Variations (for Deborah E. McDowell)

mah tongue is in mah friend’s mouf —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God Black people’s songs have carried the fire and struggle of their lives since they first opened their mouths in this part of the world. They have always wanted a better day. –Amiri Baraka, “The Changing Same” Deborah E. McDowell’s “New... Continue Reading →

Gender & Genre : Africa & Afro-Diaspora

Jessica Marie Johnson posted a draft syllabus for a class on Black Womanhood. It made me think of what kind of class I'd design to accompany it. She issued a call. This is a response. Gender & Genre: Africa & Afro-Diaspora How can we approach gender and genre across Africa & Afro-diaspora? What possibilities emerge... Continue Reading →

in despair

In 2000, my email signature was, “my heart to yours.” By 2005, it had changed to “best.” Now, I don’t have one. If I did, it might be, “in despair” or “from despair.” Rarely, with those dear to my heart, I write “love.” Perhaps I mean, “love in times of despair.” On Twitter, Prof Grace Musila... Continue Reading →

Category is: Work!

Category is: Live! Work! Pose!—Pray Tell The second episode of Pose focused on work: the care work of being the mother of a house; the political work of challenging transphobic, misogynist, gay white publics; the have-to-eat work performed by Blanca in a nail salon and Angel in a peep shop; the freedom work of expanding... Continue Reading →

Queer Returns

A point of departure: The advent of HIV/ AIDS is the moment that captures the real energies made possible by the outpouring of the carnal pleasures that Stonewall unleashed. Stonewall was queer sexual liberation, alongside heterosexual liberation, but HIV/ AIDS was citizen-making; the distinction is important. HIV/ AIDS worked to produce a very particular and... Continue Reading →


A start: There are only four sisters in this whole conference [in Russia]. In the plane coming to Tashkent, I sat with the three other African women and we exchanged chitchat for 5 1/2 hours about our respective children, about our ex-old men, all very, very heterocetera. As far as I know, the word “heterocetera”... Continue Reading →

April: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Why deny it? I was afraid of freedom. I am no longer afraid! —Paulo Freire Fear of freedom, of which its possessor is not necessarily aware, makes him see ghosts. Such an individual is actually taking refuge in an attempt to achieve security, which he or she prefers to the risk of liberty. —Paulo Freire... Continue Reading →

No Tea, No Shade

A peculiar anxiety marks E. Patrick Johnson’s introduction to No Tea, No Shade. It emerges as repeated assurances that younger scholars respect and follow the work of older scholars. Listen: The black queer “children” who came of age during the burgeoning stages of black queer studies also learned from the lessons of their foremothers and... Continue Reading →

Inxeba: Kwanda

I have been having trouble thinking-feeling about Kwanda—acted by the beautiful Niza Jay Ncoyini. I am always undone by scenes of anti-queer violence, from the insults and bullying to the beatings and killings. I am undone when queerness is treated as a synonym for disposability. Undone because of the impossible demand that truncation not be... Continue Reading →

Inxeba: Readings

What is a black queer diasporic reading of Inxeba? What is an African queer reading of Inxeba? What is a South African queer reading of Inxeba? What is a Xhosa queer reading of Inxeba? By reading, I mean at least two things. First, what does each position—black diasporic, African, South African, Xhosa—bring to the film?... Continue Reading →

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