Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet
Qualitative Inquiries on Race, Gender, Sexualities, and Culture
Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet promotes the importance of intergenerational Black dialogue as a collaborative spirit-making across race, genders, sexualities, and cultures to bridge time and space.
The authors enter this dialogue in a crisis moment: a crisis moment at the confluence of a pandemic, the national political transition of leadership in the United States, the necessary rise of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color activism—in the face of the continued murders of unarmed Black and queer people by police. And as each author mourns the loss of loved ones who have left us through illness, the contiguity of time, or murder, we all hold tight to each other and to memory as an act of keeping them alive in our hearts and actions, remembrance as an act of resistance so that the circle will be unbroken. But they also come together in the spirit of hope, the hope that bleeds the borders between generations of Black teacher-artist-scholars, the hope that we find in each other’s joy and laughter, and the hope that comes when we hear both stories of struggle and strife and stories of celebration and smile that lead to possibilities and potentialities of our collective being and becoming—as a people.
So, the authors offer stories of witness, resistance, and gettin’ ovah, stories that serve as a road map from Black history and heritage to a Black futurity that is mythic and imagined but that can also be actualized and embodied, now. This book will be of interest to scholars, students, and activists in a wide range of disciplines across the social sciences and performance studies.
Table of Contents
Performative Intergenerational Dialogues: An Introduction, Section I: Tribute and Libation to A Black Quartet, 1. Generational Drama/Intergenerational Trauma, 2. When You Hear It From Her, 3. "I Wish Cotton was a Monkey", 4. "And the Protest Goes On...", Section II: Motha/ Sista and Fatha/Brotha Wit: Listening to the Lessons, 5. Motha Wit, 6. Fatha Wit (or Brotha Wit), 7. I Affirm, 8. "Reading (to/for) Daddee"; Section III. Letters to Those Who Mattered, 9. To Daddee (Love, Keith), 10. Dear Grandpa (Love, Cookie), 11. What Becomes (Possible) When a Black Woman Sees You: A Gratitude Meditation for Mama Crystal, 12. A Praisesong to Softness: Reflecting on Soft Black Masculinities and Survival, 13. A Tribute to Franklin: A Comic Appreciation, Section IV: Monuments of Memory and Remorse, 14. Monuments to Living (or Finding and Reviving the Dead in a Graveyard), 15. Rice: A Visit to a 12-Year-Old Black Boy’s Memorial, 16. The First Time..., 17. Going There, 18. High Bar Love, 19. Standing at the Intersection of 38th Street E and Chicago Avenue S, Section V: B(l)ack Talk, 20. April 20, 2021: On Luther and Chauvin, 21. Trilogy of Terror on the Black Hand Side, 22. Feel/Think the Kink: A Dialogue with Jubi Arriola-Headley’s Original Kink, 23. Spell Casting as Talking Back, 24. Admirable or Ridiculous: Talkin Black, Back, & Between Kin Folk, 25. Feeling Real: Reprise (Talking B[l]ack to a Younger Brother), Section VI: Voting Rights and Writing Volition, 26. Why Did Black People Vote for Trump?, 27. Another Prayer Meeting, 28. We are the People (July 4, 2021), 29. What’s the Matter? (A Play), 30. The Will to Love: Dialogues on Loving Blackness in an Anti-Black World, 31. A Letter to Process, Positionality, and Possibility, Performative Intergenerational Dialogues: A Conclusion
Bryant Keith Alexander is a professor and dean in the College of Communication and Fine Arts and an interim dean in the School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University, USA. He is coauthor of Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstrict Racism and Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black Lives.Mary E. Weems is a poet, playwright, scholar, and author of 14 books, including Blackeyed: Plays and Monologues and five chapbooks. Weems was awarded a 2015 Cleveland Arts Prize for her full-length drama MEAT and has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is coauthor of Still Hanging: Using Performance Texts to Deconstrict Racism and Collaborative Spirit-Writing and Performance in Everyday Black Lives. Weems may be reached at www.maryeweems.org.
Dominque C. Hill, PhD, is a creative and vulnerability guide whose scholarship interrogates Black embodiment with foci in Black girlhood, education, and performance. An artist-scholar, Hill is an assistant professor of Women’s Studies at Colgate University and is the coauthor of Who look at me?!: Shifting the Gaze of Education Through Blackness, Queerness, and the Body.
Durell M. Callier, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University. An artist-scholar, he researches and interrogates the lived experience of Black youth and the racialized queer dynamics of power within educative spaces. He is coauthor of Who look at me?!: Shifting the Gaze of Education Through Blackness, Queerness, and the Body.
"In this quartet, the reader enters what the best and most skilled of what performative writing offers: the entry into a panoply of temporalities, embodiments, and daring alterity. Reading this book took me back to my roots in 1960s Chicago Jazz clubs where the un-apologetic, improvisational, and interanimating collaborations of sound, imagery, space, and time became a testament to the complex and abundant fabric of black existential love, suffering, and joy. This book is a model of collaboration as interlocking form and dialogic content as well political activism drenched in the beauty of speech, persuasion, and intimate relations. Reading this book was, in Toni Morrison’s words, ‘a gift to my mind’ and it was also a salve for my soul in a most needed time." -- D. Soyini Madison, Professor Emeritus, Department of Performance Studies, Northwestern University, USA.
"This masterfully written intergenerational dialogue reminds me that Sankofa, the Adinkra symbolizing the notion of "go back and get it," is alive and well! This text beautifully captures the interconnectedness of history and futurity as dual sites of liberation for Black, queer, gender expansive scholar/activists charting their territory in the sphere of world-making. To remember and return is an act of resistance that honors the ancestors who laid the very path for our existence. Radically imagining new futures in the now offers reprieve from our present and rhetorically constructs the free future within which we are already alive and well. May you find yourself peppered throughout these lines in a moment of inspiration, love, and unapologetic brilliance." - Amber Johnson, Professor of Communication, Interim Vice President of the Division for Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement, Saint Louis University, USA.
"Across generations, critical love languages, and literary genres, Alexander, Weems, Hill, and Callier invite the reader on a journey of witnessing, revelations, and reverence of Blackness. Speaking with and to liberated souls and souls under siege, this beautiful quartet operates as a siren of possibilities as they collectively wrestle with new ways of knowing through intimate expressions of self and re-membering. This riveting collection is a must-read for anyone interested in dialogic performance, freedom-making artistry, and celebrations of Blackness." -- Sharrell D. Luckett, Associate Professor of Drama & Performance Studies, Director of the Weinberger Center for Drama & Playwriting, University of Cincinnati, USA, and Director, Black Acting Methods Studio.
"Performative Intergenerational Dialogues of a Black Quartet is an empowering rollercoaster that evokes our past experiences, questions our current crises, and sketches out potential possibilities for our future. Through interactive poetry, prose, drama, rhythm, and rhyme that pop off the page, I found myself called into responding as a reader who is remembering Blackness, revisiting parallel experiences, and rethinking my role in the creation of Black futurity. This Black Quartet shares the formula for tough skin in Hill’s narration of "groove(ing)," listens to the voices of our ancestors in Alexander’s "Black Notes", expands Callier’s que(e)ry beyond sexuality, and becomes transformative in Weems display of how form and content can spread out across the page to interrupt and disrupt our current norms, while also encouraging new growth around old wounds. Each author masterfully unpacks the liminal space between everyday Black life and the performance of intellectual labor as they draw upon the power of storytelling to teach readers how to heal from cultural crises and activate our imagination in an embodied way." -- Rachel N. Hastings. Professor of Communication, MiraCosta College, USA, and the Director of the North County Higher Education Alliance.