Cafe Book Essay Prompts AFAM 40C, 2020 (Law & Martins / Patton / Gumbs / et al)

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Assignment requirements for all prompts:

  • Contains 1200-1500 words
  • Demonstrates close reading
  • Has a descriptive title
  • Uses three non-consecutive chapters of source text with one minimum quotation from each chapter used
  • One minimum quotation from all secondary sources
  • Answers prompt question(s) with a thesis, includes page numbers, name, works cited, and general MLA guidelines.

1. Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind

Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind presents a number of specific, concrete ways of collectivizing childcare and support within Social Justice Movements, prioritizing communal interdependence over individual responsibility. It also, however, urges us to consider, how children have valuable contributions to activism and living generally: “when children are involved […] it is their struggle too” (44). In keeping with an insistence on life as beyond “my life” or individual body, children are often barred from participation in life itself.

Using some of the concrete suggestions for activist spaces in Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind, how might these suggestions be adapted to include children’s involvement in “life” in another context (i.e. work, school, politics, etc)? Additionally, utilize either the Eze, Cesaire, or Bhattacharyya readings as the secondary source to demonstrate how the “myth of independence […] is a capitalism-induced illusion” opposed to this vision of collective, interdependent life (7)?

2. Spare the Kids

Stacy Patton writes in Spare the Kids:

The biggest tragedy of all is that even if blacks…in America writ large woke up tomorrow and decided to stop whupping their kids, it wouldn’t cure the firmly entrenched racist systems that will keep them [vulnerable to and] living in substandard housing, living below the poverty line, attending crumbling schools, and being locked up…. So what do we gain by not beating them? …. It will make our homes the one place that is a safe haven for our black children (191).

If you were trying to be influenced by this quotation what would you need to change to make the household of the future a safe haven for black children (outside carcerality, outside criminalizing black parents)? Use Twine, Motsemme, or Sharpe as the secondary source.

3. Revolutionary Mothering

Joy James writes in “The Womb of Western Theory”:

Captive Maternals can be either biological females or those feminized into caretaking and consumption…For Captive Maternals, the chit-chat of the little cuts and rat-like gnawing is the norm; they face verbal slander and intimidation, physical violence, domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and contempt, policing in schools, jobs, society, and prisons, from every sector. Still, it is not their victimization that marks them; it is their productivity and its consumption. Throughout history, Captive Maternals provided the reproductive and productive labor to stabilize culture and wealth. (255-6).

How does Revolutionary Mothering take up this two-sided reading of maternity that James highlights and how does Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ chapter “m/other ourselves” respond or trouble James’ configuration? Using two or three chapters alongside James and Gumbs notions of maternity, compare and contrast mothering and motherhood. How do these different but overlapping notions of motherhood appear in the chapters you have chosen? Use DHS: Give Us Back Our Children as the secondary source.


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