previous writings

Trayvoning and Distance: Whiteness and the Problem with Pronouns

He distinctly remembers, some decade or so ago – much younger, more rigid and sanctimonious then – saying, “we do not want them to think we accept their sin.” New Spirit of Penn, the University of Pennsylvania’s gospel choir – but what was really, in his mind at least, his choir in the way he tried to own and control, in the way he tried to posture and preach – was asked to sing at the annual QPenn celebration that year (2001). Though there were rumors and a bit of concrete reasoning as to why he was likely a closet …Read more »

I Want New Dreams: On Rachel Jeantel and Citizenship

There was a friend I had once and we spent – in my 20/20 hindsight perhaps – too much time together. Meeting my last year of undergrad, our camaraderie, our communion, genuinely moved me deeply. Even today, maybe, still. But throughout our time together – dinners and lunches, walking and talking – there was a twofold uncertainty: I of his feelings for me and me, my feelings for him. Those days, my life was filled with living into the category of “church boy,” directing choirs and playing the Hammond B-3′s for fun…and income. The son of a preacher man working …Read more »

Corned Beef and Cabbage, Shrimp and Crabs: For Assata Shakur

ONE One would grow weary of the list of foods I generally refuse ingesting: I don’t eat beef or pork, peas or boiled peanuts, and, of course, a lot of things in between. Something about being able to decide what one wants on one’s tongue, what flavors one decides to savor, is something I hold in high esteem. And the food we desire is just as much about placement into worlds as it is about feelings of and needs for satiation. There’s this chocolate I had in the back of my parents’ Oldsmobile years and years ago that I loved …Read more »

“If they come in the morning…”: Gaza and Black Solidarity

one. I want to go outside. When i was a kid, my parents would force my brother and I to leave the interior of the house to play in the backyard – whiffle ball, basketball, hide-n-go-seek, freeze tag – or ride bikes in order to give them some relief from our noise. Theirs was a commendable desire: for us to get fresh air, to see the sunlight, to play with other kids, to exhaust ourselves so that we might sleep. But we were crafty and did not necessarily appreciate such desire, existing on the edge between playing outside and ColecoVisions, …Read more »

the receipts: notes on voting abstention

one.  I was defriended on Facebook this summer after a rather dramatic set of exchanges that took place publicly and I recently began to think about that defriending because I wanted to consider how mishearing and misreading were the grounds through which a purportedly critical analysis of my position was given and how that mishearing and misreading allowed the individual to feel good about himself once he finally clicked “unfriend.” Mishearings and misreadings are often foundational for argumentation, and though one’s argument may or may not, in fact, be correct, because of the straw man against which they contend, incongruity …Read more »

Interrupted Attachments: On Rights, Equality and Blackness

Remaining attached to certain ideals even when – and sometimes, most especially after – privileges that accrue to such concepts have been pointed out and problematized, should force us to ask some serious questions about the relation of citizenship and subjectivity, the relation of citizenship as subjectivity, to ongoing processes of exclusion and violence. The questions would be something like: Who am I? Who do I want to be? Attachments to certain concepts rehearse, reiterate and revise – through an uninterrogated longing and desire to be an individual, a self-determined thing that seeks the power of the state for validation …Read more »

The Love of Black Mothers and the Care of Black Children

I In august of 2011, I had to call my mother – on a cell phone with not a lot of power left because I had been checking Facebook and texting friends, hoping to be released from a CT Scan clinic at Duke Hospital – to tell her that in less than two hours, I would be under anesthesia and that there was a chance (50 percent, I later discovered) I might not wake up. Things, for me, felt as quick as this opening sentence: no time to think about what was happening: just hazy, blurry, rapid movement. It was …Read more »

whitney: an attempt at tribute.

RIP Whitney Houston i’m still in utter and complete shock regarding whitney houston. floored. very saddened. i left church this morning with some seething hope that i’d hear “it was an internet rumor” or a hoax or something. the weird thing is, my parents didn’t allow my brother and i to listen to “secular” music growing up and whitney was no exception. but as i heard of her passing last night, i teared up a bit. i began to think that even with the injunction against non-gospel music, i somehow still knew most of whitney’s songs, even when i was very young. …Read more »

Mamie Till’s Memorial

she wanted the world to see what they had done to her baby, Emmett. so as we quickly approach the day Emmett was violently violated and killed (August 28), i want to consider again the religious ethics that prompted his mother’s — Mamie Till-Bradley — desire for the world to experience the death of her son. of course, we already know that death is anything but uncommon. it is but a part of what we call life, it is the culmination of such lived experience and behavior. death is not unique of itself, so we must know that Till-Bradley was …Read more »

“I met a woman today …”: Concern as Aesthetic Practice

The reiteration :: we already have what we need in order to form a new world, a new world forged out of the material existence of that which already surrounds us. We have love, we have laughter, we have light. We have desire, we have depth, we have darkness occasioning the possibility of secretive and social movement against the grain of the constant, ongoing, perpetual imposition of the violent force of normalcy, hegemony. I write from the sea cost in South Carolina today. And I write because, having visited an open-air market selling boiled peanuts, peaches, squash and shrimp, an …Read more »

In Praise of non-Famous Black Women

As I ran on the treadmill this morning at Duke University, realizing that I am presently a doctoral student in the English program, preparing for my preliminary exams (some call them “comprehensive”) and teaching a course to a group of first years, I realized that I was literally not supposed to be there…on the treadmill…running…at Duke.  You see, while studying during my undergraduate days, I was horribly unprepared for the rigors of the institution, the culture shock that forced me to reconsider class – I thought I was “middle class” until I realized that my parents were much closer to …Read more »

(Not) About Jamal Parris: A Premature Critique of BlackQueer Conservatism

this is a repost of some things i am thinking through and have been for some time now.  lest we forget that the eddie long “scandal” is far from resolved, that conversation needs to be ongoing and intentional. So this is the weird me. Trying to think about my continual relationship and disavowal of what is called the Black Church and what I call BlackChristianity. Personal in reflection by some more general claims, hoping to get somewhere with this theorizing. So as much as I write against a certain BlackQueer conservatism, I write against myself.  This is a follow-up to …Read more »

On the possibilities for beauty; for love.

We live in a hurting and hurtful world.  News reports abound, of course, that makes nihilism a quotidian way of life.  But more than that, it is a viable option for moving through times that give us so little reason to smile, to love, to have joy.  But the beat drops and you see folks nodding their head in a hooptie in the hood.  You see a kid running, laughing, with the biggest smile on his, her or hir face.  And you begin to wonder.  And feel, maybe just slightly, wonderful.  There is beauty in the world, in this world.  Not …Read more »

On Audience

*updated 7/11/10. the video was incorrect. see the correct video below* To begin with an aside, a video: I’m really not down with proselytizing and trying to get folks saved. No. The reason I am interested in this performance is because the singers are, of necessity, blind but there is a background noise – of hands clapping – that features only a female group. I want to be attentive to the gendered dynamics of such performance. On the one side, literally, there are male singers who cannot see the women occupying the other side of the stage. The women are …Read more »

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