5/4/2020 0 Comments
“Mothering, radically defined, is the glad gifting of one’s talents, ideas, intellect, and creativity to the universe without recompense” -- Preface by Loretta Ross in Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines 
“And I want to say to children, tell me what you think and what you see and what you dream so that I may hope to honor you. And I want these things for children, because I want these things for myself, and for all of us, because unless we embody these attitudes and precepts as the governing rules of our love, and of our political commitment to survive, we will love in vain, and we will certainly not survive.”
-- “The Creative Spirit: Children’s Literature” by June Jordan in Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines 
As we prepare for Mother’s Day on May 10, 2020, we should take a moment to celebrate the mothering labors we have received and given, to acknowledge our ancestors (biological, chosen, spiritual, and intellectual), and to reflect on the networks of care in which we are enmeshed. This blog post was written by three black women academics and mothers - two anthropologists and one sociologist, two junior faculty and one tenured department chair, two married moms and one single mom. Recently, Caroline Kitchener interviewed two of us for an article in The Lilly about women academics submitting fewer journal articles during the pandemic. As scholars and mothers, we were inspired to write this blog to more fully share our stories. It is our hope that by being transparent about these struggles, and sharing our concerns and points of clarity, we can build community and remind readers who are sheltering in place that they aren’t alone in their struggles. We also hope to illuminate the connective tissue that connects our shared kinwork as mothers.
Erica L. Williams
The impact of the pandemic on my academic work life has caused me to reflect on Cite Black Women Guiding Principle #5 - “Give Black Women the Space and Time to Breathe.” We need uninterrupted time to sit, think, read, and write, especially when we are in the generative and creative phase of writing new work. But that is exactly what is in short supply as work-from-home + homeschooling academic mamas during this pandemic: the imagined “work/life balance” of the academy is dissipating for black mothers during this crisis.
I occupy a privileged position as a tenured Associate Professor and department chair who lives in a house my partner and I own. We live on a tree-lined street in Atlanta with a wooded trail at the end of our street and in close proximity to grocery stores. I have a partner who is also working from home and who is committed to an equitable division of labor in our household. Since sheltering-in-place began, , we have gone back to a strategy that we used when our son was an infant - split shifts. My husband takes responsibility for our son in the mornings until about 1pm and then I take over until about 6pm. That way we each get a few hours each day to focus on our work. “Work,” no longer means writing for me though. Now, my work time mostly consists of carrying on the business of the College and my department - advising students, teaching classes, grading, Zoom committee meetings, etc.
In the afternoons after my morning “work shift”, I switch gears to immerse myself in homeschooling activities with my son. We do music and movement, storytime, phonics lessons, science and math. We also do worksheets that my husband and I print out from the internet, so that he can practice writing letters and numbers, identifying sight words, counting and simple math. Sometimes we also take it easy and do puzzles, play Scrabble or Jenga, go for nature walks on the trail near our house, or cook dinner. We want to ensure that he will be ready to enter kindergarten next year.
If teaching and service were the only expectations placed on me as a scholar, perhaps my current extra demands wouldn’t be so bad. However, as scholars, we are expected to produce knowledge and participate in an intellectual community. I have two book projects in progress that I have not touched since the pandemic began. “In the before” I used to have a weekly writing group at a cafe with two other academic mamas. We would gather right after dropping off our kids at school and sit together for 2-3 hours. One of them was doing a daily writing challenge with the goal of writing at least 30 mins a day during the semester. I decided to join her, so I made a cute little Excel spreadsheet where I would log my writing times. I didn’t meet my goal of writing every day before everything changed, but I would at least get in a few days a week.
Now, I have to compress a full-time job into half a work-day and a few stolen hours on weekends, evenings, and early mornings. Instead of texting for writing accountability, my writing group texts just to see if we are making it through the day. My cute little Excel spreadsheet, where I had planned out all of my writing projects, is now collecting dust. I no longer have time to squeeze my academic projects into the day. That’s just it: What is particularly challenging for us as academic moms right now is that many of the strategies for success that we learned in graduate school or on the tenure track, such as having firm boundaries around our time, have been completely upended by this crisis.
I agree with Erica. My privilege right now is undeniable. I have retained my job and my paycheck, as has my husband. He, I, and our two children (9 and 4), live in a home we own. My family is healthy, our neighborhood remains uncrowded, our cupboards stocked. Shelter-in-place is doable.
As someone who was raised by a single mother and grew up below the poverty line in a subsidized townhome with three siblings, I know acutely how differently this pandemic might feel to me if I did not have the job security, autonomy, and privilege of being an academic on the tenure track. If this hit 15 years ago, I know I would witness my mother creatively try to stretch the stimulus and unemployment payments as far as she could and rely on additional donations to sustain us. We wouldn’t have a computer to do the distance education programs, furthering educational gaps already shaped by our social class. Having to manage our emotions on her own with no breaks, might have broken all of us.
Every single time I find myself gasping for air as I attempt to balance teaching, writing, service, homeschooling, pre-k, and household chores, and existential worry about the world, I think about my privilege. I tell myself that I am ok, that the kids will be ok; I exhale.
I exhale. But the stress I feel is real. Despite the protections that I have and that I give gratitude to every day, it is true that I am struggling. I cannot do it all. I have never claimed to do it all, and yet, I am put in a position where I feel I have to do it all. I am an advanced assistant professor and sometimes feel I can audibly hear the clock ticking in my head. I have taken the tenure extension but my dormant book project- the thing that my last review said will hurl me over to promotion- haunts me. I average two zoom meetings a day, responding to my students, research teams, phd candidates, department needs, student org advising. I work every day, even on the weekend which was never my thing, but my time to write is minimal nonetheless. Schedules are jokes. None of us seem to have bedtime anymore.
My kids are struggling too. My sons are crazy active, both already in sports, are often now just stir crazy. The zoom meetings, classes, and webinars do little for them and their want of social interaction. My short fuse means I fuss way more than I’d like. They are not getting a rigid curriculum right now because I cannot sustain it. My husband, a school principal, is tasked with managing school lunches, distance learning, teacher, student, and parent concerns- restricting the time he has to instruct our kids too. At least youtube makes them laugh.
When I see that journal submissions are down from women authors, I laugh and think “of course they are.” I know how the pandemic, work-from-home, and distance learning for k-12, takes a toll on all that I have... even though I have so much. I also know that parents doing it solo are taking additional tolls, as are those in contingent positions. I also know that the gender aspect extends to women who don’t have children, given the ways we are socialized and the structures in place that make us caretakers of families and communities. I know that this impacts Black women for the ways we are asked to mother, as mothers to children or not.
Asking us to do it all is not sustainable, nor is it equitable. I try to remember my mantra of “just be good” as I inhale and exhale. For me, being good enough is a radical approach to role overload and a survival strategy, especially for mothering in the academy while Black. In that approach, I focus on what is most important and shape schedules around those things. And then, I aim to be good enough at them. This is because if I try to excel at one thing I typically let the ball drop on another; Lynn Bolles tells us being multitask oriented is a key to survival for Black women in the academy. My covid-clarity is to be good to myself, my family and children, and my immediate job tasks. And to always, remember to breathe. These tasks are more easily achieved, however, when we are given, through policies and resources, more time and space to breathe.
It’s a Monday afternoon. My son and I gear up for the next activity in our makeshift homeschool. It has increasingly become a blend of school-provided worksheets, community-based learning Zooms, and our own creation of assignments that speak to some of the questions he has about the world. One day, my son wanted to know what I do for research, and if he could do it, too. I talked about ethnography and interviewing. He decided that he wanted to interview me for school. I asked him to prepare at least five, open-ended questions for our interview.
After my prompting to begin the interview with a descriptor, the interview opened with his enthusiastic introduction, “I’m asking her about things she does and things she is.” As adorable as that tag was, youngblood didn’t hold back any punches. I paused, inhaled, and proceeded to answer his questions. I include a transcribed excerpt from our interview below.
Kid: How hard is it being a Mom?
Mamademic: () Whew! How hard () that’s a really good question. Umm () how hard is it, how hard is it? It is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, it’s also very rewarding. Umm, it just depends. You know some days are easy days and
Kid: Some days are harder. Mostly hard.
Mamademic: No. They’re not mostly hard. They’re mostly in the middle, but it definitely is () involves a lot of sacrifice.
Kid: Do you have fun being a Mom?
Mamademic: I do. I do have fun being a Mom. I’m lucky because I have a very fun kid who’s very funny.
Kid: Why is that?
Mamademic: I have a son who’s very funny who likes to make lots of jokes.
Kid: By the way that’s me.
Mamademic: (laughing) There are things we do I really like. I like dance parties. Sometimes you ask me questions that are really funny. I really like comic book Marvel movie () um () culture you know what I mean?
Kid: We’re Marvel people. A bit of DC, but mostly Marvel.
Mamademic: We have stuff we do that I really like doing, and I wouldn’t want to do with anybody else.
I was honest in my responses. It is a challenging and beautiful life trying to balance the labors of mothering and scholarship. There is the joy of having a son who wants to know you better. There is laughter. Yet, perhaps some of the readers noticed the pauses (), the umms, and repetitions that permeated my responses. There are good days, bad days, and worse days. The days in the middle are often attended by feelings that I am failing at one, if not, both aspects of the work-life divide. The rough days may fall into the realm of the ellipsis waiting for the readers who know, who have the context to understand, who can fill in the spaces between the words.
As a single mother and junior faculty member, it has always been difficult to make sense of the irreconcilable and even warring spheres of work and life. The work context precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated this tug-of-war. Without access to my office space, the library, and most importantly face-to-face interactions with research collaborators, what counts as “work” is its own work-in-progress. My unexpected transition from a sabbatical research year to working from home while simultaneously educating my child has also required us both to revise our understandings of “school.” These new re-definitions take place amidst a context in which the gender divide in research productivity is heightened.
Most days still end in the middle, with good and bad days peppered in. Nonetheless, the crossroads of my aching intersections also hold insights. I list three “Covid Clarities” that have helped me traverse my insecurities about sustaining work productivity and maintaining my increased educational and caregiving responsibilities.
Covid Clarity #1: Sometimes we can’t count on intelligibility.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “I don’t know how you do that,” in reference to the work-life hustle, I would have…well a lot of dollars. There are times when it is necessary to outline the inequitable workloads we carry as women. There are also instances when doing this translational work ad infinitum can become too taxing. As I often teach in my classes on religion and race in the United States, “Privilege is blindness.” Some people can’t see, and some people are invested in not seeing because of the discomfort that a new world view might instigate. You know what load you carry, and if you’re fortunate you have people who understand that load. Too much translation of these inequities to people who may not understand in this moment can drain the cognitive and temporal resources we need to survive, make order, make meaning, and provide care in this unprecedented moment.
Covid Clarity #2: Intellectual production is communal.
Though the dominant model of intellectual production tends to award single-authored manuscripts, outstanding ideas are instigated, nurtured, and co-produced in community contexts. This year, I benefited from dynamic conversations with the 2019-2020 class of fellows at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and was challenged to think of art, gender, labor, embodiment, and visuality in ways that will undoubtedly shape my work for years to come. One of my fondest memories was coming together to knit a blanket to give a new mother and daughter in our fellowship class. There was laughter and learning and mistakes and food and survivorship and mentorship. We made ourselves as we made a thing.
Witnessing fellow womxn-of-color anthropologists share their gifts as dance teachers, yoga instructors, and artists via online courses, creating emergent mutual aid networks by sharing information, resources, and experiences, and writing to, in, and from this moment has never made me more honored to be an anthropologist. Moreover, emergent thoughts and ideas about how fieldwork is being changed by a new state of immobility along with ongoing work of scholars like Aimee Villareal and David F. Garcia (2019), who in their Anthropology News article have argued for creating an “anthropology of anthropolocura” that is “political, decolonial, and intersectional,” makes me genuinely excited about the kinds of anthropology we can conceive and give birth to in this moment. Kinds that are kinder to our social locations and intersections, where we can write with and from our mother places.
Covid Clarity # 3: We need new reference points.
Comparison tends to be a one-way ticket to unhappiness. It is important to have role models, and archetypes whose accomplishments can inspire. It is important to share strategies and to have mentors for the different parts of your life. Nonetheless, solely using paragons of productivity who share few to none of your caregiving responsibilities or dimensions of lived experience may leave you lost as last year’s Easter’s egg. We need new models of well-rounded productivity and gentle networks of wellness and accountability for this moment. We need people who will help us breathe while inhabiting the life side of the work-life paradigm, because a lot of life (a lot of everything) is happening, now, fast, inside and outside of our doors. And, to use the words of Audre Lorde to depict what my colleagues are demonstrating in this moment, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
As black women, mothers and academics, we can look to ourselves and foremothers, othermothers, co-madres, and colleagues as sources of inspiration and accountability. We can also create networks of aid, recognition, and scholastic production that makes use of collaborative models of writing (like this blog post). But most importantly, we can take a moment to play, do those puzzles with the young ones, laugh, pause and make space for Marvel movies. Then, on the bad days, we can breathe, and inhabit our versions of “good enough.”
 Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines. 2016. Edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams. PM Press.
Caroline Kitchener. April 24. TheLily.com https://www.thelily.com/women-academics-seem-to-be-submitting-fewer-papers-during-coronavirus-never-seen-anything-like-it-says-one-editor/?fbclid=IwAR1GUwBPiUh9MiT92jDNtIwlbgcKcQIb3QGHvTBIq38fNvm7FZtCUYid3tQ
 Bolles, Lynn. 2013. “Telling the Story Straight: Black Feminist Intellectual Thought in Antropology” Transforming Anthropology. 21(7):57-71.
Whitney Pirtle is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and affiliated faculty in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Public Health at the University of California Merced. Her areas of expertise are in race and nation, racial/ethnic health disparities and equity, Black feminist sociology, and mixed methodologies. She has also written about being a mother in the academy for Chronicle and Inside Higher Ed.
Todne Thomas is an anthropologist who specializes in religion, race, and kinship, is an assistant professor of African American religions at Harvard Divinity School and a Suzanne Young Murray Assistant Professor at Radcliffe.
Erica L. Williams is Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology department at Spelman College. She has a Ph.D. and M.A. in Anthropology from Stanford University. Her books include Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements (2013), and a co-edited volume,The Second Generation of African American Pioneers in Anthropology (2018).
5/4/2020 0 Comments
April 25, 2011: ok, I think I get it now: when you feel like you absolutely have no time for anything else, that's when making time for self-care is the most important. I'm feeling so good and clear and productive after my morning workout on my 2 lectures day.
I enjoy looking at the memories that pop up during my morning scroll on my Facebook timeline. When this little gem popped up a few days ago, I immediately shared it because it seems all the more relevant now. My 4 year old son has been out of school since Friday, March 13, so I have now been a work from home/homeschooling mama for six weeks. This time has made me reflect a lot more on the self-care practices that are life-sustaining for me.
Another flashback: on November 5, 2012 I published “A Black Academic Woman’s Self-Care Manifesto” on The Feminist Wire.At the time, I was on my 4thyear of the tenure-track at Spelman College. I was unmarried with no small children. I prided myself on being able to set firm boundaries around my time:
“For me, self-care quite simply means setting boundaries on how and when I work. I refuse to run myself into the ground by working around the clock with no time for rest and relaxation. The academy tends to privilege a lack of sleep, workaholic tendencies, and scholarly productivity at the expense of everything else. I refuse to sacrifice my nights and (whole) weekends for work. Evenings are reserved for exercise, family time, home-cooked meals, and general “down time,” and I will not be made to feel guilty about that.”
Oh, how times have changed. Now I am a tenured Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department. Now I am a whole married woman with a 17 year old stepdaughter (who lives with us full-time as her mother is in another country) and a 4 year old son. Now we are living in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused changes to our lives that we have never seen before, nor could we have ever anticipated. Now I have to figure out how to do my full-time job in a half a day so that I can spend the other half of the day homeschooling my 4 year old. There is no boundary between work and home. Work life bleeds into home life bleeds into work life… Many of you may be managing similar struggles, trying to figure out a healthy routine in these unprecedented circumstances.
In times like these, being committed to self-care becomes even more important. As someone who suffers from anxiety and a family history of diabetes, I feel an even stronger need to take physical exercise and stress relief very seriously. Here are some things I’ve been doing:
I’ve been taking full advantage of virtual offerings to get workouts in. “In the before” I was never big on home workouts. I loved doing exercise classes – I belonged to a kickboxing gym, and had a Classpass membership that would allow me to try out different fitness classes in studios around metro Atlanta. However, luckily I had begun building up my home workout equipment “in the before” I got a yoga mat, cushion, blocks, and strap; got 5, 10, and 15lb dumbbells, and resistance bands. My kickboxing gym has my favorite coaches posting videos, so sometimes I do that as my workout. There is a nice (not crowded), wooded trail near my house, and my son and I go for walks on it a few times a week. An Afro-Colombian dance and Zumba teacher has been teaching dance/Zumba classes 3x a week on Twitch for free, and I have joined into her class as often as possible. Also, Classpass has expanded to offering members an opportunity to sign up for livestream classes all around the world – and some are for 0 credits! I only pay $12 a month for a certain number of credits for classes, and if classes are in the low range then I can squeeze in quite a few per month. I have done yoga, HIIT, and meditation classes via Classpass livestream offerings. They also have workout videos posted. I also have a once-weekly workout via Zoom with a friend who lives in Chicago, and join into an NYC friend’s workout class two mornings a week. After a few weeks, getting my daily dose of exercise has finally become a habit. It makes me feel good, strong, refreshed. Sometimes I’ll do it at 8am or 6:30pm, depending on what I have going on for the day.
What ideas do you have about self-care during the pandemic? What works for you?
Dr. Erica L. Williams is Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College. She is also a member of the Cite Black Women Collective. Her full bio is available on our Collective members' page on this site.
3/30/2020 0 Comments
On March 19th, the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro announced its first death from the COVID-19. She was a 63-year-old hypertensive and diabetic domestic worker who was taking care of her employer, a 62-year-old woman who lives in the upscale Leblon neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. The employer had just arrived from Italy—one of the countries hardest hit by the virus so far—and did not advise her domestic worker that she was sick. Although the woman was in isolation after her trip (“selective confinement”), she still relied on her domestic worker to come in, clean and take care of her—an aspect of social distancing that few are discussing. As the Coronavirus pandemic paralyzes the world, poor Black women in Latin America are particularly vulnerable to the disease and no one seems to care.
At first, it seemed as if Coronavirus was primarily impacting the white, the rich, and the elite. Yet, over the past week, stories out of Brazil reveal the vulnerability of those who take care of those who are infected (with our without symptoms) beyond hospitals. In Brazil, Black women disproportionately work as domestic workers, and domestic workers are particularly vulnerable, and invisible in our discussions of the dangers of the disease.
Several recent cases across Brazil reveal the risk that domestic workers face. A businessman from Rio de Janeiro received the news from his doctor that his test was positive for CODVID-19 by telephone. The man infected was in a steakhouse, surrounded by friends and his wife, who was later infected as well. Although the two went into isolation, their maid-- the only person who lives with the couple, and who now works in "gloves and masks"-- did not count as someone that should be put in isolation.
In Bahia, my home state in Brazil, this pattern repeats itself. The first case of a person infected was in the city of Feira de Santana. The first person infected, a 34-year-old womanreturned to Brazil from Italy carrying the virus with her. She was tested for the virus in a private hospital. However, despite orders to remain "in isolation", and monitoring by the state health secretary, the woman’s42-year-old domestic workeralso became infected. The domestic worker’s 68-year-old mother became the third infected.
Historically, Black women have been the hands that clean up after the world. However, recently two trends have made this work more precarious. On the one hand, neoliberalism has continued to devalue domestic, leading to less stability and continued low pay. On the other hand, austerity measures have meant that funding for cleaning at the state level (in schools, universities, public places) has been cut drastically in places like Brazil, putting us all at risk. There is a direct connection between austerity, the risk we face with public hygiene, a reduction in public services like funding for university education, and the vulnerability of domestic workers. Here in Brazil, our university campuses get dirtier by the day. In 2016, the federal government cut public spending and investment in health care and education drastically. One of the first signs of this cut was the outsourcing of cleaning staff. Composed mostly of Black workers, government-contracted cleaning teams that were not fired became overloaded by extra shifts and extra work.
Now, as the world waits for a Coronavirus vaccine, personal hygiene and aggressive cleaning of public spaces are the most effective way to fight the proliferation of the virus. Most often this means that our health and our very lives are in the hands of the domestic workers who clean our public and private spaces—and across the Americas that frequently means Black women.
Last Saturday I was on the campus of the Federal University of Bahia and one of the bathrooms was spotless. A Black worker, alone, almost compulsively cleaning the men's and women's bathrooms at the same time. Yet while this one woman was working above and beyond to try to keep us safe, at my campus outside of the city limits, the bathrooms remain dirty because the workers who once cleaned them have been laid off. My university, the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia, has suffered from recent federal government cuts in education. Most of the classrooms smell like mold and have no ventilation. Oftentimes we do not have running water or hand sanitizer. Undervaluing domestic work has a direct impact on our health.
Cleanliness has a race, gender and class. The other day I was watching a popular news program. One infected and isolated interviewee said, "The worst thing about quarantine is having to cook your own food." Another claimed that she had never imagined herself infected with a virus like this. In other words, many of the privileged elite who contract the virus believe that getting sick from epidemics is a thing of the poor. It is as if it were an “uppity virus" , that blindly disrespects social hierarchies, throwing everything upside down.
What did the privileged expect from this pandemic? They expected COVID-19 to be like dengue fever, zika and chicungunha-- “poor people’s” diseases that afflict spaces neglected by the state (these diseases are linked to basic sanitation issues like access to clean, running water). When poor and Black people were the disproportionate victims of rabid disease, no one seemed to care. Now that the white elite are particularly in focus, the sense of social responsibility has shifted, yet Black women still remain particularly at risk.
Domestic workers depend on Brazil’s university health care, use public transportation, live with their families daily, and cook their own food. Many of them work informally and do not receive sick leave or qualify for unemployment should they have to stay at home. What happens when their kids' schools close? Are they allowed to stay at home? If isolation means that infected people are distant from other people, why don't they count? It is time for us to consider the race, gender, class dimensions of this global pandemic.
* Credits: A mão da limpeza (The Hand of Cleanliness) is a composition by Gilberto Gil and is on the album A raça humana - The human race, which by the way is very relevant for the moment and we should listen all these days that we are at home… for those who can afford to work From home.
Luciana Brito is an historian, member of the Black Women's Network of Bahia, and identifies herself as a black intellectual and working-class feminist. She is a professor in the Department of History at the Federal University of Recôncavo da Bahia-Brazil, specializing in the history of slavery and abolition in Brazil and the United States. She is also interested in the areas of race, gender and class in the Americas. She is the author of several articles and the book Temores da África, which will soon be published in English. Instagram: @lucianabritohistoria
On Friday, March 6th, I had the pleasure of interviewing two prolific scholars in the field, Drs. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross on their most recent coauthored book, A Black Women’s History of the United States(Beacon Press, 2020). As a history graduate student, I am always thinking about the gaps in the literature including the underexplored topics, so when I asked Drs. Berry and Gross if their work was picking up on themes that they thought were missing from the previous generation of historians, their response problematized my original question. Instead of approaching the field of Black Women’s History through the lens of critique, they informed me that they were interested in showcasing how the scholarship has evolved over the last two decades. It was not that pioneering historians like Paula Giddings, Deborah Gray White, Darlene Clark Hine, Sharon Harley, and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham lacked analytical substance. Rather, the newer generation of scholars are asking different questions and developing innovative methods to recover black women’s voices in archives bent on erasing us. Drs. Berry and Gross remind us that we stand on the shoulders of black women historians who labored before us, and as we expand the field, it is necessary to acknowledge and cite their foundational works. A Black Women’s History of the United States traces our history in the Americas from before slavery to our central role as the backbone of contemporary movements against persisting injustices.
In writing such an expansive survey of Black women’s history, Drs. Berry and Gross discussed the process of collaborative work. They highlighted the manuscript workshop with their “Sister Scholars” in the field, and how it was through consulting with other black women historians that they received feedback and suggestions on themes and approaches for the book. For example, from the Sister Scholars workshop, Drs. Berry and Gross got the idea to start each chapter with a narrative of a black woman’s experience to correspond with a new periodization. In these anecdotes, we learn about figures that disrupts traditional histories of the U.S. like Isabel de Olvera, a free woman of African descent, who migrated to the U.S. before 1619. And even others, such as Aurelia Shines, a black woman who challenged Jim Crow’s segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat in 1948, seven years before the infamous Rosa Park’s protest in Montgomery. While their work foregrounds the ways black women navigated the double oppression of race and gender, Drs. Berry and Gross’ analysis refuses to place our history as purely oppositional or only existing to combat white supremacy. Instead, A Black Women’s History of the United States accounts for both black women’s resistance and liberation struggles, and their leisure activities through travel, art, and the erotic.
Drs. Berry and Gross helps us rethink black women’s intellectual labor as a collective, which reframes our professional pursuits. As we move in a space like the academy that is designed to monopolize and capitalize on our movement and labor, Drs. Berry and Gross reminds us of the important role community play in surviving and confronting such exploitation. It is in the collective that we liberate ourselves from the individualistic, “clout-chasing,” performative aspects of academia. This collectivity prompts us to continue organizing conferences, workshopping our research, and building professional and mentorship relationships. I am grateful for the opportunity to have had a conversation with Drs. Berry and Gross about their new book, and I am sure this text will ignite a new generation of scholars to continue to do the work.
Tiana Wilson is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of History with a portfolio in Women and Gender Studies, here at UT-Austin. Her broader research interests include: Black Women’s Internationalism, Black Women’s Intellectual History, Women of Color Organizing, and Third World Feminism. More specifically, her dissertation explores women of color feminist movements in the U.S. from the 1960s to the present. At UT, she is the Graduate Research Assistant for the Institute for Historical Studies, coordinator of the New Work in Progress Series, and a research fellow for the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. Check out Tiana Wilson's interview with Profs. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross for the Cite Black Women Podcast.
This past July I was in Salvador to do research on black women’s activism during the month of Julho das Pretas(July of Black Women), which Odara – Institute of the Black Woman started seven years ago. Julho das Pretas was initially launched as a way to bring attention to July 25 – the Dia Internacional da Mulher Negra da America Latina e o Caribe (International Day of the Black Latin American and Caribbean Woman). July 25th has been celebrated since 1992, when a group of women organized the first Encontro de Mulheres Negras Latinas e Caribenhas in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and created the Rede de Mulheres Afro-Latino-americanas e Afro-Caribenhas.Thus,Julho das Pretaswas seen as a way to celebrate black women and raise awareness about the issues facing black women for the entire month of July. Julho das Pretas has now spread all over Brazil. On July 25, 2019, black women gathered in major cities all over Brazil for the Marcha das Mulheres Negras. I was able to attend the Marcha das Mulheres Negrasin Salvador, Bahia, which had the theme: Mulheres Negras por um Nordeste Livre Do Racismo, da Violencia, e pelo Bem Viver(Black Women for Northeast Free of Racism, Violence and for Good Living). On the Facebook page for the march, the organizers wrote, “the march will bring together plural black women, to shout out against racism, violence, femicide, LGBTphobia, maternal mortality, obstetric violence, the genocide of black youth, religious and environmental racism, against welfare reform, cuts in education and all forms of fascist and white supremacist oppression and ignorance in force in national politics.”
We gathered in Piedade plaza starting at 1pm.Staff members from Odara kicked off the march by welcoming everyone to the march, and inviting people to share their thoughts with the crowd on the open mic. Milca Martins, Secretary of Sindoméstica, the union of domestic workers, spoke out about the urgency of black women saying NO to all the various forms of violence that they suffer. Hailing from the peripheral neighborhood of Mata Escura, she encouraged everyone present to form women’s groups in their communities, and to work with women from periphery. She even brought women from Mata Escura with her to the march, for whom it was their first time participating in the march. Martins pointed out that the first to be hit by the recent controversial welfare and retirement reforms of are black women. She got emotional when speaking about the unjust situation in which black women domestic workers often find themselves in – “the system is killing our kids and they ask, ‘where’s you mom?’ And we are working taking care of white children and don’t have anywhere to leave our children!”
After Milca Martins’ speech, Odara staff members gave rousing speeches with lots of neighborhood shout outs. There were multitudes of black women of all ages gathered in the plaza. A capoeira group called Sonho do Zumbi performed, with mostly women capoeiristas jogando (playing). People went up and read poetry. The sisters of the Irmandade de Boa Morteopened the march as a symbolic act of reverence to what Afro-Brazilians call “ancestralidade.” The literal translation of the word is ancestry, but it is much more than family or genetics – it has to do with African cultural heritage, practices, aesthetics, and religiosity that has fortified Afro-Brazilians and given them the strength and fortitude to resist enslavement, colonization, and continued racism and oppression in Brazil. Ironically, while the Odara staff were asking for people to clear a path to allow the elder black women from Boa Morteto open the march, the media swarmed in front of the irmãs, with journalists sticking microphones in their faces and trying to get interviews with their video cameras. It was a tense and awkward moment in which the media clearly was acting in their own interest, but ironically, holding up the progress of the march!
When the march did get under way, it was marvelous. The mic was open the entire time as we walked down to Cruz Caída in Pelourinho. Two black trans women spoke out about how transwomen and travestisare also a part of the black women’s movement, and how they are especially vulnerable because they are often locked out of the job industry due to their gender identity. At some point, it began raining – first a sprinkle, and then it poured. The crowd dispersed a bit around Praça da Sé, but the rain did not dissipate the energy of the march. Once the rain passed, the crowd regathered and continued onward. That felt symbolic to me, somehow. Much like the struggles that black women face, we protect ourselves from the rain, but then regroup, find strength and solidarity amongst our sisters, and continue on our way.
In this Instagram post advertising the March, it says “For a Bahia free of Femicide” and shows women holding signs about the high rates of violence against women. The signs claim that there are 5 beatings of women every 2 minutes and 1 woman murdered every hour two hours. Notably, a disproportionate amount of victims of this type of violence in Brazil are black women.
On November 27, the news of yet another femicide of a young black woman with a promising future rocked the black feminist activist community of Salvador. Elitânia Souza da Hora was a 25 year old student in Cachoeira, Bahia, and a quilombola leader who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The tragic irony is that she was preparing to defend her undergraduate thesis on the topic of femicide, and then she became a victim of it. In the spirit of citing black women in transnational contexts, I want to share my translation of the Nota de Repúdio from the Forum Marielles de Mulheres Negras de Salvador.
FROM MARIELLE FRANCO TO ELITÂNIA SOUZA DA HORA: WHO CARES ABOUT THE LIVES OF BLACK WOMEN?
December 1, 2019
English Translation By Erica Lorraine Williams
On the afternoon of November 22 of this year, a Babalorixá from the city of Santo Antonio de Jesus, in the Recôncavo of Bahia, sent me a Whatsapp message distressed. He said he was going to do an activity in his religious house on December 1, and invited me to a roundtable discussion on the topic of “Femicide,” which he had chosen at the behest of a deity. The gods were worried about the violent occurrences that had been affected women of the city.
On November 27, we were horrified by the news that Elitânia Souza da Hora was cruelly murdered when she left her classes at the Federal University of the Recôncavo of Bahia (UFRB), in the city of Cachoeira, Bahia. A brilliant young black woman, she was a quilombola leader who worked for an NGO of the valorization of the culture of the Recôncavo Baiano. She had her whole future ahead of her. She was going to graduate with a degree in Social Services and she was part of CASSMAF, the Academic Center of Social Services Marielle Franco.
Like many women in Brasil, Elitânia da Hora found herself trapped in an abusive relationship with a man who wouldn’t leave her in peace. A victim of domestic violence, she had already reported the case to the police station, and she even had a protective order against the ex. She was a woman with a big smile, always nice and kind, with strong opinions and dreams of a successful professional life.
On the other hand, the brutal assassination of Marielle Franco last year also shocked us and, as the case has unfolded, the way the Brazilian system of justice has handled this heinous crime continues to frighten us.
The high rates of femicide in Brasil are also scary particularly when we analyze them from a racial dimension. According to data from the Ministry of Health compiled by the Atlas of Violence, launched by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Ipea) and by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security (FBSP), for example, 4,936 murders of women were registered in 2017. That is an average of 13 homicides per day, the largest number in a decade! According to information from the Map of Violence, in Brazil between 2003 and 2013 the number of femicides of black women jumped from 1,864, in 2003 to 2,875 in 2013. In contrast, there was a decrease of 9.8% in crimes involving white women, which fell from 1,747 to 1,576 between the years.
The death of Marielle Franco added to this statistic. And it was from the idea of honoring the council woman from Rio de Janeiro, that the Fórum Marielle of Salvador-Bahia was created, with the objective of encouraging the candidacies of black women in spaces of power, because we recognize that such women find themselves under-represented in these spaces, even as they make up the majority of the Bahian population.
Since its creation on March 14, 2019, we have gathered to discuss various topics of interest of black women and we have perceived the strength and potency of the diverse organizations of black women that make up the Forum.
However, femicide remains untouchable for us black women, as a constant threat to the lives of these women and to their well-being. The death of Marielle Franco also made this complaint, therefore our goals as a Forum that brings together dozens of organizations of black Bahian women is also to fight against this necropolitics adopted by the Brazilian state, that has a tragic impact on the well-being of black women, we want to denounce and unite in diverse fronts of confronting this extermination.
Many organizations of women have long been engaged in this fight against the genocide of black people and against femicide. In Bahia, we have for example the Campaign Parem de Nos Matar(Stop Killing Us), organized by the Bahian Network of Black Women o, the Community Forum to Combat Violence which develops several actions and a vigil every month in Lapa station in Salvador, collectives like Mahin – Organization of Black Women, that carries out actions with women in situations of violence in peripheral neighborhoods, and Odara – Institute of the Black Women, that also has a campaign on this theme, among other organizations and collectives across the state of Bahia.
The state government, in its turn, also possesses secretaries and other organs of the justice system that deal with this issue, but they seem dead to us, at least with regard to the deaths of black women, since in this group femicide has increased, demonstrating that the policies appear to be effective for white women, but not for black and brown women.
The state can’t even guarantee what the law advocates, for in the case of the Rio de Janeiro Council Woman Marielle Franco and of Elitânia Souza da Hora, the young Social Services student at UFRB, the state failed and wasn’t able to offer the protection that they needed, not even through complaints nor in the guarantee of the protective order, nothing prevented the monstrous murderer from taking the life of Elitânia, a young black quilombola woman, active in the student movement and in defense of affirmative action policies.
We of the Fórum Marielle denounce this and we put ourselves on the alert in the face of so much neglect, and we demand answers of the appropriate instances, we will speak up, denounce, and demand our rights, so that all black women may live their lives without being interrupted!
FORUM MARIELLES DE MULHERES NEGRAS DE SALVADOR
A marcha reunirá mulheres negras plurais, para gritar contra o racismo, a violência, o feminicídio, a LGBTfobia, a mortalidade materna, a violência obstétrica, o extermínio da juventude negra, o racismo religioso e ambiental, contra a reforma da previdência, os cortes na educação e todas as formas de opressão e ignorância fascista brancomachocêntrica em vigor na política nacional.
Dr. Erica L. Williams is Associate Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Spelman College. She is also a member of the Cite Black Women Collective. Her full bio is available on our Collective members' page on this site.
Somewhere, sometime, in every work of fiction written by Paule Marshall, a black woman laughs. But the laughter is not always the same; there are multitudes of knowledge, skill, and feeling in her different types of laughter. There is laughter that derides others, of self-loathing, of survival, and of freedom.
Each novella in Marshall’s book Soul Clap Hands and Sing has a male protagonist. And yet each piece still manages to be about black women and how their appearance alters the way men feel about themselves. In “Brooklyn,” a white male professor consistently refers to the only black woman in his literature class as “girl” in his fantasies. At first, she is intimidated by him, and frightened when he solicits her, but later she approaches him to affirm her own sense of self – and “her sudden laugh [was] an infinitely cruel sound in the warm night.” This black woman’s laughter is mean and doesn’t fully endear us to her, but Marshall makes it clear that it took many years and a great deal of loneliness and pain for her to earn that laugh.
Some of the laughter in The Chosen Place, the Timeless People – a novel which showcases Marshall’s talent for writing about visceral emotion – is also painful. Merle, a black Caribbean woman, is deeply haunted by her past, and she holds her ex-lover, a white Englishwoman, responsible for much of her misery. Yet Merle manages to empathize with the white wife of a man she has an affair with, until the woman tries to pay Merle to leave. The bribe is so close to how that other white woman treated her that after the offer, Merle’s “head went back and the earsplitting laugh erupted once again. And this time it was more a laugh and less the anguished scream that had sought to rid her of the dead weight. She might have been delivered.” Merle’s own laughter delivers her; she finds within herself the route from pain and guilt towards freedom and self-acceptance.
In Marshall’s fiction, black women’s laughter is hardly ever at something funny. Instead, it’s a response to the absurdity of life, and especially of racism and poverty. It’s what in some places we call laugh for not to cry.
The novella Reena describes this kind of laughter. As the title character and an old friend mourn being aging black women who are both alone and lonely, “again our laughter – that loud, searing burst which we used to cauterize our hurt mounted into the unaccepting silence of the room.”
Not all of the laughter in Marshall’s work is painful. Despite her mother’s warnings, Selina, protagonist of Marshall’s first and probably most-taught novel, Brown Girl, Brownstones, seeks out Suggie – a single, “loose” woman – for information and advice about sex. Suggie happily complies, and at the end of the chapter (in what some describe as a homoerotic scene), "Together, laughing, their arms circling each other’s waists, they crossed the room and opened the door. A wide bar of light from the hall made a path for them, and the rich colors of their laughter painted the darkness.”
In an essay published in Women’s Studies Quarterly that appears later in different form as “From the Poets in the Kitchen,” Marshall praises the working-class black, Caribbean women who talked around the kitchen table when she was a child. Crediting these women as her first literary inspiration, Marshall focuses on their intelligence and their creativity with language – not on the many isms that threatened them at every turn. According to Marshall, these black women’s “laughter which often swept the kitchen was, at its deepest level, an affirmation of their own worth; it said they could not be. defeated by demeaning jobs...”
Black women’s laughter, on the page and in life is often loud and unabashed: what some might call vulgar or uncouth; what some of us call home. Take a moment and listen…if you’re a black woman, if you know black women intimately, then you can hear the shades of these different laughters percolating now. But if you don’t know black women, or if you want a reminder, look to the pages of Paule Marshall for black women’s laughter.
8/22/2019 0 Comments
The beginning of the new academic year is a crucial time. It’s the time to write new syllabi and revise old ones, make semester plans and embrace new possibilities. Here are some easy and steps you can take to #CiteBlackWomen.
1) Read our work.
Read Black women’s scholarship. Don’t know of any? Ask and do some research. Once you’ve found Black women’s work, deepen your understanding of it and seriously engage the ideas. Black women literally publish in every areas imaginable. All you have to do is find us.
2) Integrate our work in a serious way.
Don’t just slap us onto your bibliography—critically engage us. For example, if you are teaching a class on urban landscapes, don’t just add a Black women’s book on cities to your class. Ask students to think about how Black feminist geographies change our perspectives of space. We aren’t just sources of information: we are also theorizers and innovators.
3) Acknowledge our work.
Once you’ve incorporated us into the structure of your class/bibliography, acknowledge our work. How have we uniquely changed/impacted the field? Say our names out loud. Don’t just paraphrase what we’ve taught you and pass it off as your own intervention. Like that idea, let us know who inspired it.
4) Let us speak.
Give us the space and time to speak. Assign a Black women’s work? Invite her to speak on your campus. Invite her to speak in your class (*and PAY her!). Support her by inviting her by attending her conference papers and/or talks. Make space in your daily practices to ensure that Black women’s ideas are heard. Cite us in your lectures, your talks, meetings, even casual conversations. It makes a difference.
5) Let us breathe.
Finally, let us breathe. We do a whole lot. Most of us work 3-4 shifts not just 2 (a la the 2nd shift). Don’t overwork us. Give us break. Give us the space to be quiet, write, reflect, laugh, cry, be. And don’t take it personally when we need time away.
If you do these five things you are on a path to change. Just keep them in mind and you can make real progress this semester and beyond. Good luck.
P.S. - Thoughts for Black Women
And p.s. thoughts for Black women particularly: most of us were deliberately taught NOT to value Black women’s work in graduate school. We were literally instructed to cite white men and we were/are often punished for not doing so in school and beyond. It is not easy unlearning this. It is often triggering as we have been shamed and disciplined into thinking that our own knowledge production is unworthy of citation. Be gentle with yourselves as you unlearn erasing Black women. Seek allies and sister-friends that can support you in your journey to value yourself and your fellow Black women. Take the courageous step to deconstruct your own habits and recognize this is a PROCESS not zero sum game. You can do it. And support your sisters as they go through this process as well. The last thing we need is more hate and negativity. Be kind and patient with yourself and others.
4/8/2019 0 Comments
Elizabeth Eckford. The photograph of her walking through a mob of hateful white people trying to keep her out of their school comes to mind. My struggle in the academy does not compare to that of Elizabeth Eckford, but this image evokes the common narrative of black students enduring hostility to enter a white academic space. That “colored woman living in a white world”  reflects back to me my experience as a black woman in the white-dominated, hostile, engineering academic space where my legitimacy as a scientist is continually challenged.
My first encounter with the politics of research involved the politics of the “valid” research question. Surviving in my PhD program became dependent upon me defining research questions that satisfied my desire to do environmental equity- and justice-focused research while being deemed “scholarly-enough” (read: novel-, rigorous-, and technical-enough) for environmental engineering by my professors. Throughout this process, I have carried the words of Dr. Carolyn Finney. In a speech given during my second year, she said, “What is your vision…it’s the commitment to that. Not commitment to the degree, not commitment to the dissertation, not commitment to someone else’s idea of who you need to be and what your work is supposed to look like. You get clear about what you are committed to.” Her praxis of “doing the work on your own terms” inspired me to remain committed to making space for interdisciplinary, environmental justice work in engineering. Three years later, it is Dr. Charisma Acey who is helping me develop my final dissertation chapter and serves as a committee member. The mentorship of these two black women faculty, both in outside departments, helped me navigate and broaden colonial notions of “valid, technical” science and persist in academia.
The technical validity of my work is recurrently interrogated until a chapter is accepted to a conference or peer-reviewed journal. Before I became aware of citational politics, I was made to understand that publication is equated with merit. It was when I came across a retweet of a Cite Black Women post about a year ago that I began to think of citation as a practice. In the sciences, we are encouraged to look at an author’s h-index, a metric based on number of papers and citations. The h-index is indicative of science’s false claim of apolitical knowledge production. Using this value to select article citations reproduces the exclusion of black scientific scholarship due to limited access to and visibility in science fields. Seeing the words “Cite Black Women” reified the need to seek, read, and cite black women in environmental engineering and related fields. Since publication and citation are the institutional metrics of legitimate scientific research, the practice of citing black women is critical for our collective survival in white-dominated, hostile, engineering academic spaces.
 Terrell, Mary Church (1940). A Colored Woman in a White World. GK Hall.
Regan F. Patterson is a PhD Candidate in Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation research focuses on the environmental justice and equity outcomes of diesel truck emission control regulations and truck routing policies in freight-impacted communities. In addition to research, she enjoys teaching and tutoring K-12 students, always finding ways to incorporate environmental themes and student experiences. Regan holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UCLA and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley.
4/8/2019 0 Comments
Black women bookend all of my educational endeavors. Though I had no black professors as an undergraduate student, sociologists Margaret L. Anderson and Patricia Hill Collins edited the book that introduced me to feminist studies during my first semester. Though I had no training in psychology, social psychologist Dr. Onnie Rogers trained me how use my black feminist inspired sociological imagination to assist her in researching adolescent racial and gender identity development. And though I questioned how much of my formal undergraduate studies was miseducating, bell hooks could (new) school me via Youtube about the spiritual foundations and impetus of black liberation.
When I arrived at UC Berkeley, black women had already occupied places of influence and been ensuring that I could live and move and breathe more freely. Dean Prudence Carter recognized our exceptionalism, and outgoing Vice President of Equity and Inclusion Na'ilah Nasir applauded how our greatness was about what we could do for others. Tiffani Johnson encouraged us to play the game of doctoral studies on the turf of our interests rather than measuring ourselves according to our professor's expertise. Derrika Hunt reminded us to not lose why we came to Berkeley when we got to and move through Berkeley. These were my first 24 hours of visiting campus. These were only the initial greetings. Many of these and many more black women have constructed and led the various formal and informal sites that hold, protect, refresh, and prepare me to live and love my blackness in an antiblack society. There is no manner for us to adequately comprehend what suffering is being mitigated or who we are becoming apart from centering the legacies of black women.
I was not impressed that there were impactful black women at Berkeley. I was reminded and humbled by how devoted and generous black women have been to ensure that incomers across the board would be affirmed, encouraged, oriented, and connected to a sense of place and purpose bigger than any institution. But I have also reflected on how rare it is for any institution to honor the lives and labor of black women. Most of us actually benefit from and do not mind black women doing too much of the much needed work. And too few of us other than black women care whether black women get credit or survive the work of ensuring our collective survival.
I believe that black men like myself can and should make space for black women to speak (CBW Praxis #4). I recognize that black women have been more than capable, resourceful, and efficacious at making room for themselves, but I want people to set up black women as generously as we as a society have been set up by black women. I want black women to have moments when they can just show up and simply benefit from others' care and commitment to them just as the rest of the world does with black women. I firmly believe that if we are to give black women the space and time to breathe (CBW Praxis #5), other folk like myself need to step up and share the workload of sustaining our freedom dreams, especially those of black women. I hope that when my book ends, so too will the exploitation of black women's labor. May we build other paths toward freedom than the bridge called her back.
Caleb Dawson studies how antiblackness is reproduced in "progressive" educational institutions and how black folk sustain themselves in those sites. In his current work, he seeks to make sense of black struggles in historically white colleges and universities (HWCUs). He is using interview methods to learn about the desires that black students and staff bring to HWCUs, their perception of institutional commitments to black people, and the gendered configuration of sources and practices of support on which black folk rely. He is committed to advancing black life beyond the possibilities of educational institutions as we know them. Caleb is a PhD student in the Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender cluster at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education.
4/2/2019 1 Comment
In the field of archaeology less than 1 percent of professionals are people of African descent (Odewale et.al. 2018). I felt this immensely during my first conference experience at the Society for Historical Archaeology in January of 2010. As a Black queer woman in the field, I did not see myself reflected in the faces of my predominately White male colleagues. While the number of Black archaeologists has not risen over one percent, the interest in historical research pertaining to African Diaspora sites has been on the rise since Charles Fairbanks first broke ground at Kingsley Plantation in the late 1960s (Flewellen 2017). However, this interest has not come with a renewed desire by archaeologists in the intellectual production of African Diaspora folks, particularly how we theorize our past, present, and future.
In walks, Maria Franklin who in 2001 asked for an Black Feminist Inspired archaeology, a decade after Crenshaw’s call for intersectional scholarship (Franklin 2001). After being introduced to her work in early 2009, I later devouring Whitney Battle-Baptist work Black Feminist Archaeology in 2011 (Battle-Baptist 2011). I come from this legacy of Black women archeologists, who have fought to theoretically advance the field of archaeology. Within this rich legacy I’ve found that my epistemological scope centers material culture while demanding that it be placed in conversation with the words and experiences of Black women from the past (See Wheatley 1773; Truth 1850; Jacobs 1861; Copper 1892, 1925; Wells 1895, 1892a, 1892b; Terrell 1940; Guy-Sheftall 1995) and those who theorize our lives in the present (Crenshaw 1991, 1989; Hill-Collins, 1990, 1991, 2002, 2004; Gross 2006; McKittrick 2000, 2006; Hine 1989, 1994, 1998; Terborg-Penn 1998; Giddings 1984, 2008; Bettye Collier-Thomas 1998; and Deborah Gray White 1999). My epistemology stretches to include Black women narrative forms both fiction and non-fiction, into reimaginings of the archival record, oral history, and historical photographs; all of which provide a variety of ways to unearth and interpret the past lived experiences of African Diasporic peoples.
The largest challenge I’ve faced in my citation practice is validating my need for sources, particularly the use of Black women both within and outside of the ivory tower. I’m constantly having to answer at conferences, in reviewers’ comments, at lectures, how my work is in fact archaeological. A prime example of this was while I was at a job talk I was asked by a faculty member “if I dug.” Beyond the fact that my talk outlined how I co-direct an award winning archaeology field school in the Caribbean, the question is literally akin to asking a historian if they ever have been in the archives. Another example of this, are the very real concerns I have regarding whether my first book project is “archaeological enough” for archaeology audiences and how that might affect my tenure. All of these concerns are real and reflect the ways our citation practices can have real impacts on our jobs security. Yet it is work that needs to be done as a practice is validating not only my expertise but the expertise of my intellectual foremothers.
2011 Black Feminist Archaeology. Left Coast Press
1991 Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford law review, 1241-1299.
1989 Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. U. Chi. Legal F., 139.
1998 Bettye. Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons 1850-1979.
Cooper, A. J.
1892 The higher education of women. MH Washington (Ed.), A voice from the south. Chicago
1998 Equality of Races and the Democratic Movement." 1925. Lemert and Bhan, 291-98.
Flewellen, A. O.
2017 Locating Marginalized Historical Narratives at Kingsley Plantation. Historical Archaeology, 51(1), 71-87.
2001 A Black feminist-inspired archaeology?. Journal of Social Archaeology, 1(1), 108-125
1984 When and where I enter: The impact of black women on race and sex in America. New York: William Morrow and Company.
2008 Ida: A sword among lions: Ida B. Wells and the campaign against lynching. Harper Collins.
Gross, K. N.
2006 Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880–1910. duke university press.
1995 Words of fire: An anthology of African-American feminist thought. The New Press.
1990 Toward an Afrocentric feminist epistemology. Turning Points in Qualitative Research, 47.
1991 The politics of Black feminist thought. Cleveland State University, Graduation and Assembly Committee.
2002 Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. Routledge.
2004 Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender, and the new racism. Routledge.
Hine, D. C..
1989 Black women in white: Racial conflict and cooperation in the nursing profession, 1890-1950.
1994 Hine sight: Black women and the re-construction of American history. Indiana University Press.
1998 A shining thread of hope: The history of Black women in America. Broadway.
1861 Linda Brent. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself.
2006 Demonic grounds: Black women and the cartographies of struggle. U of Minnesota Press.
2000 'Who do you talk to, when a body's in trouble?: M. Nourbese Philip's (un) silencing of black bodies in the diaspora. Social & Cultural Geography, 1(2), 223-236.
Odewale, Alicia, Justin Dunnavant, Ayana Flewellen, and Alexandra Jones.
2018 "Archaeology for the Next Generation." Anthropology News 59, no. 1: e210-e215.
1998 African American women in the struggle for the vote, 1850-1920. Indiana University Press.
Terrell, M. C.
1940 The history of the club women's movement. Aframerican Woman’s Journal, 1, 2-3.
Wells, I. B.,
1892a On lynchings. Courier Corporation.
1892b Southern horrors: Lynch law in all its phases. The Floating Press.
1895 Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States. Chicago: 1892-1893-1894.
1773 On being brought from Africa to America. The Open Anthology of Earlier American Literature, 435.
White, D. G.
1999 Too heavy a load: Black women in defense of themselves, 1894-1994. WW Norton & Company.
Dr. Ayana Omilade Flewellen is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California Berkeley and a 2019 Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies Fellow working with the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery. Her research and teaching interests are shaped by and speak to Black Feminist Theory, historical archaeology, public and community-engaged archaeology, processes of identity formations, and representations of slavery.The bulk of her research interests span geographically across the archaeology of the African Diaspora. She has conducted archaeological excavations and oral historical research related to slavery and freedom in the U.S. South as well as the Caribbean. Her current book project, tentatively titled A Black Feminist Archaeology of Adornment, builds off her dissertation research that examined sartorial practices of self-making among African American tenant, sharecropping and landowning farmers in post-emancipated Texas.
Dr. Flewellen is also the co-founder of Society of Black Archaeologists, a non-profit organization launched in 2011 to create a strong network of archaeologists that advocate for proper treatment of African and African diaspora material culture, promote more people of African descent to enter the field of archaeology, ensure community collaborative research, and highlight the past and present achievements and contributions people of African descent have made to the field of archaeology.Flewellen is currently the Co-PI of the Estate Little Princess Archaeology Project, an award-winning collaborative community engaged archaeological project on St. Croix, USVI. The Estate Little Princess Archaeology Project is in collaboration with The Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) - a global change program comprised of an international network of institutions and individual associates that investigate the global history and enduring legacies of the African Slave Trade, administered by George Washington University and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture – as well as the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), and Diving with a Purpose (DWP), an underwater archaeology advocacy group. The Estate Little Princess Archaeology Project is also part of a larger University of California Historically Black College and University Grant – providing archaeological field school training to students attending HBCUs around the country.