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Root Work Journal - Convening in the Ark - Volume 1, Issue 1

a wake work for 2020: on meeting black grief with tenderness   

Ree Botts, University of California, Berkeley 


Osceola Ward, Bayview Hunter's Point Adventure Club 





a wake work for 2020: on meeting black grief with tenderness is a call into grief for communities of Black folks working to survive Quarantine 2020. We meditate on what wake work looks and feels like in this particular season of Black suffering, as we grapple with the weight of quotidian Black death and the possibilities for the restoration of sacred Black lives. Using a methodology of reflexive poetics, we paint portraits of intimate ontology, inner worlds, and unraveling. We use repetition as a tool for deep emphasis, and write in and out of I and We statements to illustrate the multitude of voices present within this text - the collective love of we, the individual I, the communal fight of us, and the sacred oneness of Spirit. We work to reimagine our relationship with reading, writing and words in order to reject performative notions of intellect that often divorce us from the intimacy so necessary for engagement with the Black intellectual tradition, particularly the subsets of our tradition that center our imaginaries of fugitivity beyond suffering. We acknowledge that, in order to write care into the wake, we must first center language that makes space for our affective experiences. By refusing the gaze of academia and reclaiming our intimacy to education beyond the project of schooling, we free ourselves up to write creatively, illegibly, and in dissonance. In fact, we see our writing as a fugitive practice in and of itself, one that allows us to reclaim our voices to map out new sites of marronage where we might nestle ourselves up into alternative scapes of freedom.

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