture. I have rarely read an essay written with such clarity and incisiveness. Allred aims at popularizing his message as much as possible, mirroring Beyoncé’s efforts to make her audience aware of the power of Black feminism. I have to say that Allred has successfully done that. His interesting and stimulating remarks convince the reader that Beyoncé has an important role in the fight for gender and racial equality. I appreciate that Ain’t I a Diva? compares Beyoncé to other illustrious Black women because it opens to new perspectives. The hope is that pop culture and Beyoncé will contribute to lead us to a better society.