Charnesia Corley & a Storify for the #blkwomensyllabus

Screenshot of photos tagged #blkwomensyllabus as of 2015 August 13 | 00:11:23 (Snapped by Jessica Marie Johnson)
Screenshot of photos tagged #blkwomensyllabus as of 2015 August 13 | 00:11:23 (Snapped by Jessica Marie Johnson)

This past Monday, a young black woman in Texas named Charnesia Corley was stopped by the police as she ran an errand for a family member. Officers held her down, stripped her, and forced her to undergo a cavity search (including a search of her vaginal area). Corley’s assault follows the alleged suicide of Sandra Bland, arrested after a traffic stop, also in Texas. It also follows the assault of a young girl in McKinney, TX, tackled to the ground after daring to talk back to police officers summoned to break up a teenage pool party.

Texas. Oh, Texas.

The details of Corley’s encounter (available here) became public on the heels of a weekend of police violence (including the officer involved shooting of 18 year old Tyrone Harris) and harassment of protestors attending the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. Women, girls, queer and trans people of color continue to show up as protestors and organizers on the ground, continue to serve as support in a host of ways. And yet, it remains difficult to render violence against black, queer, and trans women and gender non-conforming black folks legible, visible, and unacceptable. Discussions of on-going conflict between black feminist and black queer public thinkers and #NoTepTwitter (also known as #HotepTwitter), a subsidiary of #BlackTwitter especially concerned with dismissing black women and black queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people’s issues as secondary to black (cis-heterosexual men’s) liberation demonstrate the same.

In a tweet expressing frustration and rage, Associate Professor of History Daina Ramey Berry asked educators to respond to this latest injustice with a #blkwomensyllabus:

What unfolded was an outpouring of material from across fields, disciplines, media formats, all paying homage to the impact violence has had on black women, black queer and trans women, and gender non-conforming black people–and the ways we resist. The list of contributors spread well beyond academia as activists, journalists, writers, media-makers, and community members from around the country and the world offered their suggestions or simply offered words of encouragement and support.

Below is the master Storify for the #blkwomensyllabus at the time of this blog posting. The list is on-going and incomplete. More material from across the worldwide African diaspora is needed. Texts and material related to black lesbian, black queer and black trans women, across time and space, is also needed. Finally, some topics could use more attention: disability studies, digital humanities, social sciences, STEM.

The Storify is nearly at the 1000 tweet limit, but never fear! Berry, Ashley Farmer of this blog, and others are hard at work populating a wiki that can host the list and make it accessible for public editing.

The #blkwomensyllabus is not the first hashtag syllabus of its kind to address black women’s experiences specifically. In July, Kaye Wise Whitehead created the #SayHerNameSyllabus to bring attention to black women as historical figures and make black women visible as political actors across time and place despite the racialized and gendered violence they often faced for simply existing. The #blkwomansyllabus is absolutely part of this conversation, a conversation Whitehead, and, above all, Marcia Chatelain (creator of #FergusonSyllabus) started long ago. To be part of it is a privilege and an honor.

It is also no coincidence that black women, as thinkers and educators, are taking the lead and demanding our stories take center stage. Black women continue to shape and reshape the way violence is understood, especially in relation to issues of gender and sexuality. Doing so, telling our stories, writing our narratives, documenting in film and dance and literary texts the ways we have survived and the battles we have waged changes the way history is taught and contemporary events are curated.

Browse the Storify. Add more items in the comments. And stay tuned here at the African American Intellectual History Society Blog for updates, blog posts, and more. More to come…


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Jessica Marie Johnson

Jessica Marie Johnson is an Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include women, gender, and sexuality in the African diaspora; histories of slavery and the slave trade; and digital history and new media and has appeared in Slavery & Abolition and Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism. Follow her on Twitter @jmjafrx.