Friday, March 2, 2012

On meeting Issa Rae and Angela Davis

She came to Princeton as part of her college tour, and Black folks came out of the woodwork to be in her presence. There was seriously this one chick I don't even think goes here, haha. She started talking and we all turned to each other like, the fuck is she? 

First awesome thing was they didn't have a mac adapter and needed to borrow a PC and since I showed up half an hour early to get a front row seat (I'm not even kidding), I had my computer with me and she used it to make her presentation! I got to help her set it up and everything. We watched the first 7 episodes--with my friend LC and I basically reciting the jokes from memory, oops--and then she talked a little and opened up the floor for questions. I knew a lot of the answers to the questions people asked because I read approximately 98745903703 interviews for the paper I wrote on Awkward Black Girl, but I was still cheesing ridiculously and just totally geeked out the whole time. I then got to take a picture with her 
I can't remember the last time I smiled that hard, lol
It was similar to when I could hardly contain myself the first time I was in the same room as Joshua Bennett. I don't think it's weird at all that I care more about meeting and talking with people like them than with most of the legitimately famous people I've gotten to meet due to the incredible resources of this institution (including but not limited to Cornel West, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, CK Lewis, Forrest Whittaker, and Tavis Smiley). Those are the kinds of famous people I expect Princeton to bring to me, established successful have been around forever exude importantness with every step kind of famous people. Josh and Issa are like, famous within certain crowds only, and I never really expected to see them outside of YouTube; their works speak to me in ways that no work of scholarship can speak to me, and they're not so in another stratosphere that it's impossible for me to have legitimate interactions with them. I'm such a legitimate fan-girl of each of them.

Meeting Angela Davis was an entirely different experience. She's a multigenerational great. Being in her presence felt weighty and significant, like I was witnessing history unfolding in front of me. I just wanted to turn into a sponge and wordlessly soak up everything she had to offer. I didn't have any real desire to interact or converse with her--as much as I feel like she would hate to hear this, I didn't feel worthy. Even if her speech wasn't the most well-organized thing I've ever heard, her words were still profound and inspiring. I would have been fully comfortable to just sit and bask in her glory, but I got the opportunity to take a photo with her too:

Some highlights from her speech (which I had typed into my phone and subsequently forgotten about):
"[It is time for us to] generate a new enthusiasm...that views us all as historical actors..."
"...a commitment to use knowledge in a transformative way and a refusal to attribute permanence to things that exist in the present simply because they exist."
"As apologies don't compensate for the deeply entrenched racism in this society, neither do they erase the homophobia that has caused so many young people to commit suicide recently."
"Racism is deeply structured by sexuality, especially in regard to expectations about practices of sexuality."
"[After slavery, sexuality was] the only means through which Black people could own their freedom."
Gertrude "Ma" Rainey's "Prove it on Me Blues" as accidental activism
prison as a gendering institution
"...just sending people to prison allows us to forget about the problem"
"The family is the site of the institutional reproduction of a flawed oppressive system."
"Binarism always shuts down thinking, because it has to be one thing or the other."
"How can we dwell inside contradictions in order to turn them into productive moments of greater freedom for us all?"

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