Wordplay 2021: The White Gaze & the Reclamation of Black Performance

Who's Watching?: The White Gaze & the Reclamation of Black Performance with Douglas Kearney, Mateo Askaripour, and Hanif Abdurraqib

Virtual Wordplay is a presentation of St. Catherine University and Star Tribune. This event is a St. Kate's Critical Conversation.

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"If you are a Black man," Mateo Askaripour writes in his satirical novel Black Buck, "the key to any white person’s heart is the ability to shuck, jive, or freestyle. But use it wisely and sparingly."

With a keen eye for performances both grandiose and subtle, these authors demonstrate how inextricably Black performance is woven into the fabric of American culture—by artists on stage, but also at the park, around the office, or at the grocery store. Hanif Abdurraqib's essays in A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance weave memoir into a meditation on Black performance throughout American history; Mateo Askaripour's novel takes a dig at racism in the modern workplace; and Douglas Kearney's poems in Sho demand to be seen without spectacle. Black performance, for these writers, can be a triumph—or a costly concession. It depends who's watching.

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If this event is sold out, you will be able to watch the overflow stream on the Loft's Youtube and Facebook channels.