No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies
E. Patrick Johnson is Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University, the coeditor of Blacktino Queer Performance and Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, and the author of Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity, all also published by Duke University Press.
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?