Unsettled Territory is a place for me to share the fruits of decades of careful reading, patient listening, and persistent yearning. I am a Black daughter of the South, reared in New England and the Midwest, currently living in the mid-Atlantic, who writes and studies across fields including: history, literature, music, law, and Black life. I am a lover of language, archives, ephemera, and ideas.
As an educator and an intellectual, I live with the precepts that the word we use to describe something can never adequately account for the thing itself, and that the maps we are given never account for the complete territory. Hence, Unsettled Territory will challenge the known and dance with the speculative. Most important, it will ask readers to pay attention differently than is standard. I believe that we reveal values in where we look and how we tell. In this unsettling time, we have to be open to allowing our values to be challenged, and wise enough to transform them when appropriate.
My newsletter will offer unexpected yet passionate entries that have one consistent undercurrent. Namely, I am always seeking the beloved community. Written for the curious, the committed, and fellow seekers, from any and every corner, the newsletter will offer readers some joy, some grief, and a disruption of superficial and conventional takes on various matters of history and culture.
In addition to describing various people, events, artifacts, and places, I’ll provide personal reflections on living in the midst of overlapping historical crises, with a complicated, harrowing, and nevertheless sometimes quite beautiful past behind us. Readers are sure to be surprised, sometimes disgruntled, and frequently challenged.
The joy of this newsletter is, for me, its work-in-progress quality. Each entry steps into a conversation, rather than attempting to find resolution. I hope that it will ignite conversations and deliberations, far beyond my reach and body of knowledge. It will be a vehicle through which we develop. Sometimes the right questions are more powerful than the best answers. Sometimes the imagination supersedes the sharpest analyses. Often wisdom is found in a way that feels almost magical in its unexpectedness. That’s where we begin. And, consistent with my two decades–plus working in the classroom as a professor, I believe Unsettled Territory can be a place where big questions are reckoned with by using specific and close readings of our collective present, our varying pasts, and our imagined futures.