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Inspired by botany and Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the “rhizome/rhizomatic,” which emphasizes the creative, underground, multiple, and sometimes contradictory, Jafari S. Allen proposes “black/queer rhizomes.” The rhizome is the mode of propagation and sustenance for plants. Allen draws on this trope to read closely the important nodes of the recent past and present moment to theorize a “new and more possible meeting” of our artists, activists, scholars, policymakers, and intellectuals. The essay both builds on and departs from the terms and acronyms that denote nonheteronormative peoples of African descent to move beyond well-rehearsed narratives of being and push toward a future where everyone is “fluent in each other’s histories” and conversant in others’ imaginations. Given the “progress” of black queer life, what are the conditions of possibility for beautiful and transformative work today? Where should we look for inspiration, and to whom are we accountable?

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