Dear Mammy

April 29, 4:49 p.m.

Dear Mammy,

Just checking in. How are you? How did the workshop go? I know you wanted feedback on your paper but I haven’t had a chance to read it. Seeing the title, I was happy to hear you focused on an ontological departure rather than its arrival. On whose, or better yet, on what ground do we live? Just like Fanon wrote in 1952: “As long as the black man is among his own, he will have no occasion, except in minor internal conflicts, to experience his being through others.” Have you read Fanon?


Black Feminist Man

September 15, 11:33 p.m.

Dear Mammy,

I know it’s late but just left a department dinner haha can you tell I’m a little tipsy on that university pinot??? It’s been a while since we talked — did you text me? I got a new phone (that new iPhone) so maybe it didn’t come through. Anyway, saw that your department announced you got the fellowship! I was wondering why I didn’t get it this year but you totally deserve it, we MUST continue valuing and holding up black women. You do the real work ;)

Was also wondering if I could pick your brain? You always help me put words to my thoughts. There was something you said a few months ago that inspired me to write a journal article! But I’m really unfamiliar with the topic — it’s so your wheelhouse! Anyway, the submission deadline is in two days, maybe I could come over and chat? (My roommates are in the midst of exams and I don’t want to bother them.) Let me know a time that works for you.

Don’t be a stranger!

Black Feminist Man

October 3, 12:17 p.m.

Dear Mammy,

Hope all is well. It’s been a minute, my bad. Swamped with all the committee work and traveling for conferences. That tenure grind is no joke! Also broke up with S**** again. Not to put emotional labor on you but it’s been really hard on me. I haven’t been sleeping or eating. Mainly just drinking… I’m not even working out or playing video games anymore. Damn.

Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up to discuss my article (that you inspired!). I’m sure you’ll see it when it comes out. The real reason I’m writing is because I saw your piece in the N** Y*** T****. Wow! Do you know somebody there? I’ve been trying to get my writing in there for a while, not sure what’s up. They probably find my writing inaccessible and dense, not for the lay reader, I suppose. My intellectual traditions have always called upon readers to immerse themselves in the difficulty of language, the mire of thought, the hold of our colonized philosophic traditions. I wish Wynter and Spillers thought about that more… Haven’t finished your piece yet but the first paragraph is strong. Makes me wonder, have you read Sexton’s Black Men, Black Feminism? He might be good here. I’ve attached the PDF below.

Miss you. Don’t be a stranger!

Black Feminist Man

October 14, 6:52 a.m.

Dear Mammy,

Still haven’t heard from you. But see you are tweeting so I won’t worry too much haha. I was asked to do another panel at Ivy League Institution 🙄 but I really want to center the marginalized, muffled voices of black women so I thought of you. Think it would be great for those folx to hear all about all the amazing work you do every day, to care for your students, to care for archives, to care for your colleagues. I don’t know how you do it. You are the pulse of this little world we inhabit. The beating heart of black studies. Anyway, the panel doesn’t pay but it will be great exposure for when you go on the market. We need your voice in the room. Let me know, I’ll follow your lead.

In admiration,
Black Male Feminist

October 28, 3:47 p.m.

Dear Mammy,

Whew. I’m sure all this #MeToo stuff has you emotionally drained. Wanted to check in. How can I be supportive of black women and femmes right now? I’m all ears. Is there a book or reading list you would recommend? The Lemonade Syllabus has left such a lasting impact on my spirit, my pedagogy, and most importantly, on the spirit of my pedagogy. Anything like that?

Also, I know you don’t have the time but can you do me a HUGE favor? I teach Corregidora on Monday. Haven’t read it yet but I know you are familiar with the book (you introduced me to it!). Any thoughts on how to teach it? A quick summary? What parts to focus on? I’m on deadline for this * Magazine piece (I know, but I need the check) so I won’t have time to really go through it with a fine-tooth comb. I just respect your mind so much.

Warmth and strength,
B. M. Feminist

December 1, 11:15 a.m.

I hate to do this but my texts aren’t going through. It keeps saying they can’t be delivered. Anyway, I’m in town to receive an award tonight for my work on the Combahee River Collective and can’t get ahold of anyone at my usual salon. Can you braid my hair? They’re super raggedy and I’m kinda desperate. We could hang out after the ceremony maybe? I would invite you but me and S**** are back together and they only gave me one extra ticket. I can be at your place in an hour. You have products and stuff right?