Dear Pregnant Mommies, New Mommies, Veteran Mommies, Grandmothers, Godmothers, Stepmothers, women who serve a maternal role in the lives of those around you, Midwives and Doulas: I am working on a special feature for May's celebrations of Mother's Day and International Day of the Midwife. If you would like to be a part of this celebration, I am asking for a photo of you and your baby (womb side or earth side), and a message about what motherhood means to you.Midwives and doulas, a bit about why nurturing motherhood is important to you. I will be posting these messages and pictures on my website all of the month of May in honor of motherhood. The deadline is April 30th.
This panel proposes to contribute to CESA’s invitation to interrogate the limitations of critical ethnic studies by investigating the relationship between CES and black studies. We aim to pursue this agenda by extending the critical work by black feminists that has complicated our relationship to the transgenerational struggle with slavery’s afterlife, the collective and ongoing assault of antiblack sexual violence.
This panel suggests that despite its vigorous and productive endeavor to renovate the staid field of ethnic studies, CES has nonetheless carried forward some of the former’s antiblack traditions. We aim to investigate how these preoccupations of critical ethnic studies create a “crowding out scenario,” as Frank Wilderson puts it, for ethical accounts of black suffering and struggle. What are these preoccupations that render black subjects captive to non-black interests and fungible backdrops/implicit shadow figures/phobogenic specters for antiblack political claims? Their assumptive logics privilege a comparative methodology that necessarily relies upon a rubric of exploitation and alienation (whether from the dislocations of capital, colonization, patriarchy, or a mutually imbricated, and overgeneralized, process of hierarchical oppression supposedly articulating non-white subjects) as the lingua franca of racialization, and hence, of suffering and justice—overlooking the structural positionality that exceeds the empirical registers of lived experience, identification, or consciousness and in which blackness continues to serve as the human surrogate par excellence.
In her well-known take on bodily subjection, Hortense Spillers reads slavery as the institutionalization of bodily rupture. For Spillers, the articulation of sex, violence, and use means that black people cannot form bodies—they exist, rather, as mere “flesh.” Without bodies to claim as their own, writes Spillers, they are also structurally precluded from claiming “relations” between themselves. For our proposed panel, we will examine how the black studies archive is rendered as the degraded flesh within the critical ethnic studies epistemic framework, and how we might recover the “slave estate” that haunts the field writ large. Tiffany King examines the relationship between black studies and settler colonial studies; Sarah Ohmer explores the connections between black feminism and canonical ethnic studies feminists such as Gloria Anzaldua; and Tryon Woods offers a re-appraisal of recent developments within the critical ethnic studies fold—namely, Roderick Ferguson’s concepts of “queer of color critique” and “comparative racialization.” Central to each presentation is a re-centering of the relations of slavery, what Christina Sharpe has indelibly termed the “monstrous intimacies” of antiblack sexual violence that persistently animate black freedom struggles across the eras.
“Sometimes in black communities we forget that black girls are girls, not little women. My friend then shared with me her own story of being sexually abused and ending up pregnant and in need of an abortion at age 12 because her family members irresponsibly left her with a male family friend. The first time a 12-year-old black girl ever told me she had been raped, I, too, was 12 and she was a friend. The second time, I was a 22-year-old teacher, and the 12-year-old was my student.
I realize now, having heard a version of this story, yet again, that as gut-wrenching as these stories are, among black girls they are not uncommon; they are not even remarkable. So many of the highly educated black women you see went to hell and back before reaching the age of 18. Education has become our drug of choice.
[…]For black girls, educational achievement is not always the best indicator of a stable, happy home life. For me, education offered a goal and reward structure that was predictable and that I could control, simply by doing what was asked of me. In the midst of so many things I could not control, school was attractive. I imagine that for many black girls the narrative is similar.”—Brittney Cooper, "A black girl’s constant fear: Why I thought I’d never live to see 33" (via wocinsolidarity)
Marvin Gaye on why mainstream black singers want to be Pop and not R&B:
"Pop meant selling whites, and R&B or soul meant selling the sisters and brothers back in the neighborhood. Everyone wanted to sell whites ‘cause whites got the most money. Our attitude was—-give us some. It’s that simple."
— From Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye, David Ritz