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Saturday, April 28 • 1:45pm - 3:15pm
Roundtable: Recognizing Black Women's Complexities

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Regina N. Bradley, Timothy Anne Burnside, and Bettina Judd  
Like a Moth to a Flame Burned by the Fire: 
Recognizing Black Women’s Complexities in Popular Music  
Janet Jackson’s 1993 sultry remake of the song “That’s the Way Love Goes” opens with the line “Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire.” While Jackson is talking about the ups and downs of how love manifests itself, the imagery of the moth being burned by a flame also applies to how Black women attempt to view and position themselves in American society. Of particular interest is how Black women hold a peculiar space in popular culture: their bodies and cultural expressions are emulated, their style duplicated, but no room is made to recognize their agency. They are, in essence, burned by the very flame that they are attempting to master. The imposed expectations and biases placed upon black women about how to perform race, (hyper)sexuality, and class –in all senses of the word – also impact their autonomy.  Black women’s search for space in memory, in culture, and in themselves is especially significant in popular music.

Our 90 minute roundtable is a discussion of how to recognize, interpret, and preserve the various threads of Black womanhood found in popular music. We are interested in not only how black women musicians create and package their narratives but also the frameworks and archives that are used to interpret their meanings and experiences. Specifically, we seek to redefine the touchstones of legible and illegible black womanhood as signifiers of a black (American) experience.

avatar for Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley

Regina N. Bradley is Assistant Professor of English and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA. She writes about race and sound, hip-hop, and the post-Civil Rights Black American South. Her first book, Chronicling Stankonia: OutKast and the Rise of the... Read More →
avatar for Timothy Anne Burnside

Timothy Anne Burnside

Timothy Anne Burnside is a Museum Specialist in Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). She works closely with object donors to build collections around music & performing arts and contemporary cultural... Read More →
avatar for Bettina Judd

Bettina Judd

Bettina Judd is an interdisciplinary writer, artist and performer whose research focus is on Black women's creative production and our use of visual art, literature, and music to develop feminist thought. Her current book manuscript argues that Black women’s creative production... Read More →

Saturday April 28, 2018 1:45pm - 3:15pm PDT
Sky Church