WORD IS BOND:
AN INTRODUCTION TO BLACK RHETORIC, LANGUAGE & LIFE
Courses by Carmen Kynard, PhD
Theme I The Jump Off... "We Gon Do This Just Like Big Poppa Was Here"
Theme II “They Want EFX”: Black Language and Literacy as Centrifugal Force
Theme III “How We Get Free”: Black Feminist Rhetorics as Legacy of Abolition
Theme IV "All Tea, No Shade": Black Queer Rhetorics for a New Language of Humanness
Theme V “Unapologetic” Futures: The Movement for All Black (Digital) Lives in the 21st Century
This set of experiences is designed to introduce you to the critical practices of Black Rhetoric and Black Language that have channeled and challenged the most pressing social issues of their time. We will follow some of the more traditional practices of African American rhetorical study and closely examine persuasive strategies in multiple Black public texts (song, speech, tweet, meme, painting, letter, essay, etc.) However, we will mostly focus on Black activist groups, community organizers, performers, artists, writers, and speakers to ask ourselves: how do Black Rhetors dream new futures in a world that denies them human life? Our key themes will include: Black gender/ sexuality/ intersectional justice, the sacred-secular continuum, political economies, digital Blackness, and the history of Black language and literacy (the top tabs and list above give you more details on these themes). As a community, we will identify Black life as infamous and intimate, loud and quiet, past and present, well-known and forgotten and challenge ourselves to see and feel how all that Black Rhetoric helps us achieve more critical visions and praxis for an intersectional racial justice. All of your course materials will be located at this website and you, too, will have the opportunity to digitally curate Black Rhetorical Knowledge in our time together (no prior technological skill is required).
About the soundtrack now playing:
"Underground Is My Home" frames this website's homepage. Considered an anthem for Gospel-House enthusiasts, "Underground is My Home" is featured prominently in Rennie Harris's "Home," a theatrical performance by the Alvin Ailey dancers to commemorate World AIDS Day and the brilliance of Alvin Ailey. Here are the lyrics that inspire us: "deep, deep where the sun don't shine is a place that I call home, where the planetary alignment is right and the deejay cuts out the lights, deeeeep is where I'm home."
This notion and naming of an underground--- a radical, unencumbered space where Black imagination and full embodiment can be free--- resonates through African American culture, so much so that we can consider it a central expression of Black language. Here are just a few instances with considerable hold on the black imagination: the Underground Railroad, the digital underground, the underground in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, underground Hip Hop... the list goes on. These lyrics--- this entire thumpin celebration--- seem appropriate for this college course that focuses on Black rhetoric and language.
There is often little support or encouragement for students to take such a class in college, to center Black vernacular in what we do and how we survive as an intellectual and radical endeavor, or to write about it with fervor and conviction in 21st century digital spaces. But that's okay because we will do all that and more... welcome to the Underground... where we will find HOME!