Quoted: Danah L. Cunningham on “The Black Voice”

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


Let me start by saying that from where I stand, collective discourse, debate, dissent and demand are crucially necessary for building the political will to advance African Americans’ equity claims. Black voice is critical to this process. I am focused here on that part of black voice that prioritizes political strategies and collective action. Thus, I use the terms “black voice” and “freedom discourse” interchangeably. Because our struggles are counter-majoritarian, because therefore, the “sensible” thing to do is to ignore them and go on with the existing frameworks that make these struggles invisible, it is critical for black people to be able to come together and make sense of their conditions, determine what they want to change and then to figure out how they will make change. This is very different activity from supporting a particular candidate or even a legislative agenda. Electoral and legislative campaigns by definition demand cultivation of the white electoral majority’s opinions and carry inherent risk that they will censure claims or interests that are unpleasant to that majority. Without a prior agenda-setting discourse enabling African American communities to arrive at some collective decisions about their shared future, I can’t imagine either innovation in support of, or accountability to, black concerns.

Black voice stems from the schizophrenic daily experience of being un-free in a society that claims freedom as its first principle. Black voice provides a unique, and I would argue, necessary, perspective on the failures of American democratic institutions. Frederick Douglass, asked to address an abolitionist group on the subject of Independence Day, captured it best when he chose to “see, this day, and its popular characteristics, from the slave’s point of view:”

    [Y]our high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. . . .. The
    rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your
    fathers, is shared by you, not by me. . … This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.
    You may rejoice, I must mourn. . .”

    Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” July 5, 1852

Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Can African-Americans Find Their Voice in Cyberspace?: A Conversation With Dayna Cunningham (Part One of Four)

(Thanks to reader Jason for the tip!)

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

Comments on this blog are moderated. Please read our comment moderation policy.

Use the "for:racialicious" tag in del.icio.us to send us tips. See here for detailed instructions.

Interested in writing for us? Check out our submissions guidelines.

Follow Us on Twitter!

Support Racialicious

The Octavia Butler Book Club

The Octavia Butler Book Club
(Click the book for the latest conversation)

Recent Comments

Feminism for Real – Jessica, Latoya, Andrea

Feminism for Real

Yes Means Yes – Latoya

Yes Means Yes

Sex Ed and Youth – Jessica

Youth and Sexual Health

OMLN

Online Media Legal Network

Recent Posts

Support Racialicious

Older Archives

Tags

Written by: