An Interview With Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Who Teaches A Class On Beyoncé » VSB

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An Interview With Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Who Teaches A Class On Beyoncé

Dr. Kinitra Brooks

 

A few weeks ago, I saw on Facebook that somebody was teaching a class on Beyoncé and specifically Lemonade at the University of Texas-San Antonio. I thought to myself, that’s pretty cool. Well, as luck would have it, a friend of hers who reads VSB reached out and said that the professor was both an avid reader and sharer of VSB articles. Well, since I appreciate avid readers and sharers of VSB articles and since I was intrigued by the idea of the class itself, I said to myself, “Self, mayhaps you should reach out and talk to said professor, Dr. Kinitra Brooks, about the class, if she’s open to it.” Turns out she was. Below is the email exchange interview we had about her, her class, and Beyoncé as an academic subject. Shouts to Dr. Brooks for being awesome.

Panama: First, tell me (and the people) a bit about yourself. All I know so far is that you teach at the University of Texas-San Antonio, and that you’re teaching a class called “Black Women, Beyoncé & Popular Culture” and Lemonade will feature prominently, I believe. Which is awesome. Like, I can’t tell you how awesome I find that. But what’s your background? Who exactly are you?

Dr. Kinitra Brooks, Ph.D.: I am a New Orleans native. I have my PhD in Comparative Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill. I specialize in African American and Afro-Caribbean women’s literature and film. I am actually a horror scholar. I have a scholarly book coming out Fall (2017) titled Searching for Sycorax: Black Women Haunting Contemporary Horror and I also co-edited (with horror poet Linda Addison and fellow scholar Susana Morris) a creative anthology titled Sycorax’s Daughters which features short horror fiction written by black women.

I am interested in how black women remix, revise, and reimagine the horror genre both as characters and creators of horror. So, I have a scholarly article published about Michonne and Selena in The Walking Dead and 28 Days Later, respectively.

I am most interested in how black women take folklore and syncretic religious practices (so spiritual practices that mix West African religion with Christianity) in their creative fiction and use it as a place of power and subversion against the horror genre and classic readings of black women’s literature.

I read Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day as a great example of black women writing horror which focuses on a Conjure Woman and her lineage. I read Nalo Hopkinson’s fiction as this wonderful manifestation of Caribbean horror–which stems from the folklore.

P: You know how you ask somebody a question and the answer you get is nothing like you expected? That’s exactly what just happened. For starters, I’ve never heard the term “horror scholar” and it’s not because I don’t get out enough. What got you so interested in the horror genre? Especially to the point where you decided to make it into a scholarly endeavor? For the record, I dodge horror films as a rule. It’s not that I’m scared, it’s just that the way my imagination is set up, after watching Stephen King’s IT, I didn’t sleep for, like, 10 years. I’m still tired.

KB: LOL! I know, what I do usually sends folks left. I got into horror from my Dad (and his side of the family). My Dad was a blerd before we even knew what it was. We did an interview with him about it here at the Black Speculative Arts Digital Archive. My book opens up with a memory of the first time I saw Vamp with Grace Jones with my Aunt Errolyn and my cousin, Lee.  Remember that movie? (Panama Note: I do not. Not even a little bit.) And it scared the crap out of me. But even then, I noticed that Katrina NEVER spoke! The entire film she’s a central character and she never says a mumbling word! Where dey do dat at? And then, when she went into full monster mode–they basically exaggerated all of her African features (nose, mouth, etc.,). Even as a little girl I was like…something is off.

I watched Night of the Living Dead with my Dad early on. And then I got into Stephen King in 6th grade. It scarred me for life. I still sleep with the light on when my husband is out of town. And then me and my Dad were really into Buffy and Angel (we are now obsessed with Supernatural) and I was HIGHLY pissed when they killed the black slayer, Kendra. (I’m STILL pissed)

But our ideas of fear and what scares us is heavily influenced by culture and society. The majority of horror traffics in some form of Negrophobia or Gynophobia. And since I studied black women, I’ve always been fascinated by what happens if you fit both of those qualities? Both black AND woman? And I’ve been down that rabbit hole ever since.

Plus black women have BEEN writing horror and trafficking in supernatural themes, it was simply called something else. Folklore (Zora Neale Hurston) or magical realism (Toni Morrison). But so much of the scholarship has focused on the horrors of enslavement but not actual horror itself. And granted, sometimes there are valid intersections of those areas, but other times, not so much.

P: I have now spoken more about horror anything in these few questions than I have in the entire 37 years of my existence. You have changed my life. Thank you. So now that I know a bit about you, let’s talk about this class and how you ended up getting this approved. For starters, are you a huge Beyoncé fan? I am. I’m guessing you’d need to be in order to teach an entire class about her. I ain’t saying you have to be part of the Beyhive, but I guess it might help. But what spurred this idea and turned it into an actual class? And why?

KB: How did I get it approved? I’ve taught kooky classes before. I’m the weird one in the department. So, I’ve taught Horror Text & Theory, Black Women in Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror, Speculative Black Women, Bad Black Mothers–so a class about Beyoncé was almost normal at this point. My department is pretty supportive about my course choices.

I have become a Beyoncé fan with her last two projects. Before then, I was pretty fairweather in my fandom. I enjoyed and appreciated her music and definitely her Black woman Southerness but I wouldn’t have called myself a true fan.

It was really in defending Beyoncé’s choices to other folks that I literally had an “Omigosh. I’m in the Beyhive!” moment. She got such flack for her last album (self-titled Beyoncé) and daring to be sexual with her husband. I was just like, look the woman has followed all of the rules that society makes for black women–she’s conventionally attractive with enough curves to be appealing, she comes from a two-parent home, she got married to a successful Black man who was just street enough, and then she had her child–and now she can’t sing about banging her husband? Whatever.

I tell my students and my friends, black women are going to be denigrated no matter what you choose. You might as well be yourself and be happy.

But the Lemonade project was completely different. It was that moment where she recites the “Anger” section. Where she discusses literally wearing the other woman’s skin and using her spine as a bedazzled cane…I literally jumped off my seat. That’s the Boo Hag! That’s the Soucouyant! These are folkloric characters who are know for shedding own skin (soucouyant) or wearing the skin of another (Boo Hag). That fell right into my research! And they say black women don’t do horror?

I was also co-teaching a Black Lives Matter class when “Formation” dropped. Me and other black feminist scholars were literally analyzing the video in the comment sections and DMs of Facebook. The next class, I began to show my students our work so they could see theoretical frameworks being constructed by academics as it happened and they were SO into it!

A few weeks later, Candice Benbow released the Lemonade Syllabus with lots of material with which I was quite familiar. At that point, I knew I could make this into a class.

P: I think it’s awesome that your school is supportive of your course choices. I’ve often wondered if Black professors were stymied in taking chances or if many just weren’t actually taking chances. Granted, I’m about 13 years out of any type of educational institution so it’s entirely possible that there are courses on all fashion of the Black experience, but we always seem to hear about them for a reason. So the Beyoncé fan in me is excited that any classes of the sort exist. And I do think she took her artistry into a whole different stratosphere with the release of Lemonade.

Seems like the visuals alone are ripe for the picking for all matters of the experience of Black women, in particular. It’s for reasons like that I wish that I could audit a class just to see what Beyoncé in an academic setting looks like. So, what DOES Beyoncé in an academic setting look like? What’s the approach? Projects? Tell me about the class!

KB: Some do and get stymied. Some don’t and won’t take that chance. I believe my freedom in course choices to be not necessarily unique but also not necessarily common. Some folks get handed a syllabus when they arrive with the understanding that this is the way the department has taught African American literature for the last 15 years and expects to teach it for the next 15 years. I also earn/balance out my course freedom by teaching core or service course like the Intro courses that are the workhorses of the department. So, I’m also teaching Introduction to Graduate Studies along with the Beyoncé course.

Hmm. Beyoncé in an academic setting. I’ve included the syllabus (Beyonce Syllabus) so you can see what’s going on but it’s about using Lemonade as a framework with which to enter a conversation that’s been going on about black womanhood amongst black women for over a century. Janell Hobson has spoken about Beyoncé as a Conjure Woman and so I have the students read her blog post and then use that idea to introduce the folkloric figure of The Conjure Woman–who first appeared in African American literature in the late 19th-Century in a collection of stories by Charles Chesnutt. So we read about the oral folklore concerning the Conjure Woman in the work of Kameelah Martin and then look at the contemporary literary manifestation of the Conjure Woman by reading Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day. So the students start with Beyoncé and expand further into classic African American literature and folklore.

Though today, I finally admitted to the students what they all knew. They had been bamboozled! Led astray (Their words!) because I have them reading hardcore literary theory and analyzing complex literature and folklore all under the guise of studying Beyoncé.

But the class wouldn’t be so successful if I didn’t have such a strong group of students. They are working their butts off and thinking about blackness and womanhood in popular culture and literature they never thought they could accomplish. And I am so proud of them. They continue to amaze me because they are so passionate and yet complex in their assessments of the readings.

And today I assigned them to make their own Lemonade Short films they write, film, edit, and analyze themselves.

P: I imagine that the possibility of taking a class about Beyoncé, and specifically Lemonade would be very well received by students, even if they do feel bamboozled. What kind of students sign up for the class? Do you think they’ll come out with a greater appreciation for Beyoncé and look at Lemonade differently? Has teaching this class made you look at Beyoncé differently?

KB: Teaching this class has definitely made me see her differently. I think I respect her more because of how deeply so many of the students admire her. And how hard they are willing to work to understand more of what she is doing.

We have all kinds of students. Half of the class is Black women. The other half is a healthy mix of Latina and white students, male and female, and across the sexuality spectrum. I am surprised by the number of straight male students of color (Black and Latino) that are in the class who are doing the work.

I also want to be clear. None of the students are drinking Beyoncé Kool-Aid. They have some hard questions for her and the work and make me think harder about the work. They push back in terms of who isn’t included in Lemonade that often go hard for Beyoncé–fat women and men who identify as queer (particularly those of color).

I can’t wait until we read the pieces that push back at Lemonade and they take their analysis even deeper. We are going to read Ashleigh Shackleford’s piece on Lemonade and feeling excluded and I think it is strong and going to really push the students to interrogate Beyoncé and the text for weaknesses and examine her imperfections, which is necessary as critics of Beyoncé and popular culture as a whole. But I continue to reiterate, similar to their support of Lemonade–their critiques of Lemonade must be as supported and documented by the evidence.

P: Well I think this is all awesome and I really appreciate you taking the time to share and discuss the class with me. As a student of pop culture, I’m always intrigued when academics find ways to intermingle the two worlds. Has the class and response from students met your own expectations? And are there any other types of classes you hope to bring to the masses that are in similar veins? I understand if you can’t let that cat out of the bag, but I had to ask. And lastly, is there anything additional that you’d like to share about the class, life, or anything? The floor is yours!

KB: Wow, the entire floor? That makes me nervous.

My students have exceeded my expectations. The response for the class has been out of control. I simply wanted to work out my thoughts on Lemonade with my students as I am co-writing an article with Dr. Kameelah Martin! A great trick we academics use is to center your class readings/teachings on your current research so you are FORCED to do the reading and writing–because you have to teach it.

I’m currently working on a course on Afrofuturism and planning a visit from Black Kirby next semester to talk about Blackness, comic books, and cool science fiction stuff.

Anything I can do to get my students excited about literature and cultural studies concerning black womanhood in all its many different aspects, I’m in. Lemonade is not perfect, nothing is, but it gave many of us scholars an opportunity, an entrance into the enthusiasm of our students. Many of my colleagues had students emailing us and asking all kinds of interesting questions and courses like this are our opportunity to weave together what our students see every day and the socio-cultural structures that gird them. We also get a chance to share what we do and remove some of the mystery that surrounds academia for folks.

Thank you for this opportunity. I really enjoyed our conversation and thanks for showing some love to academia. I really enjoy your website and have been following y’all for years. (And sometimes fighting in the comment sections–under my secret agent alias, of course!)

Have a wonderful day!

P: Thank you!

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Val

    *hoping for a Friday shenanigans post*

    It’s been a long week. Sigh.

    • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

      Hahaha, I thought that before I logged in earlier. Fingers crossed “oh please let it be a day of shenanigans.”

      It’s been deep in “black” around this place since Trump started really showing out. I’m riding out all the blackety black posts.

      • Val

        Yep. An Ask Agatha post would be right on time.

        • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

          Mm hmm

        • It’s the weekend.
          Somebody will start freestyling on the shenannigry. Just you wait.

          • LMNOP

            Let’s talk about s ex toys. There are SO many of them out there, and I don’t know nearly enough about this.

            Also, let’s talk about food. Delicious food, and what should I cook this weekend?

            • Food and secks.
              Welp, its a start.

              • LMNOP

                I mean, I don’t see you starting ish…

            • cyanic

              I like men in costumes. Articles of clothing on partially nude bodies is my thing. Anything second skin (see-through) or animal print. Leather because you know texture.

              • LMNOP

                Any in particular costumes?

                • cyanic

                  Everything really. The most arousing usually is non-fetish wear. Regular clothing that fits the character of your partner.

                  • I’m an artist…
                    I guess I could rock a mean beret, and for a paint brush, hmmmmm

                    • cyanic

                      A prop paint brush would be unnecessary since the purpose of the whole thing is the symbolic one.

                    • I could paint hands free.

                    • Blueberry01

                      Truth.

                    • Smh@you

                    • Blueberry01

                      ?…I’m going to my corner now…

                  • Blueberry01

                    So, how would regular clothing be considered a costume?

                    • cyanic

                      If you can ascribe a label to someone’s dress. Something that said they’re apart of this group with this type of personality. A cat daddy when he’s black certainly does things differently than the cat daddies of other races clothing wise.

                    • Blueberry01

                      1) Please remove “cat daddy” from your vocabulary when referencing anyone or anything, unless you’re referring to the now defunct dance of the early aughts. Lol.

                      2) There’s different types of black people that wear different clothes in different ways for different reasons at different times. Can you please provide an example? I’m not sure if I follow you.

                    • cyanic

                      You’re making me more interesting than I believe myself to be. I could post photo examples to illustrate. But I’ll clue you in this way think of older black men who seem themselves as sexy in a style of dress that was once current from the 70s and 80s.

                    • Blueberry01

                      VSB Rule #1: Believe in yourself and believe you are, in and of itself, dope. No negative self-talk.

                      VSB Rule #2: Repeat Rule #1?

                      Ohhhh, I get what you mean now! Yes, I’m aware of the #SoulTrainChic dudes.

              • Blueberry01

                I’m curious, what kind of men are you instantly attracted to? Tall/short, light/dark, muscular/slim, dimples…

                Describe him.

                • cyanic

                  Black men are my default setting in all incarnations. When I was more open to other races I preferred them with dark features. Masculine without having to be an alpha male. Short brothas with fine faces and big boot-ies are underrated. Since God made me light skin I prefer medium brown and blue black brothas. I don’t mind thickness on a man. He seems more blue collar when you know he enjoys his food. I prefer men my age or older. And if younger you need to be an old young where you look older and you act and think older. Make me look immature in comparison to you. Which isn’t that hard apparently.

                  • LMNOP

                    +1 on short brothas being underrated.

                  • Blueberry01

                    “When I was more open to other races I preferred them with dark features.”

                    1) Why did you stop being open to other races?

                    2) What are “dark” features?

                    “I don’t mind thickness on a man. He seems more blue collar when you know he enjoys his food.”

                    3) Is it important that you date someone who is blue collar, or are you open to other income levels.

                    4) Just because someone is not thick, doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy food (or can put it away).?

                    “And if younger you need to be an old young where you look older and you act and think older. Make me look immature in comparison to you. Which isn’t that hard apparently.”

                    5) Did you just take a shot…at yourself? Are you calling yourself (and other people that I associate with) immature?

                    If so, why do you believe that you’re immature?

                    • cyanic

                      I want black affirmation through a romantic coupling with another black person. By cutting off everyone else as an option I’m investing in my cultural identity. Brown or black eyes/hair would be dark features to me. Having a job is all that matters to me. Not if you’re wealthy or on your way to wealthy. My immaturity is apart of being a late bloomer with my peers. Which is fine by me as long as I get to the destination eventually.

                    • Blueberry01

                      “I want black affirmation through a romantic coupling with another black person. By cutting off everyone else as an option I’m investing in my cultural identity.”

                      Is it possible to invest in your cultural identity – or any other aspect of your identity – without having to seek black affirmation and/or eliminating other cultures/races?

                      “Having a job is all that matters to me. Not if you’re wealthy or on your way to wealthy.”

                      Meaning that if you’re a financially stable position, your job doesn’t matter? Or, do you expect more than just having employment out of wealthy individuals?

                      “My immaturity is apart of being a late bloomer with my peers. Which is fine by me as long as I get to the destination eventually.”

                      AMEN. Comparison is the death of happiness.

                    • cyanic

                      I adapt for relationships. So if my partner were a foreigner I’d want to know more about their culture. Believing it’d earn me greater access into them and intensifying our intimacy. Black on black love is as undervalued in this world as black self-love. Someone earning an honest solid living is enough. Some people need ambitious folk. I’m ambitious enough for the two of us.

                    • Blueberry01

                      “Black on black love is as undervalued in this world as black self-love.”

                      I personally think this is dependent on how you were raised. If you did not have any positive, well-functioning role models or relationships to emulate, one’s perspective could be negative towards black love.

                      You’d also be surprised how a change in environment (e.g. country, city, coast, neighborhood) can yield a great difference in how black people are viewed (for better or worse).

                      I don’t subscribe to the notion that “black on black love is undervalued” because in the US, black people tend to marry other black people at higher percentage than they do interracially. I DO think we need to do a better job or representing black love – and just black people in general – in a multiplicity of ways in the media. Sadly, too many of the same negative stereotypes from the inception of TV and cinema, and the inclusion of AA therein, are still prevalent today.

                      “Some people need ambitious folk. I’m ambitious enough for the two of us.”

                      Hmmm…would you have a problem if your partner made more than you?

                    • cyanic

                      Fine with the financial dynamics going either way. Black on black love is a form of self-love and protection mentally from white supremacist conditioning.

                    • Blueberry01

                      True, I agree. I think that self love is intially introduced – and potentially altered – in one’s upbringing.

            • I can actually bridge the topic with some shenanigans.

              A couple of months Black, I was in the midst of my various…activities when I came across a group of brothers and sisters from Louisiana that used the named Rougarou. They were hardcore into the leather thing, but once I understood the background, I thought “oh…that’s kinda dope!”

              • brothaskeeper

                Go on.

            • LMNOP

              Well, I have a food question. Someone gave me some eggplants. Does anyone have any good eggplant recipes? I’m thinking of making Baba Ganoush, never had it before but it sounds good. Any other ideas?

              • Kas

                If you like goat cheese, I have one.

              • Blueberry01

                You can start simple with ratatouille.

        • Kas

          What or who is that?

    • Tambra

      About to get longer. The walking horror show has asked for women to come out and accuse your favourite President.

      • Val

        If there were any dirt on the President like that they would have found it 8 years ago. We all know they were looking.

        • Tambra

          Yeah, but you know his people like to dog whistles. I am seeing thing about Obama taking out his paynus on some flight being bandied about, but no context, so I am awaiting.

          • LMNOP

            There will be no context or credible witnesses. Can you even imagine this ever possibly having happened??

            I mean I would sooner believe that Donald Trump spent several years in the Peace Corps and seriously considered the priesthood, than that Obama did something like that.

            • Tambra

              At this stage the people voting for Trump will believe anything he says and will react to his every command.

              • LMNOP

                Yeah I saw something online about people believing Hilary Clinton has an identical body double, and other such nonsense. They were actually proud that they believed this all without proof. Very odd.

                • Tambra

                  The crap you are hearing reminds me of our elections from the 1950s, minus the chex part.
                  Going through hansards and news papers, I would chuckle at the crap that was spewed, but it is sad to realise that democracies can come to this.

            • Nik White

              Right! I read and watched all types of Stephen King books…watched Sir Graves Ghastley during the day…loved the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Zombieland…never thought to add academia into the mix.

              • Tambra

                Stephen King. I used to devour his books. The one which stood out for me was the Dark Half, evil psycho twin who was devoured in utero but coming back as a killer. That book had be afraid to turn the next page, but not wanting to cast it aside.

                • Kas

                  Stephen King’s short stories are the best. So effing disturbing. Dat man got issues.

                  • Tambra

                    Have not really delved into his short stories. I have so much reading to catch up on it is a sin.

                  • Damn near started the scary clown genre with Pennywise?, Pennywhistle? Whatever.
                    …from the movie “It”

                    • Tambra

                      Pennywise. It was aite. Movie was poor though; a lot of the movie adaptations of his books have not been good.

                    • LMNOP

                      Shawshank redemption was good.

                    • Tambra

                      Yeah. It was. But the horror ones have not been good adaptations with probably the exception of Pet Semetary.

                    • LMNOP

                      I saw “It” as a kid and really never had the desire to watch another horror movie in my entire life.

                    • Tambra

                      I must agree that Stephen Kings plays on the pysche , but I was not scared by It. Maybe I need to rewatch.

                    • Mary Burrell

                      The Shining with Jack Nicholson and Salems Lot was fun. The Stand was good.

                    • Tambra

                      I was disappointed withe Salem’s Lot the movie, The Shining move was great. But love all the books you mentioned.

                    • Mary Burrell

                      Well i feel I have found a few kindred spirits who share my love for all things that go bump in the night.

                    • Tambra

                      Yes you do.

                • Mary Burrell

                  All of Stephen King and Dean Koontz. I think I read where they will be doing a television or movie of The Dark Tower and Idris Alba will play the gunslinger.

        • All witnesses in surrounding countries has been killed, lol

        • brothaskeeper

          With a microscope attached to a telescope.

          • Blueberry01

            …with GPS capabilities…

      • Janelle Doe

        Q: at this stage in the campaign shouldn’t we be able to compare platforms and policies? why is it still about emails and then mostly about pageants and locker rooms? If this was written as a script for a show I am not sure wit would have gone anywhere but comedy central.
        Instead it seems like we are watching a hybrid episode of Scandal and Veep in real life.
        And then as if that was bot enough I an hearing that Trump supporters are protesting with their open carry weapons outside Dem campaign offices .
        Q2: what is happening here

        • Tambra

          You should be able to, but since this is not an ordinary election, policies have gone out the window. I am not an American, but a similar trend has been happening in my region, where it is all about what is salacious and defending your party to the core. In my opinion, it is the social media effect. Moreover people are just lazy, and most people do not want to be bogged down with policy,even though they cry that the other side has no policy. Instead people want to be fed a couple of trigger issues, and then lots of fluff and they are happy without considering the consequences. Re: the open carry. Trump has been dogwhistling and his base has been responding. I saw a piece some time ago that says if the US were to have a civil war those who are republican will surely win primarily because they are more armed.

  • MsCee

    Fascinated by the term horror scholar..(Black women are really taking over for tha 99 and tha 2000) brings to mind Octavia Butler…even though her books are Science Fiction they still have a horror feel to them…also this book I read called Leslie by Omar Tyree…must read.

    • Mary Burrell

      I love Brandon Massey and Tananarive Due and the late L.A. Banks with her vampire series. May she rest in sweet peace.

      • PhlyyPhree

        I cried when I found out LA Banks passed. I just finished re-reading her series a few weeks ago (I read it every so often)

      • Sylqué

        Tananarive is my second cousin once removed. (I’m one of our family historians) I never even gave sci-fi a thought until I read the one she and her mother wrote about the Stephens’ sisters and their civil rights activism. After that I started reading all of her books. I have to say she opened my eyes because I never knew I could enjoy that genre so much.

    • HoneyRose

      Yeah, Octavia Butler is very firmly straddling that line between horror and sci-fi, I think. Also Nnedi Okorafor has some horror elements to some of her writing, too, even though it’s an interesting mix of sci-fi and fantasy rooted within African mysticism.

    • Blueberry01

      Yes, Omar Tyree! I used to live his books back in high school.

      Is Leslie a good read?

      • PhlyyPhree

        It is!!! It’s a littttle rough, but I like how he tried to mix (what was then) current pop culture with the mysticism and mythology of voodoo.
        I’d recommend it if you like his style of writing.

        • Blueberry01

          Voodoo? Phree, I ohon’t know bout dat, girl.

          I may DL an excerpt from Amazon just to give a taste test.

    • PhlyyPhree

      I loved Leslie.
      Well, I love Omar Tyree so I read ALL of his books and I thought Leslie was…interesting. I see where he tried to go with it, but I think he was a bit too urban and needed to do something else to flesh it out just a little bit, but I did still love the book.

  • If I had KNOWN you could become a horror scholar! #DamnItMan!

  • KeyBrad

    I’m in love with this post. I cant wait to go home and read the references.

  • brothaskeeper

    Fantastic article! I love to see an educator have so much autonomy, and that inspires me. I’ve always wanted to teach a course on Hispanic American history or comic book art.

    (I wonder how many times she’s heard that her classroom is to the left to the left.)

    • cyanic

      You’re Afro-Latino?

      • brothaskeeper

        I’m mixed. I’m part Black, part African-American, and part Negro. I’m a Spanish teacher, though. Studying Spanish culture, I’ve seen a lot of similarities between it and Black culture. It’s different but the same, and in some places, they intertwine.

        • Val
          • kingpinenut

            Val we eye2eye

            +50-11

            • Blueberry01

              What does 50-11 mean?

              • kingpinenut

                50-11 == a whole lotta something. In this case agreement ;)

                I used to hear the old folks say it all the time . . .

                • Blueberry01

                  Oh, I’m here like 50 – 11 = 39. Then, 3 + 9 = 12, and 12 Years a Slave = White People! LOL!

                  Thanks, I’ve never heard that one before.

                  • kingpinenut

                    See that’s how smart folks do…y’all do MATH!

                    I do likes that equation i must say.

                    Old folks are a wealth of knowledge and wisdom

                    • Blueberry01

                      :curtsies:

              • LMNOP

                Say the numbers in your head, “fifty-eleven”

                • Blueberry01

                  Fif-tee-ee-lev-en

                  Fif-tee-dash-eee-lev-en

                  Girl, I still don’t get it. Tell me, please ?

                  • LMNOP

                    fiftyleven, it just a dramatically big number.

                    • Blueberry01

                      Oh okay. I see.

        • cyanic

          Will step in something taboo. But I’ve always felt Latinos mix the best with us. Afro-Latinos have a very complimentary appearance to me. It’s taboo because we’re not suppose to glorify nor fetishize black persons of mixed heritage as somehow more attractive than the standard black on black model.

          • brothaskeeper

            Yes, we do misegenate well (that sounds so wrong…lol), but we all know that beauty can develop from any (human) type of co-mingling.

            • cyanic

              Yes. But as a group we have it worse than other nonwhite groups when it comes to melding our features with someone else’s and getting excited for the final product. We distance ourselves psychologically from Afro-aesthetics.

              • brothaskeeper

                I think that speaks to deep-seated psychological issues, and that’s another post for another time. I don’t think distancing takes place as a whole, though.

              • Blueberry01

                Did you say, “getting excited for the final product”? Are you trying to make a baby with certain types of features?

                Also, the Afro-aesthetics that we’ve been taught to hate are very much so adored by other cultures – including our YT oppressors.

                • cyanic

                  Not having children. Same gender loving and won’t do the other stuff to make a baby. I want an adult life with a nicely decorated home. Other cultures either appropriate or fetishize our aesthetics.

                  • Blueberry01

                    So, what “product” are you “getting excited by” if you’re not intending to have children? Or, did you want to have children, but no longer do so?

                    Although, I do believe that fetishism and cultural appropriation (or just downright lack of acknowledgment) exists, I would not dare generalize and state that everyone does this.

                    Plus, I do know interracial/interracultural couples that (I believe) exemplify genuine, unadulterated love and adoration for their SO or spouse.

                    • cyanic

                      We’re human. Some mixed couples are together purely on their commonalities and not seduced by the otherness of their partner. The final product are persons of mixed couplings. Those who standout to us because they seem uncommon and somewhat diluted in their afro-centric features. Color, hair texture/length etc.

                    • Blueberry01

                      No, I understand what the product IS, but I don’t know what it REPRESENTS to you since you stated you were not interested in having children.

                      “Those who standout to us because they seem uncommon and somewhat diluted in their afro-centric features. Color, hair texture/length etc.”

                      Just to let you know that the stereotypical Afro-centric features (e.g. broad nose, big lips), which I believe you are alluding to, and were mainly taught in this country are not represented in all Africans. Heck, there are certain African countries that have a stark difference between the inhabitants of the northern part of the country and those in the southern part.

        • PDL – Cape Girl Shero

          Sooo you’re mixed huh? Mixed with your mama and daddy. Tee hee hee

        • Tambra

          You are such an idiot. Now where did these various parts originate from?

        • Asiyah

          So much of our Latinx and Hispanic culture comes from Black culture. I’ve found that Latinx, Black, and Middle Eastern cultures share a lot of similarities, which makes sense considering how people mixed for hundreds of years. I find a kinship with Black American culture while also acknowledging how we’re different.

        • LMNOP

          Do you teach high school?

          • brothaskeeper

            Yes. Some overgrown 8-year-olds, but I love them to pieces.

            • LMNOP

              Aw, I can relate. I teach preschool, got bit twice today, scratched, hit, and kicked, but I still love those little guys.

              • brothaskeeper

                You must know how to pinch without bruising, then.

                • LMNOP

                  We’re videotaped lol, so no.

                  • Nik White

                    God bless you.

                • Kas

                  Thumps to the head leave no marks . . . so I hear

                  • brothaskeeper

                    Someone told me the same thing.

                  • Blueberry01

                    Your mush game is on point, I see.

              • Tambra

                I admire pre school and Kindergarten teachers. I do not know how you make it. Secondary school was bad enough. I just can’t see myself in those two settings.

                • LMNOP

                  It’s definitely not for everyone lol, I really enjoy little kids though, they are so cute and hilarious.

              • Blueberry01

                Awww….

            • Blueberry01

              Has someone ever thought that you couldn’t speak or understand Spanish talked about you in Spanish?

              • brothaskeeper

                No, but back in the day when I would go to Mexican restaurants, I’d hear some of the waitstaff talk ish about some of the patrons. They’ve gotten more hip and realized that more and more people understand a little bit of español .

                • Blueberry01

                  That’s real talk. My Vietnamese has improved exponentially from going to the nail salon for that same reason!

        • Come to New York sometime. Any university within 50 miles of Times Square will have some sort of class about the crossovers. It dates back to arrival of the Boricuas in NY in the 20s, and how racist Whites stuck them in Black neighborhoods because of their skin color. Once we became neighbors, people put two and two together. My alma mater has a whole department that just deals with that stuff.

          • brothaskeeper

            That’s something I could sink my teeth into. After Christmas (and after Big Kahuna Burger dominates FFL), The BK’s will venture up there and indulge. It’s interesting to see that Hispanic people share the same sort of idiosyncrasies as Black people as far as colorism, sexuality, spirituality, community, etc.

        • Mary Burrell

          Spanish/Latin culture and spirituality and folklore are fascinating to me.

        • Nik White

          Like I’m bilingual…Ebonics and the Kangs English.

          • Kas

            I believe it’s spelled Cing. :)

            • Nik White

              You’ve never heard my grandmother say it…it’s like the Bible – Kang James.

              • Kas

                I was just joking with you. My “c” was intentional.

        • Tambra

          Used to be able to speak Spanish. Haven’t done so for almost 10 years, but I still understand most of it.

        • Nik White

          When I lived in CT, someone ask where I was from and when I replied, “Michigan”, they said, ‘no before that” (like which country). I might give myself genetic testing as a Chrismas gift.

          • kingpinenut

            Everybody should run they DNA. It is life changing.

        • Blueberry01

          Lol @ your racial breakdown!

    • Blueberry01

      The comic book art class sounds so dope! I’m not even a comic book head, but I’d want to take that class.

  • mchester

    She’s the homie for real! I love Dr. Jallow.

  • Black Women + Horror chops = I’m in love.
    Vamp, what a campy classic!
    The only thing I didn’t agree with was the garish makeup. Grace didn’t need any to be a vampire. She had such a crazy presence, she didn’t have to say a word.

    • cyanic

      The blue contacts she wore certainly made an other worldly impression of her.

      • Talk about impressions – I first saw Grace Jones in New York, at this crazy underground club . On the.outside, it looked like a warehouse, but on the inside – colored floodlights, strobes, the whole nine. Never mind the place was painted in faux marble like a mausoleum, columns, everything. Around 1 am. Grace was supposed to come out, folk getting restless. All of a sudden -music started bumpin HARD, strobes even harder. When the strobes stopped, nobody saw her come out, but Grace was standing in the middle of the dance floor, nothing but faux marble paint from head to toe. ( nothing but paint.)
        Good times.

        • cyanic

          You got the authentic Jones experience. Born in ’82 my earliest movie memory is from ’85. Where my family and I saw A View to a Kill at the drive-in. I went to sleep on the movie and woke up to Grace exploding to her death. I cried. Because despite being scared of her I loved her. Grateful to Eddie Murphy for making sure to stuff his ensembles with living legends giving them material to play off their iconic persona.

          • Lol, I’m talking about disco era too.

            • cyanic

              Assumed you were a little kid back then. Can’t imagine a straight black brotha in a disco waiting for Grace Jones to grace your presence with her form of sensationalized kink!

              • I was part of a Philly roller skating squad back in the day, and we snuck in. I was a tad young. Our DJ was a bouncer for the gig.

                • cyanic

                  Do you have a favorite Grace record?

                  • Not really. Back then, “Bumper” was the shot, but whatever you skated to was “the jam” . Also we didn’t have any respect for capturing the moment, as in favorite this, favorite that. We didnt even have a mind to take a picture or anything. Even in high school, I went overseas, never even took a photo. I regret all of that now.

                    • cyanic

                      You traveled abroad with your skating crew?

                    • Not at all. I was young and bored. So when I could, I would disappear and take off for places I was curious about, and since I also painted, I would do canvases of every where. I went.
                      A while back I posted some of my exploits on here.
                      My dream is to sketch the pyramids in person.

                    • cyanic

                      Not courageous nor audacious to do what you just described. Freely traveling to wherever you please. Where were your parents?

                    • I haven’t lived at home since I was 17

                    • cyanic

                      How were you able to support yourself then?

                    • Towards the end of school, I drove.
                      (This feels like an interview in itself)

                    • cyanic

                      You’re the one who shared an interesting tidbit about being in the same room as Grace Jones during the disco era.

                    • True.
                      Its just that something here always sparks a memory for me every now and then. I had an insane amount of adventures. I just don’t think some of them fit in here, lol.

                    • cyanic

                      Since you’re an artist, is any of your work consciously autobiographical?

                    • Define.

                    • cyanic

                      You created something generated by a personal experience.

                    • Ahhh, no , not really. I was just taught (by my mom) to draw what I see, no matter how long it took or hard it was. I could draw, paint, airbrush anything.

                    • cyanic

                      Your inspirations are outside of you? When you’re in photographer mode, are you aiming to capture the best looking version of the subject you can manage? Sorry for the questions.

                    • Sometimes, the subject is fleeting, and I have to capture a “moment”. A lot of what I do and sell is street photography. The stuff I decide won’t sell, I post in a blog.
                      Should I get hired to do a gig, I may take 400 just to get 200.

                    • cyanic

                      Do you take on graphic design assignments? Like poster art or book covers.

                    • Tried it. No real profit in it for me. The digital versions sucked all the joy out of it for me as well. Wasn’t “tangible” enough.
                      Side note: Got tossed out of a Salvador Dali exhibit because I got caught touching the brush strokes on a painting, lol.

                    • cyanic

                      Did they think you were being weird or attempting to deface the art? I realize it’s policy for guests not touch the artwork.

                    • They said oils from fingertips on peices that old could deteriorate the works. They say flash photography does the same thing, although it’s only true to a degree.
                      All I wanted to do was feel the actual strokes of a painting i’ve only seen in books, and say that I did.

                    • kingpinenut

                      I know somebody that licked a Van Gogh – he shall remain nameless

                    • LMNOP

                      Ew

                    • kingpinenut

                      That’s the expression my face made when I heard him say it.

                    • Oooo – k

                    • LMNOP

                      Next time you feel the urge to touch a famous painting, you can say “at least I didn’t lick it.”

                    • Somehow, I think that response would get me a free ride to the psych ward.

                    • kingpinenut

                      I was pretty shocked when he told me . . .

                      He a white dude so I just kept it moving.

                    • LMNOP

                      @disqus_kCxHWb1uCU:disqus This was actually a really interesting interview.

                    • Ummm….thanks?
                      Lol

                    • NonyaB?

                      I enjoyed reading/watching this unfurl convo too.

                    • Blueberry01

                      Thanks for opening up to us, Pop. I learned a lot about you. ?

                    • MsSula

                      We can have a feature: Cyanic interviews a VSB regular!! That can tide us over until Ask Agatha comes back. loll.

                    • Blueberry01

                      Cy, are you into photography, too?

                    • cyanic

                      I’m into creativity. I like visual arts because I’m a movie person. I wanted to become a film director because I wanted to control the visual image. Later found out the cinematographer was responsible for the look of a movie. And when I found out what their responsibilities were I just wanted to direct.

                    • Blueberry01

                      Pop, you have cool stories! Don’t be shy!

                    • What else you wanna know?
                      :)

                    • Blueberry01

                      Hmmm…Tell me about the best and worst experience that you had with your skate crew. Also, what did you call y’all selves?

                    • Back then, you got called by the name of your rink, if you traveled to another rink. Best time, backwards skate trophy and 500 bucks. Worse? can’t think of one.

                    • Blueberry01

                      So, what was your name?

                      I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted to learn how to skate backwards, without having someone hold my hands. But it never happened.

                      #DreamDeferred

                    • Blueberry01

                      I think he means before 17.

                • Janelle Doe

                  …a movie or series based on this would be something I’d watch. All this time I thought roller skating/blading was for Drew Barrymore et al.

                  • Janelle Doe

                    plus Grace Jones is (one of) my spirit animals/people…

                  • Blading?..blasphemy.
                    We laughed at dudes with blades.

                  • Blueberry01

                    Roller skating was the epitome of black coolness, we’ll at least in the mid-Atlantic and south. Have you seen ATL?

            • Blueberry01

              I overheard this old man on the train say that the drugs out now are watered down. He said that these little teeny boppers couldn’t handle the pure grade ish that had out in 70s and 80s. Lol!

            • Nik White

              I would luv to have been able to hang out with him and Basquet.

          • Blueberry01

            Cool story, Cy. But wow, you have memories from when you were three? And vivid ones?

            Or, did a family member retell this story?

            • cyanic

              No I remember. Certain things are logged in my memory without me knowing I was this old when it happened.

              • Blueberry01

                Interesting. Due to our brain development, there is research that suggests that our earliest dreams that we can recall start around age five.

                Anything earlier than that usually is not as vivid as you described it, and/or often times refers to snapshots of traumatic experiences in our early childhood.

                • cyanic

                  I suppose seeing her character die was upsetting to me. I wouldn’t go so far and say it was traumatic.

                  • Blueberry01

                    Death to a toddler could be interpreted as traumatic. Adults are viewed as their source of sustenance and one of the first consistent, recognizable figures in their lives.

                    • cyanic

                      I think I understood movies were make-believe . Maybe? Since I did bawl on An American Tail when Fievel was separate from his poppa.

                    • Blueberry01

                      At its core, a toddler would know if something wasn’t real or something were a “story”; however, the emotional impact of death, separation, or any negative experience still remains.

                      The latter is true for any person at any age. The only difference is that as we grow, we (should) develop healthy cognitive mechanisms to process and cope with unpleasant experiences. Toddlers often don’t have an “extensive emotional toolbox” in order to do so.

        • Nik White

          I received her memoir as one of my b-day gifts and throughly enjoyed it. I would have looked to hang out with her in the late ’80s. The closest I got was during the Boomarang screening in Brooklyn.

          • She merely walked (or glided – I can’t remember) and she was intimidating. Damn near scary. It was hard to look her in the eye. I can’t imagine partying with her. And at about 70, she still hasn’t missed a beat.

            • Mary Burrell

              She looks great I always thought she had beautiful features.

        • Mary Burrell

          I hope Lady Gaga knows she’s not doing anything original she is standing on Grace Jones shoulders.

          • Absofreekinlutely.

            • Mary Burrell

              I always admired how confident she was just making her art and not playing it safe.

    • Mary Burrell

      I love Grace Jones she still looks great today and she’s in her 60’s.

  • Hugh Akston

    nice

  • LMNOP

    I have read so many things that are my favorite thing I have ever read on VSB, but today this is definitely my favorite thing I’ve ever read here!

    “I am most interested in how black women take folklore and syncretic religious practices (so spiritual practices that mix West African religion with Christianity) in their creative fiction and use it as a place of power and subversion against the horror genre and classic readings of black women’s literature.”

    I am not even 100% sure I understand this sentence, but I love it. And I am a non-horror watching scaredy cat like PJ, but all of this sounds SO interesting to me, and you have a really cool job. Thanks for telling us about it!

    • Tambra

      I squealed when she mentioned the soucouyant. It was one of those thing we grew up with that was to scare us into being good. Interesting story, my uncle lived right next to me, so one more got up and saw him rehanging his front door. Where I grew up public transport was not a big thing and you had long stretched of roads to walk if you do not own a vehicle. So this woman went to the movies was coming home late and claimed a rounce , which is a ghost which takes the form of ball of fire, had chased her as she was walking home. So fright and andrenaline caused her to run into my uncles yard and pulled off his front door in order to escape the rounce. True story. I had a good laugh.

      • LMNOP

        Haha, that’s pretty funny.

        I love this kind of magic that is in everyday life and people say “oh it’s just stories, it’s not true.” But it’s really just another kind of true.

        • Tambra

          Up until today that woman would swear that a rounce chased her that night.

          • We sure have an amazing history as a people, don’t we?

    • Coco

      I loved it when she said “I tell my students and my friends, black women are going to be denigrated no matter what you choose. You might as well be yourself and be happy”

      • Tomesha Rene

        This! I about stood up and started clapping in my office.

        • Candice

          Amen to that. This is why we shouldn’t be fighting amongst each other. We already have a lot against us as a race and gender.

  • Val

    Well, here’s something I just found on fb from Shaun King. This happened in Edina, Minnesota yesterday.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bGMrMRe28w

    • This mAkes me angry.

      • Kas

        So very, very angry

    • Kas

      Since when is a traffic offense cause for arrest?

      • LMNOP

        This guy seemed to be WALKING too, so no traffic offense.

        • Kas

          Jay walking I believe is considered a traffic offense. I could be wrong though. I realize he was just walking. I said traffic offense since the issue was that he wasn’t walking on the sidewalk. Begs, the question why he could have just been instructed to do so.

          • Shid.
            An offense about 40 yrs ago!

            • Kas

              L.A. is still serious about handing out tickets for jay walking.

              • The streets would be littered with bodies if that was true here.

          • LMNOP

            Oh okay, makes sense. And yeah that white lady kept asking “why don’t you just tell him where to walk?” That kind of escalation for something like that is so crazy. Literally that cop was going around looking to start something and pick a fight.

            • Kas

              The guy didn’t knuckle under, so he got arrested. The problem is that police act as if not acting like sheeple is cause for arrest.

              • Sure wish I could see a follow up

              • Blueberry01

                Facts! Nothing to do with enforcing the law, but everything to do with subconsciously resolving your pain of adolescence.

          • Blueberry01

            It is, but they rarely enforce it (in NYC) because 99% do it everyday in every borough.

            But this case, wouldn’t be considered jaywalking.

          • Mochasister

            It is. I knew kids in high school who got tickets for jaywalking in Redlands.

    • LMNOP

      What in the entire fuck??

    • Val

      The sidewalk was closed so dude walked into the street to get around it. If the hog wanted to give him a ticket then that would have been petty but just do it. Why was he putting his hands on him? Our bodies do not belong to the police.

      • LMNOP

        The sidewalk was CLOSED? wtf was he supposed to do? Fly?

        • Val

          Exactly. That’s why this was so crazy.

        • Janelle Doe

          (sadly if he could he’d have been arrested for that too.)

        • Then they would have said he “resembles a duck. Shoot him.”

        • Blueberry01

          Duh, LMNOP. You don’t pack your extra set of wings when you walk down the street? ?

          • Kas

            I do

            • Blueberry01

              Lol.

      • Val got my nostrils all flared and ish. We were about to have fun down thread.

        • Val

          Sorry, Atzee, but I thought folks needed to see this fascist craziness.

          • kingpinenut

            The USA ain’t shid….i been sayin this for years.

          • I can dig it. Since the onset of so many brothers dying of police “lead poisoning”, so many other injustices have been manifesting themselves, that I otherwise would have glossed over – even at my workplace.
            Had me questioning how I got a title so fast at one point. Had a bruh feeling like a scapegoat surrounded by all the whiteness.
            I guess you could say VSB “woke me up”.

      • kingpinenut

        Edit: Alive or dead – we tax revenue….believe that…

        • Val

          Yeah, they showed that to be true when they investigated the city of Ferguson and its police.

      • LMNOP

        And that’s all he was asking too, was for the cop to take his hands off him.

    • cyanic

      Couldn’t even finish the video. Not sure why I even started. Whitey ain’t shyt.

    • Blueberry01

      Love you girl, but I ain’t watching this ish.

      I just can’t.

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