Friday, May 23, 2008

Hood Credibility and Womanist Work(s): Thoughts on Colonization, Academe, and Keeping it Real

i straddle many worlds, literally. i resist and construct my own freedom everyday. i make choices, choices are made for me; i run between worlds. not because its particulary fun, but probably because making a choice to reside in only one sphere of thought, only one space of understanding acutally defies all I believe in a growning creative human being black woman artist poet daughter dancer painter thinker community member lover of tapas and sangria and victoria falls and houston-humidity and large front porches.

with this said i struggle to reconcile my diverse and promiscuous relationships with academic institutions, artistic institutions, community institutions and institutions in specific as i explore creative autonomy and radical expressive in and with community. i crave intimacy, group intimacy and soul stirring energy in everything i do from writing a 25-page research paper to choosing what color sheets to place on my bed. holla if you hear me!

i am concerned sistas and brothas about the politics of work, energy, and spirit as it pretains to my my involvement with institutions. keeping it real, i am concerned about all of us. i have had the displeasure of seeing black women work themselves sick and worse in and through institutions. i have seen our ideas, dreams and desires used for profit and to advance the goals of the institution and then squelched when they were no longer deemed necessary. i have seen us conjure fires and put them out on the behalf of these institutions. i have seen our spirit, scholarship, inventiveness, creativeness and so on and so forth all up and through multiple institutions and spaces but AT What Cost?

Keeping it real, hood credibility does not only apply to rappers from the suburbs wanting to be down with ghetto experience(what ever that is) but it is just as prevalent in other aspects of society. Is what we add to these spaces so uniquely ours, so uniquely necessary that no one else can bring it like us? Yes! Is our stuff, as elder-in-the-game Ntozake Shange reminds us, only ours and no one else can really do anything with it? Yes! What is the it I am referring to? Spirit, working spirit, creating spirit, making space for spirit~~~all day everyday.

here is the do black women performing women's studies engage in and with different institutions that need our work but don't necessarily honor our processes? how do we take care of home/self/body/desire and engage where we are needed regardless of the larger politics? alexis and mama nia holla if you hear me? how do we check the colonization practices of institutions while engaging in our work(s)? should we have any progressive and wholistic requests for the instituions and groups we associate with? i say YES! but what do yall think.

final thoughts. our mamas, grand mamas, and great grand mamas had/have visions that we could make this world different. give thanks to all the sistas we know and dont know who have been performing women's studies since the beginning of time. we know alot about how some of us prevailied and about how some of us struggled against defeat until death. how can we articulate rules for engagement for the here and now?

i am all ears/eyes/heart~~~~

ebony golden


MB said...


So on point!!! I really like the idea of creating a "Rules of Engagement" List for Black Women in the Academy! I think some rules might be

1. create a support system of women of color sisters in your home location you can vent to on at least a monthly basis.

2. post up an "eyes on the prize" image or vision to remind yourself what your end goal is.

3. Remember that the acdademy is just another thing that people made up that we can unmake or make over.

What a great idea Ebony!!!

lex said...

I'm hollering cause I hear you! I second the rules that Moya posted...
in keeping with rule number 1...I'm anxiously awaiting your return to our "home location" miss ebony!

Really though the whole analysis of this post and Moya's reminder of rule number 3 is so crucial.

I get very sad and afraid when I talk to brilliant black women who are resigned to the fact that tenure is the closet thing we can have to salvation or that success on the terms of the academic institution is the best we can hope for.

Our mobile homes are worlds we build. Maybe we can navigate the way we see our promiscious relationships to institutions in the way we do other relationship that involve our bodies, spirits and minds. With intention. What is my intention for/with a particular space? How do I make that clear for myself? How do I communicate that to the institution? What spaces allow or disallow my honesty? When do I have to hustle the institution out of the resourced I need and redistribute those resources to my community?

A big question for me is...does the "hustler" approach that I take to some institutions which I am committed to unmaking (like the university) spill into...corrupt harm the long-term love approach that I have to spaces like this..spaces that we are making together? Where does my clarity come from, my love, my integrity live as I shuttle back and forth between spaces of love-making, and spaces of hustle?

lex said...

oh. so my rule to add is

4. Break the game, not the players.

5. keep on compiling a growing council of ancestors, elders, sisters, mentors and mentees to remind you what is REALLY going on!

6. grow, cook, make and eat good food often.