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Thinking Black Girlhood as Ecology for the Afro-Future

Fri, November 9, 4:00 to 5:45pm, Westin Peachtree, Floor: Twelfth, Piedmont 1 (Twelfth)

Abstract

Black girlhood as a fraught socialization process is rarely legible as an environmental justice issue. Recent narratives surrounding both the precarity and promise of black girlhood, however, reveal its usefulness for bringing ecologically-threatened “black/afro-futurity” out of the abstract/fantastic/commercialized/masculinized and into the realm of the intimate and quotidian. In order to highlight the legibility of black girlhood as a distinctly environmental issue, I turn first to photographer Latoya Ruby Frazier’s 2016 show “Flint is Family,” which documents Frazier’s five months spent in Flint with the Cobb family (poet Shea Cobb, her mother Renee, and her daughter Zion) in the aftermath of the still-unresolved Flint water crisis. I then turn to the story of Bronx mother Tiesha Jones being handed a $57 million verdict in Jan 26, 2018 after a years-long battle fighting for justice for her daughter Dakota Taylor who’d been led-poisoned as a result of the negligence of the New York Housing Authority. I turn to these two events and the narratives surrounding them to challenge the limits of our paradigmatic (and often abstract/fantastic) way of thinking afrofuturity. I do this to widen the scope of engagement around black girlhood and it’s connection to experiences of environmental degradation, to reveal its indispensability for theorizing an ecologically ideal afro-future attentive to the needs of some of our most vulnerable and otherwise neglected subjects in the West.

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