The Origin Story

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A visual of our collaboration. (Citation)

As we come back to this space after taking some time away from it, we wanted to write a post explaining why we have this blog. Why a blog? Why a shared blog? And what’s up with the blog name?

WHY A BLOG? Since we’ve met, we’ve been having conversations that have blown both of our minds. We push each other to think more deeply and fully, and that has been a sustaining element in our lives in Minnesota. Not to toot our own horns (not that either of us are good at tooting horns), but we thought that some of our thinking and the way that we work through and within uncertainty might be helpful for others. So we decided to create a space where we could do this work in a public way. We felt that a blog would allow us to attempt to be thoughtful and smart, but also highlight our humor, our personalities, and our mistakes. We’ve both often felt like the rules of academic writing hampered us, and we wanted to be able to set our own rules for how we present our voices to the world.

We also wanted a space to amplify the work of scholars, thinkers, and activists of color. A friend of Adriana’s has written about the “politics of citation.” Following María Elena Cepeda’s call to cite each other [i.e. scholars of color], this blog is a place where we try to signal boost voices that might not always get heard in academia.

The truth is that we would love to do a podcast like Heben & Tracy–we think our conversations are much more fun when you can hear them–but we both suck at audio editing and have no clue how to produce a podcast. We are in need of the kind of podsquad that they have! If any readers are qualified and want to be part of our podsquad, hit us on the buzz!**

WHY A SHARED BLOG? You might imagine that when we are writing these posts together, we spend tortured hours worrying about word choices and perfect sentences. We don’t.  Instead, our conversations about how to language our ideas are probably some of the most joyful moments of our week. We made a commitment to write together most of the posts because writing together means that we are thinking together. Sharing a blog means that we collaborate, we co-create knowledge, we share experiences and emotions… in other words, we aim to do “transformative scholarship.” As Jigna Desai (one of our sheroes) writes:

What is still missing in our conversations about critical ethnic studies, feminist scholarship, and transformative humanistic projects? Let us talk about how we do our work. Why is it that we talk about decolonization of knowledge and yet perpetuate a cult of celebrity academics and/or fetishize the monograph? Why is it difficult to see collaborations across small and large structures of power as transformative? We must learn to recognize how the subject and the form contribute to decolonizing scholarship. Intentional dialogue, mentoring, and collaborations should not be understood in mathematical formulae that fracture essays into percentages, that divide attributions like pie. We must work to recognize scholars for their larger body of work as the sum greater than its parts. At the end of the day, such a calculus of acknowledgement should not replicate a celebrity or capitalist system that sees knowledge as stemming from the cult of the persona or diminished through collaboration. Instead it must work, to name not only transformative scholarship, but the new forms in which it appears.” (Facebook post, August 25, 2013)

WHY DOWN WITH BROWN? We struggled to come up with a name that was as revolutionary as we feel. We knew that we wanted to center the bodies and experiences of women of color while taking into account the limits of our own bodies and experiences. In her earlier, younger blog, Adriana uses the metaphor of coffee to gesture at experiences of Latinx brownness in the U.S. (Important interjection from Anita: BUT, BUT you love our blog, right??) Of course, the expression “down with” is used to signify alliance and solidarity, as in “down with that.”

(Important interjection from Adriana: OMG, OMG we just found out that we are not down with the phrase “down with the brown,” as defined by urban dictionary!! P.S. On a more serious note, maybe we’ll write a future blog post about what it means to love and live across racial identities.)

Now that you’ve learned about the blog’s origin story, we hope that it helps you understand a bit better where we’re coming from and why we write what and how we write.

** If you don’t know what “podsquad” or “hit us on the buzz” means, you clearly haven’t been listening to enough episodes of Another Round with Heben and Tracy. And you need to remedy that fast!