Joan Morgan’s interview for the Annual Hip Hop Symposium was genuine, organic, and a breath of fresh air. What was an extra credit opportunity for many turned out to be a moment of reassurance for me because I was able to hear myself represented on a platform that isn’t frequently offered here on campus. I have always been aware that the community and culture black people share inevitably leads to connections being made, but something about this intimate exchange of conversation and welcoming energy reached a new level of comfort for me.
In my previous blog post, I discussed the significance of labeling. Sometimes, we choose how we want to define ourselves in order to categorize others. At the end of the day, labeling individuals can be subjective until others agree that it becomes a new status quo. Initially, I was going to attend this event to represent the Black Student Union as an e-board member. As soon as I walked into the room, I knew that I was going to experience something different yet needed. The music in the background was from artists I listen to daily. People who were conversing on the side would pause to make sure they greeted each new person who entered the room. Basically, the environment of this event was comfortable and welcoming, which is something I rarely feel whenever I attend a similar seminar in Geneseo.
Multiple points jumped out at me throughout the whole interview, such as Morgan admitting to deleting all of her social media and not carrying her phone with her at all times in this technology-driven society we live in. She mentioned how her publisher only allowed her to write She Begat This?: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in a span of four months, but she was able to complete this difficult task for the first month in Miami. The guest speaker also said that she actually met the Lauryn Hill in person for an interview while she was working at Essence Magazine, but has never attended an official journalism school nor taken a literature course. All of these concepts Morgan explained about her writing process and past experiences are definitely fascinating, but what stood out to me most was the fact that she talked about intersectionality the same way I subconsciously think about it daily.
In my last post, I said how I prefer to use ‘black’ opposed to ‘African-American’ due to the connection I have with my Caribbean heritage more than my distant African culture. Saying ‘African-American’ is excluding those who identify more with other regions of the world, and it takes away from the versatility of the interconnectedness we as human beings possess. Ms. Morgan said those exact words when describing how she defines herself. I almost gasped right then and there on the spot from a feeling of shock and relief. It amazed me that someone else feels the same way I do about something I regularly contemplate.
Later on, the conversation shifted towards intersectionality in terms of “are you more black or a woman?” opposed to the discussion about “black versus African-American.” Once again, I think about this concept frequently, and I’ve become more conscious of how I present myself in society. At first, I would identify more with my blackness due to the rural environment I grew up in my whole life. I was never necessarily concerned with people asking me my views on the gender relations in America as often as I was race relations, especially during the 2016 Presidential Election. Once I got to college, I learned that it’s okay to be both because I am both. I’ve learned, and I’m still learning, that my femininity the way I define it can co-exist with my blackness and how I define that as well.
Overall, what makes this Intersectionality 2.0 is that I was able to experience my thoughts in real life from someone who is constantly on the go and hears similar stories to mine. It’s just reassuring to know that I’m not dealing with this dilemma of trying to figure myself out alone and that it’s a normal process, especially since it’s something not openly discussed for black women. I believe that once more conversations like the one that happened Tuesday night occur, more people can become more confident in the skin, body, and soul they’re living in, and they don’t have to wait for a monumental moment in their life to realize it.