Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Katie Kane

Commitee Members

Brady Harrison, Marton Marko


Beyoncé, JAY-Z, Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad, white supremacy, critical race theory, prison abolition, mass incarceration, intersectional feminism, The New Jim Crow


University of Montana

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Literature | American Popular Culture | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Visual Studies | Women's Studies


This thesis focuses on the ways in which white supremacy created mass incarceration, specifically mass incarceration of black individuals, and how this continues to perpetuate a racial caste system in the United States. First, I examine contemporary novelist Colson Whitehead‘s The Underground Railroad to provide a historical background of white supremacy and slavery. Then, I argue that pop culture is one area in which artists are focused on the abolition of the prison-industrial complex and ending mass incarceration. Finally, I focus on JAY-Z‘s music video “The Story of O.J.“ and Beyoncé‘s visual album Lemonade and her 2018 Coachella performance to exemplify exactly how popular culture fights to end both mass incarceration and the racial caste system in the United States.



© Copyright 2018 Corina Sacajawea Ambrose