Saturday, August 18, 2007

Uninspired, Inspired?

The last two weeks, I have been struggling with how to get going on my dissertation prospectus/dissertation and get the hell out of graduate school. My main problem has been intersecting my personal interests (creative writing, arts activism, african diaspora politics & culture, social justice, chicago, puerto rico, family, dance) and my academic or professional interests. And of late, higher forces have been sending me examples of how I might do this. One of the most important so far has been a play shown in D.C. recently called In Her Memory. Written and performed by Piper Anderson, a stunning playwright, dancer, writer, singer and activist hailing from New York, and fellow BlackoutDC member, it addresses issues of domestic violence in the black community.

Very simply, the play reminded me that academic work isn't ONLY in the classroom. And the classroom isn't the only, or even the premier, space to bring a new society into existence. It also reminded me that I am an artist, a writer, first and foremost, and need to honor that above all else. It inspired me to continue the STRUGGLE to find ways to navigate my art through the violence of the graduate student process, but also to bring that struggle, literally, back to the streets.

The funny thing about academia is that it can make you think that you are doing SO much for the community while in actuality separating you from everything that ever made you who you are. Your family, your friends, your neighbors and your neighborhood. Your music, your language, your food. It removes you physically from your hometown most of the time, either during the graduate education process or afterward through the mobile-nomad life of the untenured professor. The academy elevates itself beyond politics, beyond systems of oppression, while in reality perpetuating those same hierarchies of race, class, gender, sexuality--even religion, since no post-1970s/Marxist trained academic would ever think of placing real importance on the power of God/Allah/Olorun in people's lives.

Click the link above, explore the play, invite Piper to speak at your "space," whether that is work, school, church, or other institution. There might be somebody in the audience who needs to hear her.

I'll keep working on getting inspired....

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