Introductions/Big Ideas/Goals for Black space making.

The working goals of this workshop are as follows:

  1. To showcase text from Black digitals/storytelling as a way to center Black voices (of those both in/outside the academy) in the classroom.
  2. To expand and remix notions of classroom: theory and practice through intentional media use that breaks monolithic tropes and centers nuance representations of identity, culture, and media.
  3. To discuss the concept of Blackademics as a way to decenter the white gaze in theory and practice (aka disrupting “respectability politics” to learn from Black students/faculty/artist in the classroom and beyond, as we are!)
  4. Ground the personal as political, Black queer futurity, and Black joy as critical practice (aka elements of Black dimentionality) as methods for creating knowledge production that embraces a multiplicity of cultural production in our teaching, research, and digital media use.

Note: skim before we have our zoom session today, Wednesday @3PM EST (zoom link for session registration:

*******Google Drive Link: HERE!******

Note: There is a public google drive folder where related readings and other materials mentioned in my blog posts will be uploaded. Engage with those on your own time and use the discussion board to share questions/comments/insights to the featured text. Be creative!

A Note on Safe Space vs Brave Space: Per one of our prompts I posted in our discussion board (if you have not contributed please do!) I am posting this link to an article, safe space vs brave space, (Arao and Clemens, 2013) that I have used in the early half of my time with students (whether it be a semester course or workshop). It's not to give them a binary or linear definition of safe space/brave space (because that looks different depending on who we are and where we are), but it is more so to get us thinking about our agency to transform and re-imagine the classroom, whether it be through incorporating digital pedagogy to make our knowledge production more accessible, creative, and fluid or to and engage in community to set "ground rules" for the space we want to cultivate together. Check out the article and reflect on what it inspires in you, in terms of your own theory and practice.

This has helped with discussing big concepts like invisible labor among Black women and PoC students who are often called on in the classroom to "speak to the Black experience", or interrupted and overlooked for the ways they and their bodies do not conform or code-switch to typical higher ed/educational spaces. It is important to give students agency and space (both in the digital and physical sence) through discussions, art making, and theorizing that interrogates some of the myths of "safe space". In particular for Black and other marginalized students [as we know higher ed is not often as "safe" or "diverse and inclusive" as it markets itself to be for professors, students, and staff who look like me]. Students are aware of these dynamics and the ways in which diversity and multiculturalism is often rooted in celebration and marketing but not policy and culture change.  I have found some beautiful dialogue happens when you engage in sharing truths together to connect "safe space" theorizing to "brave space" practice, aka what does this actually look like? How do we cultivate it? How do we embrace the different ways we learn, make, and discuss? Also in connection to digital pedagogy discussions on creating and re-imaging space together, how can we make room for students to bring in their every day experiences, cultural practices, and ways of being, and see that as worthy of being learned from? All of this it to help you challenge and drive foward course material that has connections to our real lives, and the ways we who are is connected to how we make and produce knowledge.


"In most novels written by Negros until today...there is a great space where sex outght to be; and what usually fills this space is violance...The violance is gratutous and compulsive because the root of the violance is never examined. The root is rage. It is the rage, almost literally the howl, of a man who is being castrated.

-James Baldwin, "Alas, Poor Richard," in Collected Essays, ed. Toni Morrison (New York: Library of America, 1998).

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket - The Film - Education ...
James Baldwin is dope. Forever and always. 

In much of my scholarship I am very much interested in what more can be learned from Black life when we center the multi-dimentionalities of our identity (Black knowledge production rooted in our experiences). Although Baldwin is speaking more about the erotic above, his words lend great inspiration to the ways I engage with Black digitals, local media making, and critical film studies/performance to circumzent or disrupt monoliphic tropes about Black folks and center experiences rooted in joy rather than trauma (which the academy at large does contribute to a great deal of truama and surpressing Black bodies). While I am not interested in erasue of our experiences as it relates to state-santioned violance and threats to our every day humanity, I recognize that my work is also to imagine otherwise (inspired by Kara Keeling's Queer Times, Black Futures, 2019) and use my postionaility as a scholar and community member to create knowledge portals that access the ways every day Black experiences, from the ways we create, thrive, and produce joy amidst state threat is too, worthy of being learned from!

I am grateful for the interest in this talk! I started using the term Blackademic to identify the portions of my work as a scholar that I feel are doing something else in the academy, calling for something more when we engage with Black studies, critical race, and media representations of people. Inspired by what Kara Keeling terms as “imaging otherwise” I too find my body in this space (academia) as a Black queer male, motivated to use my identity and the intersectionalities I operate every day, to push disciplinary norms and think about what can be learned from studying Black stories in ways that reject the white gaze. This is where a lot of my engagement with digital pedeogy comes into the classroom:

What I have done for this workshop/creative space that we’ll share while the world is shifting more than I could have ever expected in one year) is a mess of things.  Intentional mess (!) all centered around the concept of knowledge making from the margins, and personal as political, and digital humanities/pedegogy, all components that I see as key elements of Blackademic knowledge making.  I wanted to resist the need to be “organized”, “rigorous”, or linear because I think there are not many spaces within academic institutions where we embrace work that is guided by our own personal Black vanaculuar voice (in my case), and resist code-switching when we can! For Black/Poc particiaptns in this session,  I encourage you to enter a "brave space" with me where we are open, honest, and unaplogetic about the gaps we feel in our profession, our classrooms, or the key texts we use and how we can collaborate to fill our courses with intentional focus on filling these gaps. I like to think about ways to use the classroom as a space where learning is constantly exchange,  and were critical reflection (from all of us) is used as creative material to produce new pedegogy lead to better world-making.

~ Read next post in Blackademics: (Remixing) Scholarship and Digital World-Making ~

Black Digital Pedagogy Wall

Posted by Chaz Antoine Barracks

1 min read