On Suite: Series Introduction

The proposition for this series is one that hinges on hubristic humility, paradoxically enough. That is, while the series entries — which comprise intellectual musings, personal conveyances of inner emotional life, popular discourses, and the like — all concern “me,” as it were, they are also, simultaneously, gracious pleas or, put another way, vulnerable outreaches for a kind of connection denied or avoided. This series, which I’ve titled an “‘On’ Suite” (get it?), is characterized by entries that concern a specific topic, entries that are “On” something — for this series, On: Lived Experience, Sociality, Authenticity, and America.

These entries are essayistic prayers for interpersonal communion, intellectual communion, where pews might be reconfigured — indeed, transfigured — into the treated wooden bridge bringing together all those misunderstood or outcast or lonely or awkward others who might, I hope, find solace, if only briefly, with me. I write these on various topics that all, somehow, circulate around constitutive vectors of identity but are shot through with the stuff of the quotidian and, dare I presumptively and tongue-in-cheekily say, universal human experience. And, so as not to underestimate such a grounding characteristic, these essays express a marked irreverence. Sometimes you just have to break with the norm, even if the norm, corralled as it may be, is coming from those we are told are kin.

To the extent to which any treatise with the title “On …” implies a grand gestural decree on a topic, a putting an end to the question, I want to offer the obverse: that the entries in this suite of musings open up questions thought irrelevant or outside a particular scope or not quite the right essay for me to write. I write these for the Black folks who kept their mouths shut in the room when they felt rumblings, simmering critiques dwelling within them during the Blackety Black rap sesh; I write these for the queers of color who might not find their queerness expressed or constituted by the boisterous and beautiful scene of the ballroom or the club; I write these for the people from the ‘hood who might love watching reruns of Seinfeld or swooning to Alessia Cara; I write these, so very timidly, for those who are seen all the time yet never known, heard time and again but never listened to.

This “On” Suite series, like its homophonic domestic kin en suite, adds depth to the very places we are told should feel like home, places where we should be able to rest comfortably. This series is for those who may not have found a fit yet, may not have found their “people.” But I assure you, I hope with you, that they are out there.

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Marquis Bey

Marquis Bey is Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English at Northwestern University. Marquis is the author of Them Goon Rules: Fugitive Essays on Radical Black Feminism (2019) and Anarcho-Blackness: Notes Toward a Black Anarchism​ (2020). Currently Marquis is working on an academic monograph on Black trans feminism. Find Marquis on Twitter at @marquisdbey.