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  • Pleasure Verses:A Five Element Set
  • Ruth Nicole Brown (bio)

I offer five pleasure verses, which I define as nuanced expressions on a joypain continuum that emerge from collective work which SWINGS SLAPS and SUFFOCATES the status quo. These pleasure verses exemplify Midwestern erotic aesthetics of cold double negatives and I-will-show-you-how-I-heard-us pedagogies of impossibilities transformed by collective work that continually and continuously remakes Black girlhood through practice as praxis. These verses are a direct engagement with creative nonfiction, a pleasure of mine, and also an analytic of feeling Everywhere: worlds. Everywhere: Black girls.1

Wind chills: Below zeroBlack girlhood studies is hereand of us who have been workingfor years, decadessomehow always knowbefore the humanities and sciencesBlack girlhood, universethe unknown still greater than the knownSo there is absolutely no need toreplicate proliferateand say, I will always iron2        when she tries to give up one thing        by letting them have it only to give        up another there is love and failure        which is not failure really only        an overindulgent waitfor us creating this timewith a device that deschoolsso we can startwith what we thinklike maybe perhapsBlack girlhoodas flowerBlack girlhood divinityinquisitionsas purple [End Page 179] and every colorso much variation    to be the blue & the red    the green, the hot pink3            somebody let the yellow in4trauma is but one look &            I think it's perfectly natural to look skyward.5

First: Future Real Conditional

In Listening to Images, Tina Campt wrote,

I remain committed to a Black feminist praxis of futurity and the grammar of the future real conditional. More specifically, I feel a deep accountability to the had to of this tense and the necessity of its (grammatically implied) "must." For I believe that the challenge of Black feminist futurity is the constant and perpetual need to remain committed to the political necessity of what will have had to happen, because it is tethered to a different kind of "must."6

The grammar of the future real conditional of knowing and remembering Black girlhood with Black girls and homegirls must sound like:

organizing Black girlhood with Black girls and homegirls will have had to happen, for my belief in Black girlhood to be greater than my love for the institution and for me to act like I know deep satisfaction

making music with Black girls and homegirls will have had to happen, for our Black girl freedom songs to peer mediate, remind us who we are when we've forgotten, and of course instigate love and new groups, duos, and relations

animating everything but the "I, expert" Black Girl Genius Week will have had to happen, for all of our sake, so it can't be that same old; dusty respectable song of etiquette and reform nor the equally worn out "only I know it theory of relativity" that leaves grandma unimpressed as Toni Cade Bambara narrated in "The Education of a Storyteller"7

remembering Kenneka Jenkins, Latasha Harlins, and Sakia Gunn will have had to happen, for Black girls present-alive, and looking back at us, to reappear and save their truths so we can carry them with us into the now [End Page 180]

Dynamic Duos: Rest and CollaborationBlack girlsa complete audienceeven asevery categorization is missing somebodyi can't afford to cheapenwhile doing radical Black girlhoodreally those words tryand livebutabsolutely do knowwhatever kind of Black girlhoodi'm writing aboutthinking throughorganizing withI have been a pleasure: being8the audiencelooks very much like the same peoplewho made me possiblehere now and at firstglance, maybe that leap don't look big enoughare these anxieties valid?what would happen if that shadow work became public?plan tokeep those folks who grew me, with mewelcoming our circumstancesnow that it's allchanged and stayed the sameso that itoomay knowrestcollaboration annnnnnnnnddd

so that homegirlstoomay knowrest andcollaboration        BeCaussssssse there are Black girls who...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6490
Print ISSN
0003-0678
Pages
pp. 179-189
Launched on MUSE
2019-04-03
Open Access
No
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