It’s a bit weird, you know, when a celebrity needs to get involved in causes outside of self-promotion, particularly education. But that’s precisely what Beyoncé has felt obliged to do in her post as World’s Greatest Woman with the newly announced Formation Scholars award for female students pursuing music, creative arts, literature or African American studies–of course, there is some self-promotion involved in that she created the award to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Lemonade.
The targeted niche she’s chosen to represent the scholarship is, to be sure, an undervalued one, and Beyoncé is a gem for taking the time to offer her talent mining skills (or the people who work for her’s) and bank account to help groom a brighter future for arts driven by women in the United States. At the same time, it’s generally a sign of direness when people are clamoring to apply for a scholarship that hasn’t even yet stated how much of a grant it plans to bequeath to its recipients–the total of which can only be four during the 2017-2018 school year. One supposes it really drives home the point of just how expensive– and therefore perpetuating of the class divide in this country–higher learning is.
And yet, the only universities participating will be Parsons School of Design, Spelman College, Berklee College of Music and Howard University. So that’s kind of limiting. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything. Moreover, many a celebrity-sponsored scholarship can possess an aura of taint over time, like the Camille and Bill Cosby Scholarship in Science. Does a student really want to have to apply for the Formation Scholars award when that song and video turns out to be accepted by all as stolen property?
And, lastly, what does it say about our culture when it takes a famous person backing education to get people excited about it again? Mainly, there’s a reason most other countries view Americans as, well, rather daft–not exactly a learned people. But we love our pop culture.