Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life

Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life

Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life

Scandalize My Name: Black Feminist Practice and the Making of Black Social Life

Synopsis

From sapphire, mammy, and jezebel, to the angry black woman, baby mama, and nappy-headed ho, black female iconography has had a long and tortured history in public culture. The telling of this history has long occupied the work of black female theorists - much of which has been foundational insituating black women within the matrix of sociopolitical thought and practice in the United States. Scandalize My Name builds upon the rich tradition of this work while approaching the study of black female representation as an opening onto a critical contemplation of the vagaries of black sociallife. It makes a case for a radical black subject-position that structures and is structured by an intramural social order that revels in the underside of the stereotype and ultimately destabilizes the very notion of "civil society."At turns memoir, sociological inquiry, literary analysis, and cultural critique, Scandalize My Name explores topics as varied as serial murder, reality television, Christian evangelism, teenage pregnancy, and the work of Toni Morrison to advance black feminist practice as a mode through which blacksociality is both theorized and made material.

Excerpt

When we are not “public,” with all that the word connotes for black
people then how do we live and who are we?

—ELIZABETH ALEXANDER, THE BLACK INTERIOR

The notion that black culture is some kind of backwater or tributary of
an American “mainstream” is well established in much popular as well
as standard social science literature. To the prudent black American
masses, however, core black culture is the mainstream.

—John Langston Gwaltney, Drylongso

First, a story.

I was twenty-one years old, a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, when, after three years of immersion into what passed as “the college experience” on that campus, I achieved the ultimate in adult-lite independence: I moved into my own apartment. It was the top unit of an old but well-maintained three-unit building on Eighty-First Street nestled between Ashland and Damen in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood, which, as you might know, is the South Side of Chicago. And what you might also know, or at least suspect, is that this was not the South Side of the Obamas. We’re not talking about Hyde Park here. I was living on the South Side of the “people” whose reputation for violence has made any number of national headlines but where, despite said reputation, all manner of black folk freely roam, the . . .

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