“when i write, be it fiction or not, i always find it hard to figure out the ending. and then the beginning gets all jumbled up and in need of revision. i think it’s perhaps because when i write, i’ve been writing the same story in many different ways. trying to write my life, i suppose.”—negrosunshine
What are some good readings to recommend to a friend who doesn't know much about race/gender/sexuality or politics but wants to learn?
so sorry it has taken me so long to answer this.
you would have to be a bit more specific for me.
race, gender, and sexuality are massive topics each in their own way. of course all three are connected in very intimate ways. but if i were to be speaking with the friend, i would need to know more about how much they do and do not know, and what exactly they want to learn.
covering the basics would be defining the terms, and their histories and social meanings…
BUT… being the person i am, i would want to politicize the conversation, and ultimately politicize the friend. or more directly, make the friend aware of power relations, and how each term is tied to histories/realities of rhetorical, physical, and psychic violence.
and also being the person i am, i would want to touch on histories of protest.
i think i may be most comfortable talking about race.
on the simplest level: i would point the friend to this website: Race: The Power of Illusion. There are videos, readings, and much more! It’s a good start in understanding the “myth of race” and the trajectory of its meaning. Another awesome resource, though it may be a bit dry for a beginner, is Mark Smith’s book, How Race Is Made
as for gender and sexuality… hmmm, let me think on that. check out the race website and let me know if that helps; venture the book if you have time on your hands.
please bother me again about gender, sexuality, and politics, ill be thinking on an answer.
i am also going to enlist the help of two people i would go to:
@abolitionista, she’ll be teaching soon enough and works with folks who taught me
@jeromeiznice, he sat in classrooms with me and is a pretty smart guy.
if they read this, the should shoot me some of their thoughts, pretty please!!!
or i apologize for this next sentence, y’all. anon, you could follow their links and fill their inbox with the same question, it may produce more fruitful and timely results.
i fear for the position of Black-queers. and i grow weary in my search for an articulation of a radical Black-queer position. perhaps the question posed should no longer be what is the Black-queer position? but rather, what is a Black-queer? giving pause at the hyphen and dealing with the messy non/existence of Blackness and the uncertain, undefined and increasingly antagonistic formation of queer. increasingly it is becoming clear there is great difficulty in piecing together a frame that would truly expose the complexities lived by Black-queer people. an alteration is needed. further analysis is called for.
this Black-queer’s list of grievances:
1) I am Black. I am not saying I am Black first and then I’m queer, nor vice-versa. There are questions of structure, history, and ontology that must be reconciled first before any meaningful analysis of my lived experience can be made. Which is not to drop the question of queer, or deny the (fading) benefits of intersectional analysis. Rather it is to reckon, Blackness interrupts and complicates questions of gender and sexuality (two categories the notion of queer rest upon). Black is Black. Black is the only Black. There is no new Black. Queer does not translate to Black, for if it did, does that make me ahead of this game?
2) Black-queer does not mean Black gay men. Nor does it center around the needs and desires of effeminate, effeminized, and gender non-conforming Black men. In its most notable strides, queer introduces us to nuanced notions of the unstable categories gender and sexuality, and makes relevant questions of performance. Of course we can turn to some pages of Black feminism (particularly the radical scholarship of Hortense Spillers and Saidiya Hartman) to better get at these same points, but in theory (no pun intended) it should all lead us to the Black female position. Black-queer dealings must necessarily raise questions of gender. When Black-queer is spoken or engaged, Black women exist there; our analysis, critiques, insights, and contributions should be thinking this through.
3) There is no contestation between Black heterosexuality and Black queerness. That statement does not erase the lived experiences of Black people. Rather it opens up dialogue on the peculiar relationship between sexuality and Blackness while making relevant the history and trajectory of Black sexuality. This also calls into question representations of the Black-queer body that render it hostage exclusively, and at times mutually exclusive, to Black homophobia and/or visible homonormative culture. Because the hyphen exist, and there is still much to be learned on the position, the ultimate goal should not be inclusion into either Black or queer, but rather to reanalyze both categories and re/present questions of history, structure, and desire.
i search for an articulation of myself outside and within the overly described, preconceived, while still unrecognized and misunderstood storyline of being queer and Black.
and a Black lady sat next to me. she was talking. perhaps to the gods. maybe to herself. or just maybe, her and her spirits were so comfortable they didn’t need any privacy, just a warm summer day in a chicago park. she was talking. and i was unashamedly listening.
she said a little bit about “fuck the founding fathers, they knew.” and my curiosity was immediately peaked. even as the white lady on the other side of the talking Black got up to move to a different bench away from the ‘scene.’ “and then there was the pretty princess” “fuck that jealous Black bitch” “im gunna let these niggas know something”
and as she talked, and talked, and talked, i really wish i was on the inside of what her conversation was about.
On Pro-Blackness and Anti-Whiteness (with a gray area in between-but perhaps that's a mulatto).
yesterday it was charged that i am pro-black (and i chose not to perform my usual capitalization of the word “Black,” because i’m not sure what pro-Black means, but i have a feeling evidence to the affirmative would be capitalization of the word “Black”). i shot back, its not like i walk around in a black leather coat with a shotgun in my hand chanting FREE MUMIA, BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL (despite the occasional presence of a shirt that reads NEGROES WITH GUNS, complete with a picture of Robert F. Williams tutoring a Black woman in uses of a handgun (forgive the capitalization). Or that one black shirt that on the front in big block letters reads, BLACK STUDENT UNION, and on the back is adorned with some words from Fred Hampton, I believe I am going to die doing the things i was born to do. I believe I’m going to die high off the people. I believe I’m going to die a revolutionary in the international revolutionary proletarian struggle (and though the scope of my and Fred’s revolutionary struggle differs a bit, I suppose my shirt can be considered pro-Black, which Fred is very much considered. And upon reflection, if Fred and I ever debated, I think I would be deemed the crazier pro-er Blackety Black Black one; or ‘strange slave’ for short).
so it was charged I was pro-Black, i shot back (see above), and to my surprise and somewhat delight i was countered, well, if you aren’t pro-black, you are certainly anti-white. i smiled, winked, and replied, i’ll certainly give you that.
and there i was, in an all too familiar conversation; defending my choices of study, hobby, and interest. because i enjoy art (a strange slave indeed) and have chosen to focus great attention to the work and theories of Black female artist, i am pro-Black. because i attempt to reckon a rupture, loss, and confusion by tatting an Africa on my left wrist and an Ankh (of the kemetic order) on my right forearm, i am pro-Black. or I am pro-Black because i am interested in (and affected by) the struggles of Black people and have devoted a large portion of my life to studying the Black protest tradition and Black “life” and “culture” (borrowing textual attitude from Hortense Spillers and Frank Wilderson, let’s not pretend the quotation marks don’t matter).
and there it was, because I am apart of, and have chosen to (forcefully) study and speak to, something that has been deemed socially irrelevant i am pro-Black—or perhaps more apt: anti-white. when i fought the notion that my interest in Black “life” automatically makes me pro-Black, i was also countered that being anti-white automatically makes you pro-Black, with the reverse standing, being pro-Black automatically makes you anti-white. An interesting theory that deserves some attention and in my fantasy space of a revolutionary struggle that differs from Fred’s, I would have to say yes to all of it. But for now I will end: being pro-Black (for whatever that means) automatically makes you anti-white if you’re doing it right (to borrow some rhetorical attitude from my friends @JamesBliss and @jeromeiznice). And while I’m not sure being anti-white automatically makes you pro-Black, it should sure enough advocate for a slave revolt (in the Turnerian sense), and I can’t be mad at that.
with the knowledge of the attack on the first PhD class of the African-American Studies Department at Northwestern , i write in solidarity this morning.