Should-ing All Over Ourselves

November 2, 2012
By

By Koritha Mitchell

In November 2001, right before I began writing my dissertation, I experienced one of the defining moments of my life. I had recently become ABD (all but dissertation) by passing my qualifying exams and had learned of an upcoming symposium at Princeton University in honor of Claudia Tate, the author of Domestic Allegories of Political Desire, one of the literary studies that impressed me most while studying for my exams. I don’t know how I heard about the symposium, but I immediately arranged for another graduate student to teach my classes so that I could leave College Park, Maryland early in the morning and drive to Princeton, New Jersey. All of my colleagues knew where I was headed, but I made the three and half-hour drive alone. The car could’ve been full, though, because I had the words of Claudia Tate, Ann duCille, Hazel Carby, Hortense Spillers, Deborah McDowell, and many others in my head from months of intensive study. With each mile, I grew more excited!

I knew these critics only through their writing, so my heart stopped when Professor Tate entered the auditorium accompanied by an oxygen machine. The talks that day were rigorous and personal. Clearly, everyone had agreed that the best way to honor Tate’s work was to present quality work themselves. The personal emerged in several ways. I remember Hazel Carby saying that her generation of scholars must tell the next generation the truth—much of it painful—about what it took to pave the path for us. Also, many shared stories about being in graduate school with Tate or being mentored by her years later. I could feel the joy and gratitude in the room as well as the effort some exerted by holding back their tears.

I left that event determined to continue my scholarly journey. That gathering marked the beginning of my creating an ideal mentor, a composite role model. The people I encountered represented different strategies for becoming and remaining a productive scholar, committed mentor, and engaged citizen. Because this symposium shaped my development, I see myself as a black feminist scholar who is part of a tradition that is based on 1) a commitment to remaining aware of the work that has made present conditions possible and 2) an equal concern for how one’s own work will affect the future.

This tradition may be best understood in the framework that Ann duCille set out in her seminal essay “The Occult of True Black Womanhood” (Signs, 1994). In short, that framework is a critical demeanor that neither relegates black women to a “hyperstatic alterity” nor marginalizes black women as subjects or as scholars. I am particularly drawn to this concept as a performance theorist because critical demeanor calls attention to one’s stance as both physical manifestation and metaphor, as an observable posture and a less concrete (but unmistakable) attitude and approach.

Understanding the importance of critical demeanor, I refuse to should all over myself, and I am quite unapologetic about that refusal.

Women are bombarded with messages that we should do all kinds of things. We should put others before ourselves. Further, we should want to put others before ourselves. In fact, we are encouraged to believe that prioritizing our own interests, desires, goals—even our own health—is unnatural and certainly not feminine. Everyday, we are told in countless ways that we should feel good about being called “selfless.” In short, despite the price we pay in terms of emotional and physical health, black women, especially, are encouraged to should all over ourselves.

Don’t we know better? Don’t we know that there is widely applicable wisdom in the flight attendant’s advice: “secure your own mask before assisting others”?

Refusing to should all over myself is a way of acknowledging that black women are dynamic, complex, and human. We are not best understood—and we do not best understand ourselves—through static models such as the strong black woman or the selfless caregiver.

The strong black woman and selfless caregiver have become archetypes, powerful images that most of us find compelling. For this reason, these images deserve critical attention of the sort offered by Trudier Harris in Saints, Sinners, Saviors (2001) and Melissa Harris-Perry in Sister Citizen (2011). Both archetypes emerge from shoulds. You know, a real black woman should be able to topple all obstacles. It might be smart to embrace this should, many of us assume, because a black woman will certainly encounter more than her fair share of roadblocks. Likewise, a black woman should be the first to want to “give back” because none of us could be where we are without the sacrifices of others.

As much as these messages resonate with me, they cannot erase this truth: doing something because you should sets you up for resentment and/or self-righteousness. Resentment emerges whenever a beneficiary does not express gratitude exactly as the should-er deems appropriate. Without consciously realizing it, some people assume that their doing something for another means that the beneficiary “owes” them. When the debt is not acknowledged as the should-er sees fit, she feels unappreciated and judges the beneficiary as ungrateful and self-centered. Whenever I’m tempted to see beneficiaries in that way, I ask myself: is that accurate or was I motivated more than I realized by an expectation of shaping someone else’s behavior?

Should-ers do not just resent beneficiaries, though. Should-ers often become resentful when they see someone else refuse to take something on, especially when it is something that the should-er did but wishes that she had not done, because she didn’t really want to do it and really couldn’t afford to do it.

Should-ing can lead to self-righteousness as much as resentment. For too many of us, it is important to do what we should because it makes us feel like a good person. But how do you know a good person when you see one? Certainly, black feminist scholars realize that racism, sexism, and other ideologies affect everyone’s judgment regarding who is or is not a good person. Even our view of ourselves is not immune to assumptions about how modest, nurturing, and selfless women should be.

Especially given that reality, I am arguing for a crucial shift in attitude and approach, and I make this argument with not only Claudia Tate, but also Barbara Christian, Nellie McKay, and too many others in mind. There is a world of difference between operating out of a desire to “pay it forward” and doing something because “someone did it for you, so you should do it for others.” Ultimately, the former comes from a vision of what one wants to contribute to the world and the latter springs from obligation. I am too busy trying to make a contribution to worry that if I don’t do something when others think I should, then someone will see me as less than generous and therefore as less than a good person.

Let’s get real: most of us are going to work hard and “give back” no matter what. Not wanting to “give back” is not most women’s problem. Our problem is giving to our own detriment. It is not a question of whether you will work hard. You will. The question is whether you will spend most of your time doing work that energizes you and that aligns with your vision for yourself or will you work on things that drain you and have little to do with your vision.

When faced with this choice, a powerful truth emerges: you need to have a vision for yourself! Surprise, surprise: that takes work, too. Often, we let shoulds replace doing the work of figuring out what our vision is. Remember, you will work hard regardless, but developing one’s vision seems to be the work that some of us would rather not do. It is far easier to let shoulds lead the way and then judge those who don’t bow to shoulds as selfish and self-centered.

What does this refusal to should all over myself look like in practical terms? Above all, it manifests as a commitment to drawing boundaries and saying “no.” Is this easy? Of course not, especially not in academia, where everything is structured around favors and unpaid labor. The difficulty does not make it any less crucial, however.

Saying “no” is like exercise: no one can do it for you.

When do you say “no”? The answer must come from your vision for yourself and the contribution you want to make and from knowing your limits. If a task does not fit into your vision or it is beyond your capacity, then saying “no” is the sane and healthy response. Period.

Just as you need a vision for yourself, you also need to know yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, etc. I learned a long time ago that I am simply not smart enough to give my time and energy indiscriminately and still do work that makes me proud. I know a few people who can do precisely that. They seem to give, give, give to everyone and everything, and their work is still brilliant and thorough. I can’t do that. To me, there’s no shame in knowing that or admitting that. I also know that I’m not good at lowering my personal standards for my work. Given those realities, “no” is crucial.

Because saying “no” is so difficult, it is important to remember that it is not someone else’s job to censor themselves by not asking you to do things. I always tell people: “Never hesitate to ask if you think I can help with something. It’s your job to take initiative by drawing into yourself the resources and support that you need. It’s my job to say ‘no’ if I need to.”

Don’t take the approach that someone is putting you in a bad situation by asking. They are just asking. It is not their fault if you haven’t learned how to say “no” when necessary.

I know that I am advocating for an attitude and approach that is a privilege to adopt, but I embrace it as a gift that was hard won by those who came before me. I am determined to use my improved position—for which so many women paid—to benefit myself and others. I am sharing what I believe will improve the quality of our lives and will thereby position us to contribute our best. By encouraging you to avoid should-ing all over yourself, I aim to open possibilities rather than simply pass down shoulds as if they are a heritage worthy of the sacrifices of our forebears.

As a wise woman recently said to me: “My generation made those mistakes. The least you could do is make new ones.”

 

**Title phrase comes from Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City.

__________________________________________________

Koritha Mitchell is a literary historian and cultural critic who specializes in African American literature, racial violence throughout U.S. literature and contemporary culture, and black drama & performance. She examines how texts, both written and performed, have helped terrorized families and communities to survive and thrive. She is author of the award-winning book Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890 – 1930 (University of Illinois Press, 2011). Mitchell earned her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland-College Park and is currently associate professor of English at Ohio State University. Mitchell’s essay “James Baldwin, Performance Theorist, Sings the Blues for Mister Charlie” appears in the March 2012 issue of American Quarterly. She maintains a blog, Kori’s Commentary, and she recently launched Black LIT Radio, a 10-minute monthly radio segment on African American literature. On Twitter, she’s @ProfKori.

Tags: , ,

68 Responses to Should-ing All Over Ourselves

  1. Jeanne Milliard on November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you so much for this. I will share his wirh my best friend.

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Very much appreciated!! So glad it resonates!

      • Laverne Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Well, I just finish reading the article. I don’t know why I kept thinking you were talking about me. For some reason, not know to me, I kept hearing the word OUCH!

        Of course it is a great article!!! actually just this weekend, there I was should-ing all over myself. while I was in the moment I was beyond upset and all I could hear was your words in my head. I do have to do better or I will be gone before my time.

        • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

          It was hitting you all up side the head, huh? Well, I didn’t have any one person in mind while writing, so that just shows how much we all feel these pressures. But I definitely am speaking directly to you when I say that I don’t want you gone any time soon!

  2. Jeanne Milliard on November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you so much for this. I will share his wirh my best friend.

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Very much appreciated!! So glad it resonates!

      • Laverne Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Well, I just finish reading the article. I don’t know why I kept thinking you were talking about me. For some reason, not know to me, I kept hearing the word OUCH!

        Of course it is a great article!!! actually just this weekend, there I was should-ing all over myself. while I was in the moment I was beyond upset and all I could hear was your words in my head. I do have to do better or I will be gone before my time.

        • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

          It was hitting you all up side the head, huh? Well, I didn’t have any one person in mind while writing, so that just shows how much we all feel these pressures. But I definitely am speaking directly to you when I say that I don’t want you gone any time soon!

  3. Jeanne Milliard on November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you so much for this. I will share his wirh my best friend.

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Very much appreciated!! So glad it resonates!

      • Laverne Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Well, I just finish reading the article. I don’t know why I kept thinking you were talking about me. For some reason, not know to me, I kept hearing the word OUCH!

        Of course it is a great article!!! actually just this weekend, there I was should-ing all over myself. while I was in the moment I was beyond upset and all I could hear was your words in my head. I do have to do better or I will be gone before my time.

        • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

          It was hitting you all up side the head, huh? Well, I didn’t have any one person in mind while writing, so that just shows how much we all feel these pressures. But I definitely am speaking directly to you when I say that I don’t want you gone any time soon!

  4. Jeanne Milliard on November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I really enjoyed your article. Thank you so much for this. I will share his wirh my best friend.

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Very much appreciated!! So glad it resonates!

      • Laverne Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Well, I just finish reading the article. I don’t know why I kept thinking you were talking about me. For some reason, not know to me, I kept hearing the word OUCH!

        Of course it is a great article!!! actually just this weekend, there I was should-ing all over myself. while I was in the moment I was beyond upset and all I could hear was your words in my head. I do have to do better or I will be gone before my time.

        • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:34 am

          It was hitting you all up side the head, huh? Well, I didn’t have any one person in mind while writing, so that just shows how much we all feel these pressures. But I definitely am speaking directly to you when I say that I don’t want you gone any time soon!

  5. Elizabeth on November 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for this post! What a way to start the week and think more deeply about my approach to life. From one Ford Fellow to another I think you are amazing! Love the title!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

      SO APPRECIATED! Being a Ford fellow absolutely changed my life, and it continues to shape my journey. I feel like anything positive that you might see in me wouldn’t be there if I weren’t part of the Ford community. I’m so glad to contribute to your healthy journey in more ways than one!

  6. Elizabeth on November 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for this post! What a way to start the week and think more deeply about my approach to life. From one Ford Fellow to another I think you are amazing! Love the title!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

      SO APPRECIATED! Being a Ford fellow absolutely changed my life, and it continues to shape my journey. I feel like anything positive that you might see in me wouldn’t be there if I weren’t part of the Ford community. I’m so glad to contribute to your healthy journey in more ways than one!

  7. Elizabeth on November 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for this post! What a way to start the week and think more deeply about my approach to life. From one Ford Fellow to another I think you are amazing! Love the title!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

      SO APPRECIATED! Being a Ford fellow absolutely changed my life, and it continues to shape my journey. I feel like anything positive that you might see in me wouldn’t be there if I weren’t part of the Ford community. I’m so glad to contribute to your healthy journey in more ways than one!

  8. Elizabeth on November 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Thank you so much for this post! What a way to start the week and think more deeply about my approach to life. From one Ford Fellow to another I think you are amazing! Love the title!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

      SO APPRECIATED! Being a Ford fellow absolutely changed my life, and it continues to shape my journey. I feel like anything positive that you might see in me wouldn’t be there if I weren’t part of the Ford community. I’m so glad to contribute to your healthy journey in more ways than one!

  9. Crystal Fleming on November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m not sure what else to say except “amen” … It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our own sanity, health and happiness and the ability to set boundaries and say “no” is certainly part of that. I am not sure how anyone could disagree?

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Many thanks, Crystal! I’m so glad it resonates with you and that it feels so right! That’s a victory because women are encouraged to feel that we’re wrong whenever we try to draw boundaries.

      Still, I feel the need to underscore my understanding of one issue as it is articulated in your very supportive remarks. As much as I’m arguing in this piece for individual responsibility, I am also very aware of the need to be on guard whenever individual responsibility becomes our focus. The fact that *The Feminist Wire* created this forum is important precisely because the issue of women’s health highlights the fraught interplay between individual decision making and that which very much affects one’s health but is beyond one’s control. So, even as I am speaking in this piece about the need for women to take ownership over what they *can* control (“Saying ‘no’ is like exercise; no one can do it for you”), I am trying to do so with an awareness of what makes needing to take that control so crucial: the fact that we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say “no”—not because we are misunderstanding something but because we are very accurately interpreting the messages that bombard us. (Crystal, it’s quite likely that you already saw that attempt at balancing in the piece, but I don’t want even one other reader to miss it. It was a tricky balancing act as I tried to make the case for this particular attitude and approach. Indeed, the difficulty only underscores how important the topic of this Feminist Wire forum is!) Thanks again for your support!! I’m sending you good energy!

      • Crystal Fleming on November 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

        Another Amen – and absolutely.. Individual responsibility and contextual constraint are not either/or issues, it’s always both/and.. I think you do a great job of balancing and framing your argument.

        Yes, we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say no for real, structural reasons – certainly. You explain this beautifully.

        Bravo!

        C.

  10. Crystal Fleming on November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m not sure what else to say except “amen” … It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our own sanity, health and happiness and the ability to set boundaries and say “no” is certainly part of that. I am not sure how anyone could disagree?

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Many thanks, Crystal! I’m so glad it resonates with you and that it feels so right! That’s a victory because women are encouraged to feel that we’re wrong whenever we try to draw boundaries.

      Still, I feel the need to underscore my understanding of one issue as it is articulated in your very supportive remarks. As much as I’m arguing in this piece for individual responsibility, I am also very aware of the need to be on guard whenever individual responsibility becomes our focus. The fact that *The Feminist Wire* created this forum is important precisely because the issue of women’s health highlights the fraught interplay between individual decision making and that which very much affects one’s health but is beyond one’s control. So, even as I am speaking in this piece about the need for women to take ownership over what they *can* control (“Saying ‘no’ is like exercise; no one can do it for you”), I am trying to do so with an awareness of what makes needing to take that control so crucial: the fact that we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say “no”—not because we are misunderstanding something but because we are very accurately interpreting the messages that bombard us. (Crystal, it’s quite likely that you already saw that attempt at balancing in the piece, but I don’t want even one other reader to miss it. It was a tricky balancing act as I tried to make the case for this particular attitude and approach. Indeed, the difficulty only underscores how important the topic of this Feminist Wire forum is!) Thanks again for your support!! I’m sending you good energy!

      • Crystal Fleming on November 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

        Another Amen – and absolutely.. Individual responsibility and contextual constraint are not either/or issues, it’s always both/and.. I think you do a great job of balancing and framing your argument.

        Yes, we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say no for real, structural reasons – certainly. You explain this beautifully.

        Bravo!

        C.

  11. Crystal Fleming on November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m not sure what else to say except “amen” … It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our own sanity, health and happiness and the ability to set boundaries and say “no” is certainly part of that. I am not sure how anyone could disagree?

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Many thanks, Crystal! I’m so glad it resonates with you and that it feels so right! That’s a victory because women are encouraged to feel that we’re wrong whenever we try to draw boundaries.

      Still, I feel the need to underscore my understanding of one issue as it is articulated in your very supportive remarks. As much as I’m arguing in this piece for individual responsibility, I am also very aware of the need to be on guard whenever individual responsibility becomes our focus. The fact that *The Feminist Wire* created this forum is important precisely because the issue of women’s health highlights the fraught interplay between individual decision making and that which very much affects one’s health but is beyond one’s control. So, even as I am speaking in this piece about the need for women to take ownership over what they *can* control (“Saying ‘no’ is like exercise; no one can do it for you”), I am trying to do so with an awareness of what makes needing to take that control so crucial: the fact that we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say “no”—not because we are misunderstanding something but because we are very accurately interpreting the messages that bombard us. (Crystal, it’s quite likely that you already saw that attempt at balancing in the piece, but I don’t want even one other reader to miss it. It was a tricky balancing act as I tried to make the case for this particular attitude and approach. Indeed, the difficulty only underscores how important the topic of this Feminist Wire forum is!) Thanks again for your support!! I’m sending you good energy!

      • Crystal Fleming on November 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

        Another Amen – and absolutely.. Individual responsibility and contextual constraint are not either/or issues, it’s always both/and.. I think you do a great job of balancing and framing your argument.

        Yes, we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say no for real, structural reasons – certainly. You explain this beautifully.

        Bravo!

        C.

  12. Crystal Fleming on November 5, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I’m not sure what else to say except “amen” … It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our own sanity, health and happiness and the ability to set boundaries and say “no” is certainly part of that. I am not sure how anyone could disagree?

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Many thanks, Crystal! I’m so glad it resonates with you and that it feels so right! That’s a victory because women are encouraged to feel that we’re wrong whenever we try to draw boundaries.

      Still, I feel the need to underscore my understanding of one issue as it is articulated in your very supportive remarks. As much as I’m arguing in this piece for individual responsibility, I am also very aware of the need to be on guard whenever individual responsibility becomes our focus. The fact that *The Feminist Wire* created this forum is important precisely because the issue of women’s health highlights the fraught interplay between individual decision making and that which very much affects one’s health but is beyond one’s control. So, even as I am speaking in this piece about the need for women to take ownership over what they *can* control (“Saying ‘no’ is like exercise; no one can do it for you”), I am trying to do so with an awareness of what makes needing to take that control so crucial: the fact that we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say “no”—not because we are misunderstanding something but because we are very accurately interpreting the messages that bombard us. (Crystal, it’s quite likely that you already saw that attempt at balancing in the piece, but I don’t want even one other reader to miss it. It was a tricky balancing act as I tried to make the case for this particular attitude and approach. Indeed, the difficulty only underscores how important the topic of this Feminist Wire forum is!) Thanks again for your support!! I’m sending you good energy!

      • Crystal Fleming on November 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

        Another Amen – and absolutely.. Individual responsibility and contextual constraint are not either/or issues, it’s always both/and.. I think you do a great job of balancing and framing your argument.

        Yes, we are especially vulnerable to not feeling empowered to say no for real, structural reasons – certainly. You explain this beautifully.

        Bravo!

        C.

  13. aliyyah inaya on November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    thank you so much for this, Koritha! this post comes on a monday in november — at the beginning of the week and during my birth month. what a great moment and opportunity to revisit those necessary boundaries and make sure that they remain in full effect! thank you for the brave and eloquent reminder to do so!

    love and all good things,
    aliyyah

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

      BEAUTIFUL! I love the idea that this came as a sort of gift to you, Aliyyah! I am thrilled to help us all remember to be good to ourselves.

  14. aliyyah inaya on November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    thank you so much for this, Koritha! this post comes on a monday in november — at the beginning of the week and during my birth month. what a great moment and opportunity to revisit those necessary boundaries and make sure that they remain in full effect! thank you for the brave and eloquent reminder to do so!

    love and all good things,
    aliyyah

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

      BEAUTIFUL! I love the idea that this came as a sort of gift to you, Aliyyah! I am thrilled to help us all remember to be good to ourselves.

  15. aliyyah inaya on November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    thank you so much for this, Koritha! this post comes on a monday in november — at the beginning of the week and during my birth month. what a great moment and opportunity to revisit those necessary boundaries and make sure that they remain in full effect! thank you for the brave and eloquent reminder to do so!

    love and all good things,
    aliyyah

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

      BEAUTIFUL! I love the idea that this came as a sort of gift to you, Aliyyah! I am thrilled to help us all remember to be good to ourselves.

  16. aliyyah inaya on November 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    thank you so much for this, Koritha! this post comes on a monday in november — at the beginning of the week and during my birth month. what a great moment and opportunity to revisit those necessary boundaries and make sure that they remain in full effect! thank you for the brave and eloquent reminder to do so!

    love and all good things,
    aliyyah

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 8:37 am

      BEAUTIFUL! I love the idea that this came as a sort of gift to you, Aliyyah! I am thrilled to help us all remember to be good to ourselves.

  17. Sandy Alexandre on November 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    WORD to yours truly! YES. I inevitably end up frustrated with myself as well as the quality of my contributions when I spread myself too thin; I like to fancy myself a contributor, for the most part, of “thick” things — i.e., useful, suggestive, thoughtful, and intellectually substantial offerings. I can’t be true to who I am or to my aspirations for myself if I’m trying to be a Jackie of all shoulds. Thanks, Koritha.

    But there’s one should that I have allowed myself lately: To praise your book every chance I get. Wow! Just outstanding! Bravo! Take good care. Sandy

  18. Sandy Alexandre on November 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    WORD to yours truly! YES. I inevitably end up frustrated with myself as well as the quality of my contributions when I spread myself too thin; I like to fancy myself a contributor, for the most part, of “thick” things — i.e., useful, suggestive, thoughtful, and intellectually substantial offerings. I can’t be true to who I am or to my aspirations for myself if I’m trying to be a Jackie of all shoulds. Thanks, Koritha.

    But there’s one should that I have allowed myself lately: To praise your book every chance I get. Wow! Just outstanding! Bravo! Take good care. Sandy

  19. Sandy Alexandre on November 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    WORD to yours truly! YES. I inevitably end up frustrated with myself as well as the quality of my contributions when I spread myself too thin; I like to fancy myself a contributor, for the most part, of “thick” things — i.e., useful, suggestive, thoughtful, and intellectually substantial offerings. I can’t be true to who I am or to my aspirations for myself if I’m trying to be a Jackie of all shoulds. Thanks, Koritha.

    But there’s one should that I have allowed myself lately: To praise your book every chance I get. Wow! Just outstanding! Bravo! Take good care. Sandy

  20. Sandy Alexandre on November 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    WORD to yours truly! YES. I inevitably end up frustrated with myself as well as the quality of my contributions when I spread myself too thin; I like to fancy myself a contributor, for the most part, of “thick” things — i.e., useful, suggestive, thoughtful, and intellectually substantial offerings. I can’t be true to who I am or to my aspirations for myself if I’m trying to be a Jackie of all shoulds. Thanks, Koritha.

    But there’s one should that I have allowed myself lately: To praise your book every chance I get. Wow! Just outstanding! Bravo! Take good care. Sandy

  21. Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Sandy, what a gift you’ve given me! In light of how (surprisingly) seldom we’ve ended up seeing each other in recent years, I love the idea that I managed to be of service to you in this way. AND, I’m blown away by the compliment on my book, Living with Lynching. I recently came across the table of contents for the Spring 2013 issue of SIGNS and saw that you reviewed my book for them. To have this glimpse into what you thought about it is a nice boost. Something to feel good about while I try to keep myself out of knots over this election and all the craziness happening here in Ohio. Thank you!

    • Sandy Alexandre on November 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

      For the book you’ve written, ONLY compliments would make sense as a rational & commensurate response to its craftsmanship. Its message is as resounding as it is important & enlightening. And 4 days later, I hope you’re singing: “No more knots, no more knots” to the rhythm of “4 more years, 4 more years!”

      • Koritha Mitchell on November 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

        WOW, thank you so much, Sandy! I really wanted to do the playwrights and the communities that they represent justice. Given your expertise, you’re helping me feel like I did that. Yes, though the resistance from the GOP doesn’t seem to be letting up (even after a landslide victory), I am quite relieved that we’ll all get another term. (But, of course, it’s hard for me to forget that winning last time gained President Obama 4 years of unprecedented disrespect for the office he holds.) Still, as one of my partner’s former students said on election night: “Tonight is a victory for gay Americans, African Americans, female Americans, Hispanic Americans, Polynesian Americans, transgender Americans, Native Americans, Indian Americans, East Asian Americans, immigrant Americans, and Americans with medical degrees. It’s also a victory for white male Americans, but it looks like we need some convincing.”

  22. Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Sandy, what a gift you’ve given me! In light of how (surprisingly) seldom we’ve ended up seeing each other in recent years, I love the idea that I managed to be of service to you in this way. AND, I’m blown away by the compliment on my book, Living with Lynching. I recently came across the table of contents for the Spring 2013 issue of SIGNS and saw that you reviewed my book for them. To have this glimpse into what you thought about it is a nice boost. Something to feel good about while I try to keep myself out of knots over this election and all the craziness happening here in Ohio. Thank you!

    • Sandy Alexandre on November 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

      For the book you’ve written, ONLY compliments would make sense as a rational & commensurate response to its craftsmanship. Its message is as resounding as it is important & enlightening. And 4 days later, I hope you’re singing: “No more knots, no more knots” to the rhythm of “4 more years, 4 more years!”

      • Koritha Mitchell on November 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

        WOW, thank you so much, Sandy! I really wanted to do the playwrights and the communities that they represent justice. Given your expertise, you’re helping me feel like I did that. Yes, though the resistance from the GOP doesn’t seem to be letting up (even after a landslide victory), I am quite relieved that we’ll all get another term. (But, of course, it’s hard for me to forget that winning last time gained President Obama 4 years of unprecedented disrespect for the office he holds.) Still, as one of my partner’s former students said on election night: “Tonight is a victory for gay Americans, African Americans, female Americans, Hispanic Americans, Polynesian Americans, transgender Americans, Native Americans, Indian Americans, East Asian Americans, immigrant Americans, and Americans with medical degrees. It’s also a victory for white male Americans, but it looks like we need some convincing.”

  23. Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Sandy, what a gift you’ve given me! In light of how (surprisingly) seldom we’ve ended up seeing each other in recent years, I love the idea that I managed to be of service to you in this way. AND, I’m blown away by the compliment on my book, Living with Lynching. I recently came across the table of contents for the Spring 2013 issue of SIGNS and saw that you reviewed my book for them. To have this glimpse into what you thought about it is a nice boost. Something to feel good about while I try to keep myself out of knots over this election and all the craziness happening here in Ohio. Thank you!

    • Sandy Alexandre on November 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

      For the book you’ve written, ONLY compliments would make sense as a rational & commensurate response to its craftsmanship. Its message is as resounding as it is important & enlightening. And 4 days later, I hope you’re singing: “No more knots, no more knots” to the rhythm of “4 more years, 4 more years!”

      • Koritha Mitchell on November 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

        WOW, thank you so much, Sandy! I really wanted to do the playwrights and the communities that they represent justice. Given your expertise, you’re helping me feel like I did that. Yes, though the resistance from the GOP doesn’t seem to be letting up (even after a landslide victory), I am quite relieved that we’ll all get another term. (But, of course, it’s hard for me to forget that winning last time gained President Obama 4 years of unprecedented disrespect for the office he holds.) Still, as one of my partner’s former students said on election night: “Tonight is a victory for gay Americans, African Americans, female Americans, Hispanic Americans, Polynesian Americans, transgender Americans, Native Americans, Indian Americans, East Asian Americans, immigrant Americans, and Americans with medical degrees. It’s also a victory for white male Americans, but it looks like we need some convincing.”

  24. Koritha Mitchell on November 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Sandy, what a gift you’ve given me! In light of how (surprisingly) seldom we’ve ended up seeing each other in recent years, I love the idea that I managed to be of service to you in this way. AND, I’m blown away by the compliment on my book, Living with Lynching. I recently came across the table of contents for the Spring 2013 issue of SIGNS and saw that you reviewed my book for them. To have this glimpse into what you thought about it is a nice boost. Something to feel good about while I try to keep myself out of knots over this election and all the craziness happening here in Ohio. Thank you!

    • Sandy Alexandre on November 10, 2012 at 10:55 am

      For the book you’ve written, ONLY compliments would make sense as a rational & commensurate response to its craftsmanship. Its message is as resounding as it is important & enlightening. And 4 days later, I hope you’re singing: “No more knots, no more knots” to the rhythm of “4 more years, 4 more years!”

      • Koritha Mitchell on November 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

        WOW, thank you so much, Sandy! I really wanted to do the playwrights and the communities that they represent justice. Given your expertise, you’re helping me feel like I did that. Yes, though the resistance from the GOP doesn’t seem to be letting up (even after a landslide victory), I am quite relieved that we’ll all get another term. (But, of course, it’s hard for me to forget that winning last time gained President Obama 4 years of unprecedented disrespect for the office he holds.) Still, as one of my partner’s former students said on election night: “Tonight is a victory for gay Americans, African Americans, female Americans, Hispanic Americans, Polynesian Americans, transgender Americans, Native Americans, Indian Americans, East Asian Americans, immigrant Americans, and Americans with medical degrees. It’s also a victory for white male Americans, but it looks like we need some convincing.”

  25. Kathleen Sterling on November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. We can never hear it too often. While I was reading this piece, at one point I misread “should-er” for “shoulder,” and I thought that it was an apt mistake!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Apt, indeed! Thank you for sharing that!

  26. Kathleen Sterling on November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. We can never hear it too often. While I was reading this piece, at one point I misread “should-er” for “shoulder,” and I thought that it was an apt mistake!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Apt, indeed! Thank you for sharing that!

  27. Kathleen Sterling on November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. We can never hear it too often. While I was reading this piece, at one point I misread “should-er” for “shoulder,” and I thought that it was an apt mistake!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Apt, indeed! Thank you for sharing that!

  28. Kathleen Sterling on November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this reminder. We can never hear it too often. While I was reading this piece, at one point I misread “should-er” for “shoulder,” and I thought that it was an apt mistake!

    • Koritha Mitchell on November 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

      Apt, indeed! Thank you for sharing that!

Follow The Feminist Wire

Arts & Culture

  • “Paws” by Tracy Burkholder tracy

    Paws   In sixth grade, I started to envy certain girls’ hands. Not always manicured, but always neat. Fingers thin and smooth. These hands gently freed sheets of paper from their metal spirals and lifted loops of hair to more beautiful perches. Lunch trays floated inside their gentle grip while [...]

  • 3 Poems by Holly Mitchell holly

    Slipping Under   Like a ghost, I prepare a bath behind a door   that hasn’t locked long as I remember.   When my mother or grandmother knocks at the open door,   I obscure what they call my “new breasts” under the soap water   and focus on the [...]

  • Excerpts from Damnation by Janice Lee janice

    CONFESSION Sometimes one willingly enters a dark and empty space, the creaking of the loose boards below, the phantom moonlight above. · I had a dream that I was carrying a wounded deer in my arms. He lay there limp, depending on me completely and solely for the permission to [...]