Destiny Crockett: "Black Feminism, The Hate U Give, and the 1970's"; "An Exploration of Black Women's Writing about Mental Health"

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Meet Destiny

Destiny Crockett is originally from St. Louis, and is a first year doctoral student in Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to beginning her graduate studies at Penn, Destiny designed and taught a curriculum on Black feminist literature to middle school and high school students in Brooklyn through an after school program at Girls for Gender Equity.

She earned her B.A. from Princeton University in English with certificates in African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is interested in Black feminist thought, African American women's literature of the 20th century, and Black girlhood studies.

"Black Feminism, The Hate U Give, and the 1970's"

Black feminist politics in literature produced during the 1970’s and 1980’s teaches us not to fall into the trap of neoliberalism that often presents itself in the contemporary moment. Angie Thomas’ 2017 novel, The Hate U Give, made waves as a text that critiques police violence with candor. Toni Cade Bambara’s story titled “The Hammer Man” in her 1972 collection Gorilla, My Love critiques police and policing through the eyes of a Black girl. Both texts center on Black girl protagonists from the first person point of view, are written in Black English, and offer a moralistic voice on the role of policing in Black neighborhoods. Bambara’s 10-year-old protagonist critiqued policing (in alignment with Bambara’s critiques of racial capitalism) with a police abolitionist framework, while Thomas’ work is critical of police but not of policing, and therefore, less revolutionary; if it is used in classrooms, it should be taught critically.

"An Exploration of Black Women's Writing about Mental Health”

While popular discourse suggests that Black people are not interested in conversations about mental health and mental illnesses, Black women’s writing disprove that argument. While it may be true that due to the medical racism that countless scholars (such as Harriet Washington, Dorothy Roberts, and Jonathan Metzl) have highlighted, Black people in the United States are often distrustful of mental health systems and diagnoses, these conversations indeed occur in other spaces. I illuminate that in order to be privy to the ways Black Americans have discussed mental health, one must look beyond the therapist’s office and into literature, music, art, etc. I focus on Ntozake Shange’s novel Liliane: Resurrection of the Daughter and Marci Blackmon’s novel Po Man’s Child to show how some authors have done this. I end with a resource list of novels/songs/poetry by Black women that have explored mental health.

Jaqui Rogers