Week 4 Post – Sarge Kinlin

This week was a pretty big week for me in terms of my perception of myself as an Africana scholar. In doing this week’s readings and watching the in class videos (especially the Flo Kennedy interview) I was reminded heavily of a discussion Porshai, Professor Carter, and myself had in our thesis class wednesday morning. We are reading “Sovereignty of Quiet” by Quashie and in his anaylsis of “Maud Martha” by Gwendolyn Brooks her discusses the importance of the daily/ordinary life of Black women in Africana studies. The realization I came to is as follows. Throughout my time studying Africana the emphasis of most all of my classes has been resistance. While I believe in the fundamental importance of understanding resistance to oppression as a inescapable reality of Black life in America, I think that it overshadows the equal importance of the normality of being Black in America. What I mean by this is simply that as important as it is to teach the history of resistance of Black people in America, it’s equally important to teach the non-resistance as it relates to agency. “Maud Martha” is a fantastic example of a Black woman choosing to remove herself from the duality of resist or be oppressed. In this novel, Maud (the protagonist) analyzes her daily situations and uses her own agency to determine the outcome–in doing so, choosing not to resist is empowering in the sense that she has directly chosen the outcome of any given interaction. I think in recognizing that choosing when to resist and when not to is an indicator of agency, a whole new world of study/perspective is unlocked. The conclusion I’ve come to is that as hard as we fight to remove the myriad false and terrible stereotypes of Blackness in America, we have accidentally projected a new stereotype on to the Black community. We are projecting the stereotype of Black as resistance. While this stereotype is substantially more positive than many of the others, it is still forcing a part of the Black population who actively choose not to resist into this label. I struggle with this because I’m not sure if it’s positive or one step forward 2 backwards–I think in creating a society that values everyone evenly stereotypes (no matter positive or negative) can’t be prominent in the minds of the majority (not racially defined here, simply used as a measurement of population). I’d love to hear what some people think of this theory, I’ve been battling it out in my head ever since class Wednesday and I’m still unsure of how I feel about it.

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One thought on “Week 4 Post – Sarge Kinlin

  1. I think the danger of your theory is falling into a (false) binary/dichotomy. The problem is that we operate under the western epistemological framework left to us by the ancient Greeks, i.e., the exclusive binary of “either/or.” So one reading your theory through the lens of “either/or” might come away with Black=non-resistance=passive=no agency. I know that isn’t what you mean but it is what people WILL hear. Rather you should be explicit about subverting this western epistemological framework and substituting the ancient African one of inclusivity, i.e., “both/and.” We find empowerment BOTH when we resist injustice AND when we assert our humanity by going through our daily lives. What do you think?

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