Taking cue from Michele Cliff (1980) a radical identity praxis serves to “[claim] an identity they taught me to despise.” This work must take place at the root – which is how radical is defined – transformation at the root. As Black folx in America, our roots have, very simply, been cut. Obviously not in terms of DNA – which is indelible – but the tangible hi/stories that are shared branch to branch, creating connectivity and identity across generations. Resolving these cuts for Black Americans, requires reflection and action – a praxis (Freire, 1970/2000.)
Origins of Radical Identity Praxis
Radical Identity Praxis [RIP] began as a writing curriculum to support identity affirmation and community engagement. It has developed into an ethnographic journey of four movements toward an everyday practice of liberation for and with Black folx. RIP is rooted in Black storytellers, critical race theory, Black feminism, and considers liberatory education frameworks. RIP unapologetically disrupts anti-Black racism and is necessary to affirm and heal the intersectional/generational identities of Black folx, making the claim that #BlackFolxAreRich. Upon the creation of an LLC, it has developed to serve a three-fold purpose: consulting, researching (see RIP KitsTM), and archiving (see RIP BooksTM). All are predicated upon the Movement Suite noted below.
Digging through Crates
My mother was diligent in keeping journals, holiday cards, birthday favors, favorite outfits, and of course pictures. Early 2021, I finally got the nerve to digitize 30+ home videos that I'd been carrying with me for over a decade.
Seeing myself, alongside elders and cousins who are no longer here (including my dad,) and more cousins who are parents and grandparents now – is absolute gold that can never be measured for its full value. I am overwhelmingly grateful to document these histories and to work with other families to do the same. No matter how small or great the resources, we all have stories to hear and tell.
Beasley Academic Center (Chicago, Illinois.) 1988.
Through the RIP journey, I – along with the individuals and families that participate, will collect hours of interview data with parents, othermothers/fathers, cousins, even neighbors. Additionally, we will gather photos and written archives. Each collection is a gift to the individual/family that participates in the RIP journey. They will elect which portions of their collection will be donated to the RIP archives (including, but not limited to, photos, audio files, transcripts, digital recreations.)
"Folx" is used to honor intersectional, non-binary, people and experiences. "Rich" is qualified through the storytelling, time invested, and detailed archival process to create an intergenerational collection that evidences full and deeply textured lives throughout the Black Diaspora. The first (pilot) families of the RIP journey come from Chicago, Atlanta and the Carolinas.
Creating an opportunity where I can sit down and talk with my mom and uncles about their experiences growing up in South Carolina has made me and our entire family stronger.