All My N*ggas is Casket Pretty: Projects of Sustainability for Black Folks

Student: Sharah “Georgia” Hutson
Major: Philosophy
Advisor: Evan Riley

Calvin Warren holds the notion that “anti-black violence continues without end and can never be overcome.” As I stand in agreement with Warren’s assertion, I use it as the catalyst 1 that has pushed me into taking on the project of investigating the manners in which Black bodies are able to sustain themselves in a world in which anti-blackness is a global commodity. I argue that it is through multifarious modes of performance that queer Black bodies (for this project, all Black folks are to be understood as queer figures) are able to sustain a future for themselves, while using these various mediums as a means of resistance that “resists death, slavery, infamy, and shame.” Within my project, I will be engaging with queering blackness, the 2 importance of coalition building, and projects of Black futurity that extend beyond afrofuturism. Even though using these various modes of performance is not able to annihilate the anti-blackness that Black bodies encounter, it can still serve as a tool to be utilized when these bodies are constructing projects of futurity. In the first chapter, I will discuss the limits of queer theory, the birth of quare theory, and provide examples of what happpens when queerness is reconcepted. The second chapter concerns itself with queering blackness, argues against essentializing blackness, and will be rooted in a definition of blackness that is malleable. Chapter three will speak towards art as a form of resistance to anti-blackness, the importance of kinship within communal spaces, the radical potential of queer politics, and bring in queer of color scholarship on performance theory. Through my encounters with queer theory throughout my four years at the College of Wooster, I have come to the understanding that often times queer theory tends to be inaccessible to readers due to the jargon and academic language that is being used to write the texts. As a way to call upon those who have asserted that a scholar’s work is not radical if it is not accessible, I will be creating a zine as a form of visual culture that explains the theories, ideas, and texts that have been embedded into my project.

Georgia will be online to field comments on May 8:
Noon-2pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

42 thoughts on “All My N*ggas is Casket Pretty: Projects of Sustainability for Black Folks”

  1. Awesome work, Sharah! I look forward to reading it more carefully but I am impressed by the way in which you push against the limits of queer theory, introduce new terms and concepts, and theorize creatively about a sustainable Black futurity. Wishing you the best in your future endeavors!

    1. Hello Dr. García! I am so happy to have you virtually here. Thank you so much for looking through the PowerPoint presentation. I would love to chat with you about other aspects of the project that I was not able to showcase within the presentation. I hope that you are doing well and I hope to see you on campus soon!

  2. This is such important work and publishing that you are doing, Sharah! I really hope you will take this I.S. project and share it beyond, as there are many students, parents, professional and more who want to learn more about queer jargon and language, especially as it relates to race. I’d encourage you to reach out to the Gender Education DeMystification Symposium to see if you can present at their conference next winter—this would be a fantastic topic! You can find them at gemsconference.org Keep up the great work and best of luck to you!!

    1. Hello! Thank you so much for popping in!

      And that you for being another wonderful member of our vibrant community.

  3. Such interesting work – thank you for sharing it.
    I love the idea of the zine, making challenging ideas accessible and inviting. Best wishes to you!

    1. Hello Julia! Thank you so much for virtually popping into my presentation. I am not sure when I will be able to create the zine due to me not being near the materials that I use to create zines (my art supplies are currently on campus). I want to make a zine for this project due to my concern with making academia accessible to all who are coming into contact with it. I would never want to ask someone to sit down and read a document that is over 100 pages long when I could easily create graphics, podcast episodes, and other forms of media that present the information in a more accessible manner. I also want to assert that I do not believe that zines are the most accessible form of sharing knowledge, but I do believe that they are a step in the right direction. Zines can be mass-produced, translated into other languages, uploaded online, can use images to convey complicated ideas, and many other things. Even though zines are able to take on that work, they still can be inaccessible to certain folks!

  4. You continue to inspire me and everyone around you with your thoughtful questions and deep insights. It’s clear how hard you worked on this project, and I’m so happy I was able to see you present in person. I know you’re going to continue doing amazing work, much love!

    1. Hello Ellie!

      I am so happy that I was able to have two classes with you as we both worked through what we wanted to tackle for I.S. Thank you so much for coming to my roundtable and for always being so supportive. I am so proud of you and can’t wait to hear about all of the wonderful things that you will do.

      P.S. I am so excited to see your presentation this evening!

  5. Always impressed by you. Just wishing I could see you present this in person because I capital-L LOVED your roundtable… you are such an engaging presenter! Thank you for sharing all of your hard work with us, and thank you for being my friend.

    1. Hello Laney,

      You are the sweetest! Thank you for all of your affirmations, friendship, and support throughout the past three years of us knowing each other. I am excited to share the zine with you and our other sweet friends.

  6. This is incredible! One of my favorite aspects of your creation is the acknowledgement of the gatekeeping within queer theory. I really enjoy that you introduced the fact that queer theory is often intellectualized and only accessible through these hierarchies of literacy that are sustained through institutional constructs. We shouldn’t need a degree from an institution in order to understand the nuances of blackness and queerness! I love the ways that you made your presentation accessible and informative. This is something everyone should see! p.s. I love the noname reference:).

  7. Dear Ms. Hutson,

    Fascinating project. I was especially caught by your quote from Calvin Warren, “anti-black violence continues without end and can never be overcome.” As I frequently despair, can America’s race crucible ever be overcome? As a member of the LGBTQ community, over the years, I have been appalled by members of our community saying, “I am not prejudiced or anything, BUT…” My hope is in your generation.

    Continue on!

  8. Sharah! Oh my goodness. If I was able to write with half the sincerity and fervor that you do, I’d be thrilled. I so enjoyed experiencing what you’ve put into this study, and would have loved to see your in-person presentation. Thank you for this body of work! Miss you.

  9. WOW!
    This is incredible work that you are doing here. It is so important and refreshing to see philosophy done in this way. Philosophy that challenges the norms, the ivory-tower, philosophy that is accessible to all, which you go so in depth in, is important and life changing. I appreciate you taking the time to dedicate a year to this project.
    Especially now with social distancing and quarantine, and a lot of the other horrible things going on in the world, when you consider Queer Time, I wonder what that implies for the experience BIPOC during this surreal moment in life. I would also be curious to hear your thoughts on essentialists when it comes to identity politics. Some find labels liberating in the way that they know who they are, while others are a part of this movement of queering which seems to completely be in opposition. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to call me anytime! (I love you and I am so proud of you!)

  10. Sharah: Since you have been on campus you have done much to create and hold space for so many important questions for us all. Thank you for sharing this work, and doing this work. Well done!

  11. I love you and I love this project so much!!! It makes me so happy to see the excerpts and pages from your anthology/zine in here. I agree with what others have said so far about how important this work is. You say it yourself: though artistic expression can’t eradicate anti-Blackness, it helps carve out a very necessary space where folks can feel heard and understood. And I love this a lot: “Artistic communal spaces that are committed to addressing anti-Blackness.” We absolutely need more communal creative spaces like this because of how healing they can be; it’s so special to create art together, and to do so in a space where folks can feel safe is extra important! I’m so so excited to see where this project takes you, excited to hold your zine in my hands, and to watch as you continue to carve out these creative, safe spaces for folks. You have always been so good at this, and it means the world to a lot of people! Thank you for sharing this project and for being you, my sweet one!!

  12. I love the idea of using a zine to communicate these ideas…sometimes it feels like scholars who do research to raise awareness completely ignore actually translating their work into something those groups can access. I’m grateful for the work you’ve done, and saddened that your light wont shine on this campus next semester. You are so so loved.

  13. Wow. Very insightful and thought-provoking on many levels; I can see your work being used in classrooms, LGBTQ+ community centers, and more to finally create intellectual room for POC to exist outside of queer white supremacy while still being in conversation with it. Excited to see your zine when it is finished and hope to read your full work (may want to use it in my class next fall). Hoping you google me and get in touch, very exciting and important work.

  14. You constantly amaze me with the ways you think through queer theory, accessibility, and epistemology. You approach your scholarship in a way that is engaging, honest, and careful. I am always learning from you. Thank you for sharing your project. I’m so proud of you and your big, beautiful brain.

  15. Sharah! What an amazing work of scholarly inquiry. I love that you’ve chosen a visual representation for your research. This choice pushes back against “traditional” modes of research to create space for the students who will come after you. Thank you for your hard work, creativity, and passion for the lives of Black folk.

  16. Beautiful work and truly challenging my way of learning/thinking which is so necessary! I cannot wait to see your zine! A huge congratulations to you and I hope you and your loved ones are able to stay safe and healthy during this time.

  17. Congrats! Incredible work and insight on these theories, especially in the work of defining within a scope of your work – but more broadly as well. In particular I appreciate your focus on projects of sustainability for black folx in conjunction with ideas of communal spaces. I am curious to learn more how the ethics of care impact these spaces, what do you think?

  18. I’m so impressed by your research, thank you for sharing your insights! I especially love your use of zines – you are incredibly talented.

  19. It is so cool to see how your passion for making zines has continued and developed since freshman year Intro to WGSS. Also! I love Noname and her lyrics fit in so well with this project. This really is such beautiful and thoughtful work.

  20. Congratulations on all you have done with this IS, Sharah! The interweaving of your theoretical analysis with the Zine provides a great sense of how you are thinking about both these important ideas and the ways of making them visible and accessible to many audiences. I really appreciate the opportunity to see some of your work, and the ways it notes the limitations of existing frameworks and poses possibilities for new ones. I wish you all the very best, and hope you engage in more work of this kind in the future!

  21. Sharah this is amazing! I’m really interested in the concept of cultural appropriation and wondering how your opinion on the “mainstream” (and in regards to race specifically- white people) and if you are worried about their inclusion/interest in this artform and communal space you argue for is dangerous? Do you think this communal space should be formed with all people in mind or is there a powerful value in keeping it for people directly related to the trauma that necessitates a safe-space like this? Hope this makes sense but again amazing work and really happy to have gotten to know you and been introduced to all your incredible ideas and experiences!

  22. Thank you for sharing your creative, vital project. I second Erin Cross’ opinion in that your IS and Zine would be engaging, relevant tools for the classroom, not only in philosophy but in communication studies, as well. Multiple audiences would benefit from learning about Blackness and anti-Blackness through these modes. Congratulations!

  23. Dear Sharah, thank you so much for sharing this tremendous caring, intellectual, and artistic work! As someone who studies the conversations between and among form, content, materiality, and practice, I was thrilled to see your project combining a deep examination of these things with the things themselves–studying and making, interrogating and performing, at the same time, on such an essential (and anti-essentializing) topic, theme, and theory. I see above you say your zine-making materials are on campus; what have you learned from being limited to (/unlimited by?) digital resources for this presentation and your other work during these strange times? Congratulations on this amazing project!!

  24. You have engaged me. Thanks for helping me focus my thoughts on Blackness. You speak clearly and I have learned from your project. As a cis-gendered straight Black male in his 50’s I applaud how you reach across and through time and space to decenter Whiteness.

  25. I love the statement of E. Patrick Johnson’s you quote: “‘Quare’ is to ‘queer’ as ‘reading’ is to ‘throwing shade.'” What a fascinating but accessible–given the widespread appropriation of queer black vernacular, of course–way to describe that difference. Your zine/anthology looks amazing and I’d love to read the whole thing. Congratulations on this vital work!

  26. I will miss your amazing presence in the Libraries. Seeing you always brightened up my day. Congratulations!

  27. I am very impressed by this project, and appreciate your commitment to making your work accessible. I look forward to reading your entire I.S. one day. Congratulations!

  28. This work is incredible and it’s an absolutely amazing idea to bridge the elitism gap through a zine, I would love to see it if you’re able to complete it. I used queer theory in my own IS a few years ago but in a much different context, so it’s exciting to see your queering of the theory itself!

    Your point in Chapter 2 about struggling to define Blackness without limiting it reminds me of Steve Biko’s writings about Black Consciousness. A lot of the topics you discuss seem thematically similar and it would be really interesting to look into how/if the commodification and fetishization of Black culture has affected what it means to identify as Black.

    As a member of the queer community you’ve given me a lot to think about and I appreciate the conversation that you’ve started. Congratulations on completing your IS!

  29. wow! What a heavy project. I came to your round table and know you’ve been working really hard, and at least in my opinion it really shows. Great work

  30. Sharah,
    Thank you so much for sharing your I.S. project! I have so enjoyed getting to know you and your work these past few years. I hope that you will continue to produce your zines and continue to share your thoughts and creative endeavors with the rest of the world.
    Best wishes as you move in to the next phase of your life!

  31. Yes! Please continue to work and think and publish that zine. So important!

  32. Sharah, Thank you for your presence in and impact on the department this past four years. Thank you for your challenges to me to do better. They are most deeply appreciated. Congratulations! on the completion of this I.S. Project and best wishes to you as you go onward.

  33. This is fantastic, Sharah. It is such a treat to see your project come to fruition after witnessing how passionate you were about it in “Doing Feminist Research.” Seeing your zine pages here brings back fond memories of the journal you kept in that class and Sara Ahmed’s inspiration for the Feminist Toolbox. Your work will be added to my toolbox for sure!

  34. Outstanding. You’re breaking chains––of exclusivity, of language, of movability, of imagination. It is the most important work. Thank you. You should be really proud of what you’ve accomplished.

  35. I don’t mean to be bias because I’m your grandmother but…..
    From the time you were 3 months old I noticed a spark in you that ordinarily might have been over looked. However fortunately for you and for me to be able to see that spark turn into much more.
    Your insight is captivating. I love how you went all out with this project and am so proud of your work and the responses you’ve received which shows how hard you’ve worked and how putting your all greatly paid off. Keep shining star!

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