These remarks were first prepared for a symposium organized by Professor Elisa Glick at the University of Missouri-Columbia, entitled, "Race, Ethnicity & Queer Studies," sponsored by the Women's and Gender Studies Program.
Not Freud Again!
My next monograph, tentatively entitled, "Between Fabrication and Generation[s]": Biology, Sex (Acts), and Habitual Non-Belonging, interrogates the productive and the non-productive, as it attempts to resist the effort to absorb those who stand on the outside of the outside (the space of habitual non-belonging) into the body politic, into the rational pattern of biology, sex, and family. It begins with the following primal scene:
A few days after Tupac Shakur's death, I pulled into a grocery store parking lot in Palo Alto, California with my then partner's 15-year-old daughter. We were listening to one of Shakur's songs on the radio - because he was a hometown boy, the stations were playing his music around the clock - a kind of electromagnetic vigil, if you will. An older (but not elderly) woman with a grocery cart came to the driver's side of my car and asked me to move my vehicle so that she could unload her groceries. The tone of her voice conveyed the fruition of expectation - it was not only a request, but also a demand that would surely be met. The southerner in me would have been happy to help; the critic in me didn't understand why she simply couldn't put her groceries in on the other side where there were no other cars or potential impediments. I told the woman that I would gladly wait in my car until she unloaded her groceries - that way, there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver.
While she did this, I continued to listen to Shakur's music and talk with Danielle. We were "bonding" and I was glad that she was talking to me about how Shakur's death was affecting her and her classmates. When I noticed that the woman had completed her unloading, I got out and we walked behind the cars toward the SAFEWAY. What happened next has stayed with me as one of the defining moments of my life in Northern California. As we passed the right rear bumper of her car, she said with mustered indignance, "And to think I marched for you." I was stunned at first - and then I recovered. I had two options: to walk away without a word, or to confront the accusation - to model for Danielle how to handle with intelligence and grace what would surely be part of the fabric of her life as a black woman in the United States. I turned to the woman and I said, "You didn't march for me, you marched for yourself - and if you don't know that already, I can't help you."