The Post-Racist Debate

Academics should blog, Jurgenson from Cyborgology tells us, to engage with those outside of the academy.

Now—should we be so lucky that a non-academic takes the time to read these posts—the whole world can see the arguments that previously took place spaced out over years in journal articles, or were raged at with local colleagues over a bottle of wine.

The latest example is the blogstorm over post-racist vs. post-racial between Fabio Rojas, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Eric Anthony Grollman. I’m grateful for the chance to see a debate between three great scholars. One of this blog’s goals is to let readers behind the academic curtain and so I’m going to venture a few comments on the debate.

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The Circular Firing Squad: A Facebook Flamewar Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics


Last week, I lost a friend over a Jezebel article.

In what I might forever call Facebook-gate 2013 (I know, it’s early in the year, but I have hope this will be the worst), I dragged myself down into a bitter day-long fight over social media that I hadn’t experienced since Livejournal, that early internet furnace of my high school flamewars. Forces marshaled on two sides of the dispute: Was the Jezebel article irredeemably sexist and biphobic? Or were those claims of sexism and biphobia themselves a distraction from the central claim of the article that some people with privilege feel entitled to enter minority spaces? Who was derailing whom? Continue reading

Why is it a “queer” metropolis?

I’ve been posting links to these posts on Twitter and my Facebook page. On the link, I got a response from one of my friends, another graduate student, that I was using the term queer too loosely. I seemed, in his eyes, to be using queer as an umbrella term that stripped it of its radical meaning. Why call this project “Queer Metropolis” and not “LGBT Metropolis” or just “Gay Metropolis”? (Besides that the last one is the title of a book by George Kaiser following the history of gay men in America centered on New York City.) Largely, why use the term queer?

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Be Careful What You Wish For

Last week, I discussed the first of two emerging themes that relate to the changing status of queer people in American society. The first is that Boystown is a commercial destination, not a community, or at least it is perceived that way by some. The second that I am going to discuss today is “be careful what you wish for.”

Queer people have been fighting for acceptance and equal rights for decades. What does acceptance mean though? Do we assimilate or do we maintain a separate community? Are we just like everyone else or is there something special to being queer?

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Gay Disneyland

Adam and I were stuffed into a small booth in a local greasy spoon. The waitress in her oversized grey T-shirt sauntered over to ask us if we wanted anymore coffee. Against my better judgment, I took another cup, although Adam waved it away.

“It’s like a mall.” He told me. “You go to shop at the mall. You go to hang out at the mall. You don’t live at the mall.”

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When Bakhtin is in Boystown

Over the weekend, I sat at my computer. At one point mid-Saturday, I wailed to my cats who sat on the couch looking at me impassively, “This all just needs to slow down!” For historians, my naive outside perception is that the challenge is often finding one’s data. Has someone preserved a set of documents, letters, or diaries that have information about the story that I want to tell? For the ethnographer, the challenge can often be keeping up with one’s data. Queers aren’t going to sit down and shut up just because I need a day off. Queer Metropolis never sleeps.

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Truly Total Ethnography

The Chicago School produced “total ethnography,” capturing the full essence of a place. It should come as no surprise, given the title of this blog and my work, that St. Clair Drake and Horace R. Cayton, Jr.’s classic Black Metropolis is a major influence on my work. Written in two volumes, Black Metropolis captures in incredible detail the life of residents of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Unlike some of today’s ethnographies that theoretically follow an idea or object across multiple communities (see Multisited Ethnography, like Threads) or that follow a particular group of people (e.g, Slim’s Table), Black Metropolis covers nearly every aspect of Bronzeville, from “The Power of the Press and Pulpit” to “Lower Class: Sex and Family.”

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