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9th International Conference of the Collegium for African American Research


P-292-4

The past and the next in Black queer feminist theorization: ¹ Find Yourself a Friend ¹

Allen, J. 1
  • 1. Yale University, Department of African American Studies, Department of Anthropology, LGBT Studies, New Haven

As Roderick Ferguson reminds us in Aberration in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique, Black feminist ¹ s uninvited interventions in Black politics, arts and letters first demonstrated that submerged, discredited or alternative knowledges produced at the interstices of violence, silence, invisibility or forgetting, exposed a wider horizon of political possibilities than had been imagined previously. Continuing in this insurgent intellectual tradition, Black transgender, lesbian, bisexual and gay artists and activists in the US − rooted in the Black Feminist and Black Liberation movements of the 1970s, and responding to the important political and social shifts of the 1980s and 1990s– revealed spaces within blackness that had been concealed and silenced, ¹yield[ing] unexpected ways of intervening and make[ing] space for something else to be ¹ (2004). They not only developed a trenchant critique of heteronormativity and its intimate connection to racism, sexism and classism, but they also practiced their positions through popular education, organizing and artistic work.

Here, I take seriously M. Jacqui Alexander ¹ s recent suggestion that one of the key epistemological interventions of our work is, perhaps, to think −live − write contradictions of genre, discipline, materiality, spirituality and affect together. Hence the central trope of friendship, found in everyday interactions and in literature and political organizing. I intend to construct a −genealogy of the present moment, using ethnography, poetry and short stories, and black feminist theorization. The paper will highlight and draw comparisons between the work of contemporary (living) black queer writers from the US and the Caribbean who reflect similar political and affectual commitments first drawn out by artists, activists and scholars like Audre Lorde, Essex Hemphill, Pat Parker, Barbara Smith, and Joseph Beam (Joe). In this fraction of a moment − fractious time, in which Joe ¹ s ¹ cold-blooded ¹ nights feel like nuclear winter and complicitous echoes broadcast on innumerable cable channels, podcasts, blogs iphones, and voices in my head; this intervention is an offering toward a re-thinking of the project of black queer diaspora.


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