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Decolonizing 'the angry Black woman': Black feminist theory and practice in...

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Birkbeck, University of London

Malet Street

Room B34

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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Lecture by Dr Shirley Tate.

"In this talk I equate anger with psychic institutional pain in UK universities as I attempt to decolonize the trope of ‘the angry Black woman’. I use pain here drawing from Audre Lorde’s (1980) The Cancer Journals as an analytic frame to explore how as Black women we cope with silencing and erasure within white feminism whilst maintaining personal and Black feminist community cohesiveness. Drawing from Toni Morrison’s (1992) Playing in the Dark, we can see that UK universities are locations of corporeal and epistemic marginalization/rebellion. As such, psychic institutional pain is developed through the analysis as both repressive and productive of Black feminist critique, politics and theory. Anger as psychic institutional pain can also be productive, agentic when we notice that it is rooted in responses to racist injustice. Showing the depth of Black feminist anger at intersectional racism through the Jamaican creole phrase ‘mi vex’ recognizes the source of vexation, of Black feminist anger-pain as affects emerging outside of the Black woman's body. This is an important aspect of decolonizing ‘the angry Black woman’ which is long overdue. ‘Mi vex’ also enables further decolonial work through its repetition as complaint and necessity for intersectional political action to continue to build Black feminist community. "

In this talk I equate anger with psychic institutional pain in UK universities as I attempt to decolonize the trope of ‘the angry Black woman’. I use pain here drawing from Audre Lorde’s (1980) The Cancer Journals as an analytic frame to explore how as Black women we cope with silencing and erasure within white feminism whilst maintaining personal and Black feminist community cohesiveness. Drawing from Toni Morrison’s (1992) Playing in the Dark, we can see that UK universities are locations of corporeal and epistemic marginalization/rebellion. As such, psychic institutional pain is developed through the analysis as both repressive and productive of Black feminist critique, politics and theory. Anger as psychic institutional pain can also be productive, agentic when we notice that it is rooted in responses to racist injustice. Showing the depth of Black feminist anger at intersectional racism through the Jamaican creole phrase ‘mi vex’ recognizes the source of vexation, of Black feminist anger-pain as affects emerging outside of the Black woman's body. This is an important aspect of decolonizing ‘the angry Black woman’ which is long overdue. ‘Mi vex’ also enables further decolonial work through its repetition as complaint and necessity for intersectional political action to continue to build Black feminist community.


Shirley Anne Tate is Professor of Race and Education at Leeds Beckett University, as well as Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice, University of the Free State, South Africa. Her recent books include: Skin bleaching in Black Atlantic zones: Shade shifters, Black women’s bodies and the nation: Race, gender and culture, Caribbean Racisms: Connections and complexities in the racialization of the Caribbean region (with Ian Law) and Creolizing Europe: Legacies and Transformations (co-edited with E. Gutierrez Rodriguez).

The Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London convenes an annual Summer Programme of interdisciplinary events spanning the field of psychosocial studies. The Programme provides current and prospective students, staff and the general public with an opportunity to attend lectures, seminars and conferences with distinguished speakers from the UK and abroad, and to meet with lecturers and current students on our many academic and clinical programmes.

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Birkbeck, University of London

Malet Street

Room B34

London

WC1E 7HX

United Kingdom

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