origin story outlines a family history of distant sisters, grieving mothers and daughters, and alcoholic fathers. These poems take us from Kansas to Korea and back again in an attempt to reconnect with estranged family and familial ghosts divided by years of diaspora. An interrogation of cultural and personal myths, origin story wrestles with the questions: Who will remember us? How do we deal with the failures of memory? Whose stories are told?
My Soul Is a Witness: The Traumatic Afterlife of Lynching by Mari N. Crabtree
Black southerners often shielded their loved ones from the most painful memories of local lynchings with strategic silences but also told lynching stories about vengeful ghosts or a wrathful God or the deathbed confessions of a lyncher tormented by his past. They protested lynching and its legacies through art and activism, and they mourned those lost to a mob’s fury. They infused a blues element into their lynching narratives to confront traumatic memories and keep the blues at bay, even if just for a spell. Telling their stories troubles the simplistic binary of resistance or submission that has tended to dominate narratives of Black life and reminds us that amid the utter devastation of lynching were glimmers of hope and an affirmation of life.
My Soul Is a Witness traces the long afterlife of lynching in the South through the traumatic memories it left in its wake. She unearths how African American victims and survivors found ways to live through and beyond the horrors of lynching, offering a theory of African American collective trauma and memory rooted in the ironic spirit of the blues sensibility—a spirit of misdirection and cunning that blends joy and pain.
In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. In her book, Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America, Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter.
Don’t miss out on this event on September 23rd! The Dr. Conseula Francis Emerging Scholars Lecture Series presents Lelani Sabzalian, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education at the University of Oregon.
This event is also the 1st in the AAST & REI Fall 2021 Virtual Lecture Series Decolonizing the Curriculum: Teaching Race Across the Disiplines!
“SOVEREIGNTY & SURVIVANCE IN K-12 EDUCATION”
Drawing from her book Indigenous Children’s Survivance inPublic Schools, Dr. Sabzalian’s talk highlights the everydayways that Native youth, families, and educators creativelynavigate the colonial dynamics of public education. By sharingstories of Native sovereignty and survivance, she hopes that alleducators will see themselves as responsible for counteringcolonialism and teaching in ways that better supportIndigenous students and Indigenous struggles for self-determination and sovereignty.
JOIN US ON ZOOM. REGISTRATION REQUIRED.
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Don’t miss out on these events this semester! This year’s theme of Decolonizing the Curriculum: Teaching Race Across the Disciplines kicks off with Dr. Lailani Sabzalian (Oregon University) on September 23rd, soon followed by Dr. Jameliah Shorter-Bourhanou (Holy Cross College) on September 30th. Dr. Sabzalian will discuss race, indigenous populations, and educational pedagogy while Dr. Shorter-Bourhanou will discuss how to incorporate race content in philosophy. In October, we will host Dr. Sofiya Noble (UCLA) whose talk will feature her award-winning book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. While Dr. Noble is housed in African American Studies/Women and Gender Studies, this phenomenal work intersects with STEM fields such as computer science and software engineering (one of CofC newest forthcoming majors). Her talk is scheduled for Oct. 27th. Each of these events will be held virtually.
Mark your calendars now! The African American Studies Program presents the 2021Conseula Francis Emerging Scholar Lecture: a conversation with Dr. Danielle Fuentes Morgan about her book, Laughing to Keep from Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century (2020).