Blog Post

Everyday Racism, Everyday Homophobia

Everyday Racism, Everyday Homophobia:  A Symposium on the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality.   
November 8, 2012   1 pm to 4 pm   John Hope Franklin Center (Duke University), with live, interactive UStream and Twitter Feeds


Featuring:  Jack Halberstam, Mark Anthony Neal,  Marlon Ross, Kathryn Boyd Stockton, and with a response by Sharon Holland, author of The Erotic Life of Racism (

HOLD THE DATE!   On November 8, 2012, HASTAC, along with other partners, will be holding a Symposium (all details below) that will have various forms of interactivity:   UStreaming, a Twitter-feed for distributed audience questions, a broadcast on Left of Black, and students in our new PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge will make the results of the Symposium available to a wider audience in many ways, including with supplementary materials (reading questions, a reference guide of other sources, and so forth).   The Response will be delivered by Professor Sharon Holland (Duke) whose remarkable book The Erotic Life of Racism is causing a stir, even a so early in its publication cycle, for naming the unspoken interconnection of the commonplace, everyday, inarticulate forms of racism and homophobia that pervade political discourse but that also nest, unacknowledged, within critical race studies and queer theory--and are now being played out in myriad ways in our national elections, too.

What I love about this Symposium of very distinguished participants is that not al of the panelists have the same opinion on very fraught, political, and urgent questions raised by The Erotic Life of Racism.    That's the point.  We know the Symposium will also model the benefit of disagreement (what HASTAC callsl "collaboration by difference") towards the end of greater understanding.  I also love that we can talk wisely and incisively about politics while still observing the strictest rules of electoral non-partisanship.   HASTAC (and any other organization affiliated with a university that receives federal funding) models political engagement that is not politically biased--a condition of the modern academy that is also a meaty subject for intellectual engagement. 


Circle the date on your calendar!  You'll hear more about this in the months to come, but I wanted HASTAC network members to know about it first.  


Everyday Racism, Everyday Homophobia:  A Symposium on the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality.   
November 8, 2012   1 pm to 4 pm  

Participants:   Jack Halberstam (USC), Marlon Ross (UVA), Kathryn Bond Stockton (Utah), with a response by Sharon P. Holland (Duke).   Moderator, Mark Anthony Neal (Duke)

Time:  November 8, 2012   1 pm to 4 pm   
Place:  John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies
Media:  UStream  Broadcast, with live Twitter stream and live-blogging by HASTAC Scholars
Reception:  To follow (co-located with the opening reception for the graduate student-led Interhemispheric Conference “Convergences”)
Broadcast:   All or some of the footage will be part of “Left of Black,” by Host Mark Anthony Neal and the Franklin Center Studios.  

Sponsors:  HASTAC and John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, with co-sponsors Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dean of Humanities,  Department of African and African American Studies, Department of Women's Studies, John Hope Franklin Center for International and Interdisciplinary Studies,  Department of English, Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge  

Schedule: Symposium, 1pm-4pm. Public reception to follow.

Affiliated Events:  This Symposium will be co- advertised and coordinated with Michaeline Crichlow’s opening talk for “Global Affirmative Action” Conference, beginning with evening keynote, Nov 8 (the Conference is Nov 9-10 in Smith Warehouse Garage).  It will also be co-advertised and coordinated with the opening of the Graduate-Student Interhemispheric Conference “Convergences” (Nov 9-10).  

When Jodie Brunstetter, wife of North Carolina Senator Peter Brunstetter, was encouraging voters to support Amendment 1 to the North Carolina constitution in May of 2012, she observed, "The reason my husband wrote Amendment 1 was because the Caucasian race is diminishing and we need to reproduce."  The racial underpinnings of this statement shocked many since the wording of the amendment,  which ultimately passed by a wide margin, does not explicitly address issues of race or reproduction.  Amendment 1 reads:  “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.”    How and why were race, gender, and sexuality so intertwined in this political action and in the discourse surrounding it?   How is it that race/gender/sexuality are not only part of the “intersectional” theoretical movement in critical race studies and gender studies but in the everyday racism and everyday homophobia of 21st century political discourse in the U.S.?

Timed for the immediate aftermath of the Presidential election,  this Symposium will provide an analysis of these interconnected issues in American society as well as in the discourse of critical race studies, queer theory, and gender studies.  Its audience will be academics, students, and a larger public.  

The Symposium will take place at the John Hope Franklin Center at Duke University and will be UStreamed by the Franklin Center’s professional media team.   The event will also be live-blogged, tweeted, and micro-blogged by a team of HASTAC Scholars who will also be receiving feeds from the larger public and feeding questions to the speakers.  Finally, students in Duke’s new Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge will be charged with creating taped excerpts, uploaded to YouTube, that will have maximum public impact beyond Duke, including with suggestions for further reading, discussion questions raised at the Symposium, and other materials that might make useful course content well beyond Duke.  

We are extremely pleased that three of the most prominent, distinguished, and eloquent scholars in these fields—each offering different perspectives and critiques—will come to Duke for a vibrant, timely forum:   

Jack Halberstam (USC):  Halberstam is Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California. Halberstam’s books include  Female Masculinity,  In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives,  Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters,  What's Queer about Queer Studies Now? and The Queer Art of Failure.
Marlon Ross (University of  Virginia):  Professor of English, with specializations in African American, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Romanticism, and author of Manning the Race and The Contours of Masculine Desire .
Kathryn Bond Stockton (University of  Utah).  Distinguished Professor of English and Gender Studies, and author of The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century,  Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where “Black” Meets “Queer” , and God Between Their Lips: Desire Between Women in Irigaray, Bronte, and Eliot.
RESPONSE:  Sharon Holland (Duke University)
Participating and responding to this discussion, and honored in this symposium for her key contribution to this debate,  will be Sharon Holland (Duke University), whose searing, controversial, and prescient new book, The Erotic Life of Racism, is a key document helping to define and understand these typically unspoken interconnections between what she terms “everyday racism” and “everyday homophobia,” including the intertwined histories of racial eugenics and reproductive rights.  These recurrent strains in American society also form much of the discourse of critical race theory, transnational studies, American studies, gender theory, queer theory, and sexuality studies.    

Whatever the results of the November 2012 Presidential bid, this Symposium will help us to put into perspective a number of issues that have, together and in unspoken ways, been summoned up in U.S. politics for decades, some would even say since our beginnings as a nation.   Besides setting that larger cultural and historical context, the Symposium will untangle such specifics as the focus on Planned Parenthood, the President’s “evolving” support for gay marriage, and Newsweek magazine subsequently dubbing him America’s “first gay President” (a clear reference back to President Bill Clinton having been called “America’s first Black President), and many other key, unresolved, unspoken, and yet interconnected conundrums that continue to roil U.S.  political, cultural, social, and intellectual life.   These issues, inevitably, also shape debates around public funding and support of diversity programs, affirmative action, ethnic studies programs, the humanities and social sciences, and, indeed, higher education more generally.




Cathy N. Davidson is co-founder of HASTAC, a 9000+ network committed to new modes of collaboration, research, learning, and institutional change.  Along with a steering committee of scholars across many fields, Davidson has been directing HASTAC's operations since 2006, when moved to Duke University, where she also co-directs the Ph.D. Lab in Digital Knowledge.   She is author of The Future of Thinking:  Learning Institutions for a Digital Age (with HASTAC co-founder David Theo Goldberg), and  Now You See It:  How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn (Viking Press). She is co-PI on the HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.   NOTE:  The views expressed in Cat in the Stack blogs and in NOW YOU SEE IT are solely those of the author and not of HASTAC, nor of any institution or organization. Davidson also writes on her own author blog, [NYSI cover]


1 comment

Was it intended to remind people of North Carolina's vote this month, or to excite or to avoid influencing the state's vote in November? Either way it seems highly political, even if its intent was quite the opposite. The same week as the national election!? Of the first black (and, with Newsweek, gay) President!

A few months ago a college group of GLT activists scheduled a meeting at the local public library. Since I'm on many lists, including one from the city, I suggested they invite their peer activists from the High School, which shares the same block as the library. They did.

At the meeting, each of the college students in turn talked about their difficulty "coming out," and how they each had waited until they moved to college to avoid the politics of friends and family. They went on at some length, completely ignoring the odd and querulous looks of the high school students at the same table who, quite apparently, had far more "courage" than their college near-peers. It was, in fact, a vivid demonstration not of liberation but of the failures of class, since the high school kids were far, far more "liberated," and their college "mentors" far more ignorant, in spite of the money their parents spent sending them "away" to college.

That finally became obvious when the college group tried to focus on how they might attack "homophobia." At that point I intervened, and pointed out that, in the 1960's, when the first and (then) only gay elected official in United States history, Elaine Noble, rode the busses with black kids at the peak of Boston's bussing crisis, she also wore a fur coat. Homophobia's foundation is both desegregation and feminism, at least in New England. Harvey Milk was both later and...less controversial, although a more dramatic victim.