"When They Reminisce Over You, My God!": Reminiscing Racial Violence, In and Out of School

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Thank you to Crystal Belle and the organizers of the Trayvon Martin Effect Conference at Teachers College for this weekend's events!

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"When They Reminisce Over You, My God!": Reminiscing Racial Violence, In and Out of School

  1. 1. “When They Reminisce Over You, My God!”: Reminiscing Racial Violence, In and Out of School Carmen Kynard, Ph.D. John Jay College of Criminal Justice Associate Professor of English
  2. 2. “They Reminisce Over You” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKJ9fRa2MTc (Pete Rock and CL Smooth on Arsenio Hall) End of first verse and C.L. Smooth’s last two bars: Déjà vu, Tell You What I’m Gonna Do When They Reminisce Over You, My God! The weight and impact of such re-remembering is exactly what schools quite actively and deliberately keep us from doing.
  3. 3. Zeus Leonardo’s work asks us to understand: •Problems of research and action theorized solely from the location of white privilege •“White privilege” is a passive description of white racial domination •Racial domination never happens without active agents • Whiteness is not a state of being dominant •Whiteness is a calculated and calculating series of racist processes.
  4. 4. “Backwater Blues” by Bessie Smith I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
I woke up this mornin', can't even get out of my door
There's been enough trouble to make a poor girl wonder where she want to go… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRTHHk eQ8sE In 1927, the Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles
  5. 5. Structural and institutional racism are NOT subtle or invisible. Oppression could never work if it were invisible or unfelt.
  6. 6. “I must feel the fire of my soul so my intellectual blues can set others on fire.” ~Cornel West, Brother West
  7. 7. “Being oppressed means the absence of choices.” ~bell hooks
  8. 8. “The blues women did not passively reflect the vast social changes of their time; they provided new ways of thinking about these changes, alternative conceptions of the physical and social world for their audience of migrating and urban women and men, and social models for women who aspired to escape from and now improve their conditions of existence.” ~Hazel Carby
  9. 9. Excerpt from my syllabus: Writing about texts is perhaps the singlemost, common trademark for the kind of writing and thinking that is expected of you in the academy. However, this does NOT mean: that you write about things you don’t care about, that you write as if you sound like an encyclopedia/ wikipedia, that you omit your own voice and perspective, that you cannot be creative and energetic….
  10. 10. … that you must sound like the type of person who might wear wool/plaid jackets with suede patches on the elbows in order to be taken seriously, that you cannot be everything that makes up your multiple selves, that you cannot be Hip Hop, Soul, Bachata, Bomba, Metal, or Rock-N-Roll, that you cannot have some fun with it. You do not give up who you are to be an academic writer; on the contrary, you take who are even MORE seriously.
  11. 11. From the Feminist Wire… Monica Casper makes a compelling case: that we need to talk about “specifically the historical, systemic racism of white women.” And Heather Laine Talley makes it clear that expressions like “well, not all white women/white feminists are like that” is a form of white denial and bad allying.
  12. 12. From Fannie Lou Hamer… “I’m just up here to rap and tell you what it is and to tell it like it is.” “Until I Am Free, You Are Not Free Either” (1971 speech ay UW-Madison) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZYin mLyOxI
  13. 13. “When They Reminisce Over You, My God!”: Reminiscing Racial Violence, In & Out of School Carmen Kynard, Ph.D. ckynard@jjay.cuny.edu

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