Online Forum: Remembering Sandra Bland

Sandra Bland in March 2015 (Photo: Sandra Bland / Facebook).

*July 9-13, 2018

Black Perspectivesthe award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), is hosting an online forum on Sandra Bland (1987-2015), Black women, and police violence to commemorate her life and to recognize the three-year anniversary of her death (July 13, 2018). The forum centers Sandra Bland’s life and death through which contributors analyze the larger issues upon which her case touches, including police violence, white male patriarchal supremacy, the surveillance state, African American history in the U. S. South, #BlackLivesMatter, Black feminism, the politics of refusal, #SayHerName, the carceral state, and protest art. While many of the essays respond to the dashcam footage of Bland’s arrest on the afternoon of Friday, July 10, 2015, authors also explore the “Sandy Speaks” videos she recorded in early 2015 as well as the numerous poems, paintings, and other creative works generated in response to her death.

Organized by Keisha N. Blain (University of Pittsburgh) and Phillip Luke Sinitiere (College of Biblical Studies), the forum will feature essays from Keelyn Bradley (The European Graduate School)Cristina Mislán (University of Missouri), Alaina Morgan (Stanford University), Tyina Steptoe (University of Arizona), Phillip Luke Sinitiere (College of Biblical Studies), Jennifer Lynn Stoever (SUNY Binghamton), and Toniesha Taylor (Prairie View A&M University). The forum will also include creative works by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Durham, North Carolina) and Laurence Ralph (Harvard University), as well as an interview with poet Simone John (Boston, Massachusetts).

The forum begins on Monday, July 9, 2018 and concludes on Friday, July 13, 2018, the 3-year anniversary of Bland’s death. During the week of the online forum, Black Perspectives will publish new blog posts every day at 5:30AM EST. Please follow Black Perspectives (@BlkPerspectives) and AAIHS (@AAIHS) on Twitter; like AAIHS on Facebook; or subscribe to our blog for updates. By subscribing to Black Perspectives, each new post will automatically be delivered to your inbox during the week of the forum.

About the Participants

Keelyn Bradley is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought Division at The European Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland. He earned a BA in Political Science and Theatre Studies, with a Concentration in Black Studies from Swarthmore College, where he received a Mellon-Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and Rockefeller Brothers Fund Teachers Fellowship. He went on to study Systematic Theology at Union Theological Seminary at the master’s level before going on to earn an MA in the History of Philosophy from Cleveland State University. He is currently working on his dissertation, “Suffering Neoliberalism: Searching for the Meaning of ‘the right to equal protection’ in an Era of HIV/AIDS and Terrorism.” This study intends to research Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt’s theories of violence and embodiment, and their dual relation to Karl Jaspers’ existentialism while addressing the social and historical developments between the aesthetic dimensions of disease, disability, race, and heteronormativity. His poetry and plays have been included in the anthologies In Defense Of Mumia and Mighty Real: An Anthology of African American Same-Gender Loving Writing. His first collection of poetry, hunger, is forthcoming. He has worked on several short and feature-length film productions, most notably Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman. Follow him on Twitter @koal2k.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is your favorite cousin’s favorite cousin and a dedicated, sister, daughter, auntie and lover. She is also an acclaimed poet and a passionate community cherished scholar of Black feminisms, mothering, daughtering and Afro-Caribbean literature. As founder of Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, an intergalactic multiversity of which she is the priestess/provost, she honors the intellectual legacy of generations of Black visionaries while at the same time offering a glimpse into the world beyond and after the academic industrial complex. Alexis is the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke University Press, 2016), M Archive: After the End of the World (Duke University Press, 2018) and co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016). Alexis is visiting Winton Chair in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies at University of Minnesota Twin Cities 2017-2019 where she is working with Black feminist performance and theater artists to create embodied activations of her books. Follow her on Twitter @alexispauline.

Simone John is a poet, educator, and facilitator based in Boston, MA. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College with an emphasis on documentary poetics. Her poetry has appeared or been reviewed in Wildness, The Boston Globe, Public Pool, PBS Newshour, Bustle, and more. She is the Associate Director of Organizational Equity Practice at Trinity Boston Foundation and the Chief Creative Officer of Hive Soul Yoga, a community wellness business. Simone has facilitated workshops and retreats at colleges and organizations across New England. Areas of expertise include: professional development for teaching artists and youth workers; mindfulness and life design for millennials and creatives of color; and incorporating racial equity into organizational change processes. Testify is her first full-length book of poems. Follow her on Twitter @simoneivory.

Cristina Mislán is an Assistant Professor of Journalism Studies in the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her research focuses on media activism, social movements and media representation. Much of her work focuses the history of the black press, and how it has shaped national and international conversations around race, gender and class struggles. This research takes a transnational approach to studying how black intellectuals and activists have employed alternative media (both past and contemporary) to advocate for black liberation. Her more recent research has analyzed the role of media activism in the Ferguson Movement, complicating the relationship between the online and offline politics of the movement, and its intersected struggle against race and class oppression. Her current book project examines how the black press has imagined Cuba post-1959. Follow her on Twitter @c_mislan.

Alaina Morgan is a historian of race, religion, and politics in the African Diaspora.  She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Islam in North America in the Department of Religious Studies and the Sohail and Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University. She is currently editing her book manuscript, Atlantic Crescent: Black Muslim Internationalism, Anti-Colonialism, and Transnational Community Formation, which explores the ways that Islam and ideas of Blackness were used by Muslims in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Anglophone Caribbean to form the basis of transnational anti-colonial and anti-imperial political networks.   She received her Ph.D. from New York University’s Department of History in 2017 and a JD from Columbia University School of Law in 2006.

Laurence Ralph is a Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and African and African American Studies at Harvard University.  He is the author of Renegade Dreams: Living Through Injury in Gangland Chicago (University of Chicago Press). His scholarly work explores how the historical circumstances of police abuse, mass incarceration, and the drug trade naturalize disease, disability, and premature death for urban residents, who are often seen as expendable. Theoretically, his research resides at the nexus of critical medical and political anthropology, African American studies, and the emerging scholarship on disability. He combines these literatures to show how violence and injury play a central role in the daily lives of black urbanites. Laurence explored these diverse themes in Anthropological TheoryDisability Studies Quarterly, Transition, and Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. Follow him on Twitter @Laurence_Ralph.

Phillip Luke Sinitiere is Professor of History at the College of Biblical Studies, a predominately African American school located in Houston’s Mahatma Gandhi District. In 2018-19, he is a W. E. B. Du Bois Visiting Scholar at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A scholar of American religious history and African American Studies, his books include Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith (Oxford University Press, 2013); Protest and Propaganda: W. E. B. Du Bois, The Crisis, and American History (University of Missouri Press, 2014) and Salvation with a Smile: Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church, and American Christianity (New York University Press, 2015). He recently published “Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle for Sandra Bland,” in The Seedtime, the Work, & the Harvest (University Press of Florida, 2018), an essay volume on contemporary civil rights. Currently, he is at work on projects about W. E. B. Du Bois’s political and intellectual history, as well as a biography of twentieth-century writer James Baldwin. A published poet, recent pieces include “The Day Nonviolence Handcuffed Bull Connor on TV” and “Revolution’s Resolution” which both appeared in Beacon.  

Tyina Steptoe is an associate professor of history at the University of Arizona. She earned a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she completed her undergraduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, where she received a BS in Radio-Television-Film and a BA in History. Her work focuses on race, gender, and popular culture in the United States. Her book, Houston Bound: Culture and Color in a Jim Crow City (University of California Press, 2016), examines how the migration of black East Texans, Creoles of color, and ethnic Mexicans complicated notions of race in Houston between the 1920s and 1960s. Houston Bound has received several awards, including the Kenneth Jackson Award for Best Book (North American) from the Urban History Association, and the W. Turrentine Jackson Book Prize from the Western History Association. Her other writing has appeared in publications such as the American Quarterly, Journal of African American History, Journal of the West, and the Oxford American. She is currently working on a project that examines race and sexuality in rhythm and blues music. Follow her on Twitter @TyinaSteptoe.

Jennifer Lynn Stoever is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sounding Out!. She received her PhD in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California and is currently Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University, where she teaches courses on African American Literature, sound studies, and race and gender representation. She has published in Social Text, Social Identities, Sound Effects, American Quarterly, Radical History Review, and Modernist Cultures, among others and has an essay in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Studies. Jennifer recently published her first book, The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016) and just completed a large-scale community sound art project in Binghamton, New York in Spring 2018. Follow her on Twitter @soundingoutblog.

Toniesha Taylor is an Associate Professor of Communication in the Department Languages and Communication at Prairie View A&M University. She researches  African American history, Religion, Intercultural, Gender and Digital Humanities. In 2009, she completed a Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University in Communication Studies with a focus on Rhetoric. Recent research and conference presentations include discussions on womanist rhetoric as method and theory; practical social justice pedagogy for faculty and students; and digital humanities methods implications for activist recovery projects. Publications include “Saving Sound, Sounding Black and Voicing America: John Lomax and the Creation of the “American Voice”” in Sounding Out! (2015), and a co-authored essay with Amy E. Earhart titled “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson” in Debates in Digital Humanities, 2016, ed. by Lauren Klein and Matthew Gold. A recent Digital Humanities project, The Prairie View Women’s Oral History Project, is designed to collect, preserve, curate, and display the oral histories of women who have had a thirty (30) year or longer relationship to Prairie View A&M University. Follow her on Twitter @DrTonieshaT.

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