Friday, January 21, 2011

The Imperfect Womanist or To Hell With your Hegemony Crickets

I've always imagined that one day my fro would be just as big as Thelma's from Good Times and as coifed as Jermaine Jackson's when he married Hazel Gordy. The curl, whisp, and poof of it all made me feel like it was hair-extraordinaire. After several kicks and spoots, my current fro has managed a reasonable amount of puff that I can be proud of. My bourgie babe admires my hair everytime I get it "did" and always wants to join me at the beauty shop.

Noodle enters and eyes my stylist with her coy and precocious eyes and does not waste time to jump into a chair to see some type of magic happen to my head. Trusting your stylist is about a precarious predicament as trusting your doctor before you go into surgery. Such worries as "Will my hair look good?" or "Will these braids hurt too much?" run parallel to thoughts of certain death or disability on the operating table. I love the fact that I can sit with my stylist and talk about the circles we live in and still manage to come around to our common humanity: our pain, our love, our blessings, our struggles.

Perhaps I'm running out of sacred spaces to ponder my beauty and existence at the same time because I feel most comfortable away from the stuffiness of academe. I remember sitting in grad school surrounded by the painted over cinder block walls, conjuring up theoretical and literary spirits and sparring over who's approach was right. It gave me a lot to think about and has directed much of my thoughts from beyond the classroom and into the streets where many of my students come from. The ills of cultural hegemony and perverse linguistic significations have overwrought the younger generations' landscape. Homophobia has replaced homosocial associations. Girl power has given way to socially constructed and varying degrees of the whore.

I've become a bitter, academic fart. I've been living beyond the academic walls for 5 years now and working in the trenches. The disconnect from what we did in higher ed is evident in the limited outreach our colleges and universities are not doing in secondary education. I grow weary these days of folks on the patriarchal boogie train and feminists ranting about sex being no good if the man doesn't cry at the end. I'm a womanist who is quick to say "Hoe, sit down!" but woman enough to know I got a bit of mother wit and countriness to care about people.

I say it with love, though. Its kind of like when your grandmother or auntie would get onto you about not speaking when you came in and she'd make you feel hella bad, and then offer you teacakes and iced tea. Or when your stylist gets onto you about putting bad products in your hair, and now its a mess, and it will take an act of GOD himself to fix it...and yet, they manage to work out a miracle and talk you through your troubles as you sit in the styling chair. It makes us better people and that wisdom will eventually lend itself to show compassion with another.

I'd like to see more professors keep track of their academic progeny after they graduate (and not just the ass-kissing ones) and mentor them even if they don't get that Assistant Professor position at Yadda Yadda University. I'd like to see more academic conferences do more than just intellectual round-robins and get out into the community and see what the people have to say about their paper. I'd like to see a feminist just say ONCE that they appreciate a male writer despite his/her own beliefs of patriarchal thought (hell, it gives us something to talk about). Academe is dying a slow death because we have forgotten the people and communities that live in the shadows of our universities. The hoots and hollers of our hegemony crickets have fallen on deaf ears because we speak our own language that is exclusive and oppressive in itself.

Repression. Oppression. Patriarchy. Matriarchy. Sacred. Profane. Sign. Signified. We can talk it all day. But what is the solution to fix it? Our communities shouldn't have to lay dying in order to help them. All they need is to give a little whistle...then you must set your conference paper or latest pedagogy book to the side and answer the call. "Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide...but I bet there is some angry feminist out there who has issues EVEN with that example.

1 comment:

Zenzile said...

Melonee you are SO correct in your analysis. I just had an engaging hour long conversation with an academic I truly admire, and the hardest part was picking up the phone to CALL her. We spoke on the importance of community, connectedness and the power of education to bring us (and our students!!) back to our humanity. This is definitely whats missing in our conversations and philosophical/political "stances" as academics. We all know the mandate from our great-grandmothers would be "Gal! what you doing with all that schooling if you can't help folks?"