Cornel Grey, (Call Me Something Other than 'Stranger') Call Me 'Human'/'Life-Form'/'Kin': Notes on Black Queer Diasporic Intimacies

Race, Ethics + Power: Emerging Scholars

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(Call Me Something Other than ‘Stranger’) Call Me ‘Human’/’Life-Form’/’Kin’: Notes on Black Queer Diasporic Intimacies

The centuries-long theft of black folks from the African continent to various sites in the Americas disrupted the formation of familial structures among enslaved peoples. Atlantic enslavement, to echo Rinaldo Walcott, also created conditions that fundamentally challenged what relationality can look like (TVO Docs 2009). This paper builds on Walcott’s argument to examine how black queer sociality opens up space for more capacious forms of connection. I begin with a name and the process of naming as a point of departure for thinking through how black queer folks come to understand family and belonging. I then consider how black queer folks negotiate heteropatriarchal definitions of kinship through redefinition and refusal. I argue that black queer diasporic forms of relationality allow black folks to breathe through touch. In closing, I suggest that contact during the event of Atlantic enslavement was instructive for developing a knowledge system that allows black folks to survive under conditions of violence.

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Cornel Grey is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Women & Gender Studies Institute and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health (DLSPH), University of Toronto. His doctoral research examines how black queer men enact kinship and intimacy through physical touch. Cornel works through the tensions of skin-to-skin touch as a form of medicine for black queer folks and as the occasion of violence against the black body. Using public health as a point of departure, Cornel’s research considers how black queer socialities challenge us to think differently about questions of risk, breath, health, and relationality. As a Postdoctoral Fellow at DLSPH, Cornel is currently examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social and sexual lives of gay, bisexual and queer men.

Thu, Oct 21, 2021
04:00 PM - 05:30 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin