Black Girl Labor as Magic: Toward an understanding of Digital Black Feminism
March 12, 2019
3pm - 5pm
Special Events Room, Sixth Floor, McKeldin Library
University of Maryland, College Park
Dr. Catherine Knight Steele, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Maryland College Park
The phrase Black Girl Magic became a popular hashtag and rallying cry used to celebrate the everyday ways that Black women thrive in spite of the boundaries erected to keep them from doing such. But, are Black women really magic? Popular hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic do not do the work of explaining the centuries of wisdom, labor and ingenuity that have put black women in a position to do the longsuffering and thankless work that looks to outsiders like ‘magic’. The digital provides as site to explore the unique interlocking systems of oppression historically enacted upon Black women. I argue that Black women’s relationship with communication technology informs a circumstance of its use that inherently is the most generative. The discussion of black digital life often centers on digital activism with many recent offering focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. While authors have rightly pointed out that black women were the original creators of the hashtag and hashtags like #SayHerName to counter the male narrative, black men still regularly stand in for studies of blackness online. In this talk, I use the black feminist blogosphere to discuss how digital black feminists through their use of digital technology provide us with a clear example of the use of communicative technology that often is both inventive and liberatory.
About the Speaker:
Catherine Knight Steele is a scholar of race, gender and media with specific focus on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. Her research has appeared in the Howard Journal of Communications and the book Intersectional Internet (S.U. Noble and B. Tynes Eds.) Her doctoral dissertation, Digital Barbershops, focused heavily on the black blogosphere and the politics of online counterpublics. She is currently working on a monograph about digital black feminism and new media technologies. Dr. Steele also serves as the first Project Director for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded College of Arts and Humanities grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture.
Special Events Room, Sixth Floor, McKeldin Library, University of Maryland College Park