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In this multimedia essay, we explore doing digital wrongly as a music-making process rooted in Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT), a collective space of organizing with Black girls to celebrate Black girlhood. Using first-person narrative, reflection, and photography, our essay is arranged as a story of an incoherent collective that highlights a litany of listening practices and responses to our personal lives and participation in SOLHOT, and how music becomes an iteration of how we worked together. Guided by an investment in Black feminist and womanist theories and practices, we demonstrate the usefulness and nonuse of a sonic ritualized creative practice that allows us to critique ourselves, as well as structural conditions, in relation to doing collective work with Black girls, based on how sounds arrived to us and what we brought to it. Our essay is in critical conversation with various themes in this American Quarterly special issue, "Toward a Critically Engaged Digital Practice: American Studies and the Digital Humanities," including collaborative research and inter/transdisciplinary, digital humanities as publicly engaged scholarship, and possibilities and limitations for digital humanities and American studies in colleges and universities, including pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate levels. "Doing Digital Wrongly" is a narrative and analysis of praxis that contributes to and renews academic preoccupations with digital humanities, Black girlhood, and hip-hop studies.
This multimedia essay also disrupts several assumptions of qualitative inquiry and allows us to reimagine the collective as not without you; to re-sound Black girlhood as not biologically determined; and to reverberate love for who was there, who is still there, those who left, those who ain't never leaving, and for those of the future who will come like they've always been a part. We show how we used doing digital wrongly to face heartbreak, and how we turned to music to reimagine new ways to be and do SOLHOT together. SOLHOT is made possible by do-it-ourselves ethics; we create what we need for the Black girlhood we make and our do-it-ourselves aesthetics, which includes making music as a band capable of redirecting sounds that allow us to save our lives, and hear our truths. Doing digital wrongly, in its initial iteration, made specific promises possible, including "I love you in a space that says we shouldn't," "We are artists without form and scholars without method," and "We are misunderstood and determined to persist," which are fully described and analyzed in this essay. Doing digital wrongly changed the set design of traditional work with Black girls in community spaces, to feature listening, friendship, peer mediation, and community mediation. When we do digital wrongly, we show up and out for us, as a way to circulate frequencies that register Black girlhood priceless and something that ought to feel like you are implicated too.