Talking Thru Shit

I wrote this post earlier, but failed to click send, then it expired, so I will try my best to work through this again. One departure I found intriguing about our conversation with Durell was the notion of “queering” blackness. In ways this point caused some cognitive dissonance to my heteronormative mind frame because I have only thought about this notion once in an article we read from Dr. Weems. The article worked the confines of how to consider “queering” Native studies and the Native identity. 

Then I read an article written by Derek Conrad Murray entitled: Mickalene Thomas: Afro Kitsch and The Queering of Blackness. He writes the article critically analyzing the work of Mickalene Thomas, a known post black artist who does work that pushed the fault lines of feminist consciousness and racial allegiances. Some of the key words I would take from this piece of literature are: queering blackess, black cool, post blackness, self appointed identity cops, racial trauma, black corporeality, black female gaze, and black artistic cool.

Reading the above piece alongside our conversation with Durell gave me other insight on why scholars, researchers, activist, and performers use the notion of “queering” to get at the fault lines. Our conversation with Durell also helped me shift the conversation in my head on my own research on study abroad. I continually have conversations with people about looking at the construct of study abroad as an aesthetic. What do I mean by this? Instead of looking at study abroad as a Black People Don’t Do That notion,we could do the reimagining study abroad as something all black folk could do if they choose and if they can navigate the barriers and constraints. By viewing study abroad as an aesthetic, we may even be able to understand the connoisseurship of, the performance of, the elitist perspective of, and the language of who studies abroad and why. Always folk ask me the same 2 questions: 1. Did you study abroad? 2. How do we make it more affordable? 

The first question is always a question to make sure that I know what I am talking about. It allows them to check my intelligence on the topic. The second is always the assumed thought that cost is the major factor of why black folk don’t study abroad. To both of the questions I attempt to reframe how people think. Durell’s work with SOLHOT and Dr. Brown’s revolutionary work with SOLHOT as both an academic space and a communal space helped me think of future notions of Black Person Traveling the World Think Tanks and Black People Do Do Dat Work. It also made me think a bit about the work of Fania Davis, the sister of Angela Y. Davis, on restorative justice in Oakland. The RJOY or Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth focuses on interrupting these cycles of punitive school discipline, mass incarceration, and school to prison pipeline for youth of color. 

Why black folks don’t travel abroad, why black folk make up higher rates of the school to prison pipeline, why black students are problematized as at risk, and why black graduate students have a tougher time attaining degrees are linked to why white students succeed on test at higher rates, why Asian students are deemed the “model minority,” why Native folk are stereotyped as “alcoholics, why Latino/as are deemed “illegal” and why Muslims suffered from Islamophobia. The branding of who does what has sociological and psychological implications on groups. The more we understand our destinies as tied together as a rope, the more we can unbraid the destiny of hopelessness and rebraid the destiny of things hoped for. This isn’t a false hope of consciousness, rather a realistic thinking about talking through shit that is messy and not linear. 

In thinking about my own work I have to post five videos that give me energy and aesthetic know to do the work I want to do:

1. Dr. Denise Taliaferro Baszile discussion on Diversity:

2. Toni Morrison and Angela Y. Davis on Literacy:

3. Ai Wei Wei’s Never Sorry

4. Dave Chappelle’s For What It’s Worth 

5. Link to RJOY:

6. Lauren Hil’s Talk to Students:


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