Domestic Labor and Pandemic

Welcome to the brave new world of cleaning up after yourself and no longer burdening black women with the unpaid labor and invisible upkeep of taking care of your personal hygiene and sanitation. Get used to cleaning up after your own damn self because we’re all nursemaids now.

Neither race, gender, class, nor your professional status will protect you from having to pitch in and handle your share of the dirty work. Wipe down that counter and polish away those smears. Not only will your work be invisible, but you’ll have to try and look good while performing it since, now, your job probably depends on it. It’s only what black women have been doing for free for the last four centuries.

So get to it! There’s plenty of unseen, undervalued work for everybody to do.


 
 
 

March 21, 2020. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . age, captions, sketch comedy, civic culture, civics, cute, cuteness, design, domestic, domestic labor, ethos, family, feminism, media, pandemic, parenting, professional writing, professionalism, psychology, rhetorics, sex & sexuality, sexual politics, Social Media, space, space & spatiality, spatial justice, spatial rhetorics. 1 comment.

Animal>>> Cyborg>>> Machine (2009)

This video is much racier and sleeker than the previous montage vid I posted; more sound effects and video clips.

December 4, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . #BlackLivesMatter, #ProfessionalBlackGirl, African Americans, art, automation, Blackness, blogging, civic culture, comics, communication, persuasion, politics, teaching, professional writing, composition, computers, cuteness, cyborgs, design, ethos, family, fashion, feminism, film, gender, higher education, hip-hop, information design, LGBT, rhetorics, robotics, science, sex & sexuality, sexual politics, sexual politics, space & spatiality, spatial justice, spatial rhetorics, style, technology, time & temporality, visual literacy, whiteness studies. Leave a comment.

Race & Cyberspace (March 2009)

Today while I was opening up old media files and preparing for the launch of CONJUREjournal, a new undergraduate digital publishing platform that I’m helping develop for our HBCU students, I came across this essay montage video that I made as a doctoral student almost 11 years ago. 

It was 2009. The iPhone was the hottest, must-have gadget on the market and the now, all-but-defunct iPod was still new. Despite the literally dozens of generations of  iOS and Android mobile devices that have come and gone in the last decade, sadly—though not surprisingly—generate many of the same debates surrounding technological access and what we’ve come to recognize as “algorithmic oppression.” 

Remember?

In those days, a cacophony of voices had declared it a “post-racial” era. To paraphrase Ta-Nehisi Coates, the president was black and Obama was about to be “eight years in power.” Fast forward to 2016 and it’s easy to understand why people might feel some nostalgia.

Also during that time, it was the boom years of what continues to be an offshoot field of English programs: digital rhetoric. We were still trying to figure out how to attribute authorial citations for on-screen projects and as one who was bearing witness to new idioms of expression, I decided to split the difference with a “SPECIAL THANKS” title card in the closing credits.

Another thing that strikes me about housing this and similar projects here on this very blog site is how much it looks like some kind of crazy time capsule. (I mean, can you say Tumblr gURLs?) The display and aesthetic layout right here appear less “cute” by today’s design standards—more kitsch—almost, in fact, quaint.

Quick warning: there’s nude content with images from a couple of Vanessa Beecroft’s conceptual art installations between the 1:05 and 1:22 time marks. 

 

December 4, 2019. Tags: , , , . #ProfessionalBlackGirl, African Americans, Blackness, communication, persuasion, politics, teaching, professional writing, digital literacy, gender, higher education, information design, literacy, multimodal, politics, professional writing, race, racism, rhetorics, space, spatial justice, technology, video, visual literacy, whiteness studies, writing. Leave a comment.

Making Light of Prisoner Abuse

But is anybody really surprised?

Corrections officers who partook in the #feelingcutechallenge earlier this month are now resigning or being fired after their posts went viral for all the wrong reasons.10620212-3x2-940x627

April 25, 2019. rhetorics. Leave a comment.

Thanks, Cs! 

postracial hauntings book coverRhetorics of Whiteness: Postracial Hauntings in Popular Culture, Social Media, and Education (2017)features the chapter, “Color Deafness: White Writing as Palimpsest for African American in Breaking Bad Screen Captioning and Video Technologies English” coauthored by Nicole E. Snell and yours truly—won the 2018 Conference on College Composition & Communication Outstanding Book Award in the Edited Collection category. This award would not have been possible without the steadfast commitment and encouragement of the collection’s editors: Tammie M. Kennedy, Joyce Irene Middleton, and Krista Ratcliffe.

This Southern Illinois University Press publication is made all the more special by the esteemed list of fellow constributors: Sarah E. Austin, Lee Bebout, Jennifer Beech, Cedric Burrows, Leda Cooks, Sharon Crowley, Anita M. DeRouen, Tim Engles, Christine Farris, Amy Goodburn, M. Shane Grant, Gregory Jay, Ronald A. Kuykendall, Kristi McDuffie, Alice McIntyre, Peter McLaren, Keith D. Miller, Lilia D. Monzó, Casie Moreland, Ersula Ore, Annette Harris Powell, Catherine Prendergast, Meagan Rodgers, Jennifer Seibel Trainor, Victor Villanueva, and Hui Wu.

The award ceremony takes place next week during the CCCC National Convention in Kansas City. 

March 11, 2018. African Americans, Breaking Bad, captions, sketch comedy, cinema, communication, communication, persuasion, politics, teaching, professional writing, conventions, digital literacy, education, film, rhetorics, spatial rhetorics, technology, video, visual literacy, White Studies, writing. Leave a comment.

ELEVATE (Going… Up!)

Dr. Nicole A. McFarlane, an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Fayetteville State University (FSU), has been named a 2017 ELEVATE (Enriching Learning, Enhancing Visibility & Training Educators) Fellow through the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI). McFarlane is one of 18 fellows nationwide selected for the program, and is one of only eight Presidential Fellows.Elevate.png

March 18, 2017. Tags: , . education, higher education, rhetorics, summertime. Leave a comment.

AAE, Actually: Black English as Literal Gag

SNL poked a little fun at the recent 2016 presidential election. It’s a digital video short—a parodic take on the iconic note card scene from the classic rom-com Love, Actually.

All the big punchlines are about Hillary putting in some overtime for the holidays. Hillary’s making the rounds with a particularly persuasive cache of giant note cards, to cajole white female delegates into changing their minds and casting their electoral college votes for her instead of Trump. The note cards’ captioned Black English is a clever comedic prop, a literal gag where she’s not allowed to speak. Rather, she must soldier on, quietly and supportively. You know, the way a nice lady is supposed to behave.

And poor ol’ Hills… overachieving as always, giving it her all and trying to keep it “cute and on mute” in her last-ditch effort to win over just enough faithless electors to reverse Trump’s victory.

A girl can dream, can’t she?

Watch what happens at 1:06-1:11; 1:39-1:43; 2:18-2:28. Check out the discursive leveler, zero copula, final consonant reductions, and number concord inversion… But as we know, and the post-election data clearly indicates, the real gag is in the silent majority of white voters who chose a pussy-grabbing sexual predator over a competent and seasoned stateswoman who was—quite arguably—the most qualified presidential candidate in modern US history.

Chapter 15 of this book can tell you more.

postracial hauntings book cover

January 11, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , . captions, sketch comedy, civic culture, civics, elections, electoral politics, gender, political campaign, politics, rhetorics, TV, visual literacy, White Studies. Leave a comment.

Rhetorics and Ambiguity

As a black woman I rarely have the privilege of perceiving nakedness and lack of direction as “freeing”—quite the opposite. The point is not to evoke an essentialist stance, but to caution against the potential for a type of solipsism born of white heteronormative neoliberal paradigms. There’s good reason as to why black churchgoing women’s unique testimony involves being “clothed and in our right minds.”

Directionless-ness

Compelled to respond in the mode of cyberflâneus—as opposed to the flâneur, her masculine counterpart—the creative and critical endeavors I pursue seek and receive pleasure from visual, spatial, and tactile sensations, as the deliberate fashioning of online and real world personas across the darker parts of the rainbow. The constraints of respectability politics, of course, compel the performance of citizenship of the industrious and productive variety—in other words, that of a crafty black woman whose labor constantly threatens cooptation. Dwelling in this space as a woman otherwise, risks the designation of “digital streetwalker.” Feminine bodies, we’re told, must caution against following blind wanderlust, whether virtual or real.

Smart ways to use poetry in a street fight

Johan Deckmann (graphic artist)

Rhetoric is the battleground of ideas and budding composition teachers should be encouraged to recognize the stakes in such battles. Intradisciplinary contests between cultural studies and technical writing, now being fought over critical approaches to highly politicized issues, are actually a strong sign of the intellectual vitality of rhetoric and composition education. On either end of the spectrum, digital humanities needs to be applied creatively, as foundational to academic inquiry. 

I guess this is why I insist on playing with elements of rhetoric to resist, even antagonize, systemic instances of neoliberal misogynoir at times. At the same time I acknowledge my habits/impulses to respond productively in online spaces. A digital libertine, I am not for being rotten with the Protestant work ethic… and so I think of haiku headlines as another digital composing strategy.

November 18, 2016. art, Blackness, communication, persuasion, politics, teaching, professional writing, composition, design, digital literacy, education, feminism, information design, literacy, media, multimodal, poetry, rhetorics, school, teaching, visual literacy, White Studies, writing. Leave a comment.

Professional Black Girl: Video Series Celebrates ‘Everyday Excellence’ of Black Women

Professional Black Girl: Video Series Celebrates ‘Everyday Excellence’ of Black Women and Girls and explores the love language shared by black women, and how we twerk and work with unmatched professionalism. 

Episode 1

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#ProfessionalBlackGirl

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DURHAM, N.C. — Dr. Yaba Blay, renowned activist, cultural critic, and producer, launches Professional Black Girl, an original video series created to celebrate everyday Black womanhood, and to smash racist and “respectable” expectations of how they should “behave.”

Seventeen Black women and girls ranging in age from 2- to 52-years-old were interviewed for the series. Each episode features a candid discussion with personalities such as Grammy Award-winning recording artist, Rapsody; Joan Morgan, author of the Hip-Hop feminist classic When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost; and 13-year-old world traveler Nahimana Machen, sharing what it means to be a “Professional Black Girl.”

“‘Professional Black Girl’ looks like Taraji P. Henson at the 2015 Emmys jumping up to hug Viola Davis. It looks like Mary J. Blige and Taraji and Kerry Washington in that Apple commercial. It looks like me rolling up to a room full of people in Berlin to speak with my bamboo earrings on,” explains Tarana Burke, a non-profit consultant and fashion blogger featured in the series.

Limited edition Professional Black Girl merchandise, created in partnership with Philadelphia Printworks, is available now onphiladelphiaprintworks.com. The first full episode, featuring Dr. Blay, will air September 9, 2016, with an episode airing each Friday onYouTube and yabablay.com until December 23, 2016.

The terminology that is often used to describe and define Black girls—such as bad, grown, fast, ghetto, and ratchet—are non-affirming and are words that are intended to kill the joy and magic within all Black girls,” says Dr. Blay. “We are professional code-switchers, hair-flippers, hip-shakers, and go-getters. We hold Ph.Ds and listen to trap music; we twerk and we work. We hold it down while lifting each other up, and we don’t have to justify or explain our reason for being. This is us.”

Follow #ProfessionalBlackGirl across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to celebrate and affirm the everyday excellence of Black women and girls.

For more information, or to interview Dr. Yaba Blay, please contact Shakirah Gittens at 718-687-6231 or by email at info@DynamicNLyfe.com.

September 9, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . #ProfessionalBlackGirl, African Americans, beauty, communication, persuasion, politics, teaching, professional writing, composition, cute, cuteness, design, digital literacy, ethos, fashion, feminism, feminity, gender, hair, media, play, politics, professionalism, race, rhetorics, sexual politics, style, technology, video, visual literacy, YouTube. Leave a comment.

Wilmore turns WHCD into room of uncomfortable white people

Larry Wilmore got booed for his humorous observations (not to be confused with “observational humor) hit home with presidential policy and the news media. Wilmore didn’t leave Hollywood out of view for attack. Everything was fair game for Wilmore: Obama’s troubled legacy of Guantanamo Bay, our continued war with Afghanistan, and targeted drone strikes. Yet Wilmore soldiered on despite seeming nervous at first. Overcoming his social anxiety, in truest “blerd” fashion, he threw in a routine quip about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. The White House Correspondents Dinner audience booed Wilmore again. Some of the audience even hissed. I loved every minute of it because this was the turn for Wilmore’s monologue. And it was for me too, especially as a home streaming viewer.

I suspect perhaps that Wilmore is an experienced enough comic to have been tipped off to the fact that the dinner’s attendees (DC politicians and their cohorts from the mainstream news media) are a bunch of gross narcissists on some complete bullshit. Wilmore no doubt understands the booing response to a harmless joke about Bill Cosby elicited from his immediate audience of elite politicians and journalists would be the interpretive comedic inverse to whatever black video streamers outside the Beltway would be thinking: “Call the no-good bastards out, Larry!”

Wilmore seemed to use the Cosby joke for pathos to gauge his audience’s ethos and went for the logos of low-hanging comedic fruit: dick jokes. Wilmore’s comic genius is in knowing that his immediate audience is made up of a group of people less concerned about the optics of their annual banquet than they are about being in the room. I for one will miss watching him on The Nightly Show.

August 31, 2016. rhetorics. Leave a comment.

Walking in the Dark: Blue Lights & Flashlights

Proud blogger and eldest son.

Proud blogger and eldest son.

Today I have a guest post from my eldest child, Khembara. For longtime followers of CircuitouslyCute.com, you should already know, one reason for this blog is because of my kids. So, Dear Reader, without further ado and to spare you from yet more of my gushing… Enjoy!


I am a 23 year old black male. When I lived in Savannah, Georgia I lived in fear because overseer’s, the term for officer’s during slavery, would routinely stop me and harass me when I walked in the streets due to lack of government funding for sidewalks. They would say each time “there have been a lot of car break-ins in this area…” This also happened to me in Clemson, South Carolina where I was even more terrified. They would then proceed to frisk me and check for warrants, all while shining bright flashlights into my eyes. This happened on almost a weekly basis.  An NPR broadcast stated that one of police officers’ favorite weapons to use is the flashlight. Their first choice unfortunately is the gun.

If there were sidewalks in Savannah, there were no street lights for me to see them, so I had to walk in the road. This caused me to always live in fear of bodily harm from police, cars, or street-level predators. There have been hundreds of thousands of police killings in America since slavery. I feel, as a young black man, this targeting of black people by institutional racist gangs of cops should be stopped. From my perspective, it’s the cops who act like domestic terrorists. Many cops are mentally unstable and need better evaluation to be held accountable for their careless actions. Too many police are a poison to the black community.

July 20, 2016. Tags: , . #BlackLivesMatter, children, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Movement, discrimination, masculinity, parenting, police, race, racism, rhetorics, spatial justice. Leave a comment.

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