9 November 2020

Dear Everyone:

Perhaps there was some dancing and noise-making in the streets for you this past weekend! I wonder if there wasn’t for you as for me, exhaustion and relief and joy and nervousness and (however cautious) hope and confoundedness all at once. I expect many of you share the immense gratitude I feel for everyone who did and continue to do the heavy lifting around this election – the poll workers and canvassers and USPS employees and those who waited in line and those who made it possible for others to wait among them – as well as for Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Baker and Shirley Chisholm and Stacey Abrams and the legions of other Black feminists and coconspirators who, as Erica R. Edwards and Sherie Randolph put it in a Washington Post article [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com] published today, “deepen[ed] our understanding of the importance of diverse coalitions and producing a vision of democracy expansive enough for all.” Creating and holding space for all of us- yes!  I hope you’re able to find or create a foothold in this big and visionary project on this unsettlingly warm and startlingly beautiful (here in the NYC area) Monday; I’m so glad to be in the thick of it in your company.

With the COVID numbers increasing again, with the state’s withholding of resources necessary to help us adequately remediate the effects of pandemic on CUNY’s communities (see the CUNY Chancellor’s fiscal and budget update message [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com]from last week), when “in your company” will refer to physical proximity again feels ever receding. I spent a few days working at the GC last week – my first days in the office since March – and it was good to be there and wholly disquieting (I missed you all distinctly) and especially so with the first floor windows and doors boarded up. One of the pieces we’re reading for my class today – an essay by Christopher T. Fan [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com] – invokes Lauren Berlant’s theorization of “aspirational normativity,” which, he explains, is “a mode of neoliberal survival that attempts to make continual personal and social crisis ‘feel ordinary’” (see Cruel Optimism). While “normal” wasn’t in any way adequate and might be recognized to have given rise to the proliferating and ongoing and decimating attenuations of the present, I wonder if we might not repurpose “aspirational normativity” such that it refers to the version of “normal” we might get behind. I don’t know if the election results will get us there, but would like to imagine – and would like for us collectively to imagine and work toward – a “return” to the GC, to our lounge and seminar rooms, to unboarded windows and elevators stuffed with people, as part of the realization of a much better normal…our lounge, our program, as the empty stage of José Esteban Muñoz’s theorizing, harboring utopic potential…

(Can you see, this is me talking/writing my way through the enjambed sense of today toward a foothold…?!)

I am as always grateful to those who create opportunities for us to be in each other’s company virtually and otherwise, including most immediately Talia Schaffer and Tanya Agathocleous, for proposing the Friday Forum featuring Professor Supritha Rajan this week!  Please see here [nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com] for details and link to register.

I think that’s it for now, except to offer abundant well wishes, as always, accompanied as ever by gratitude.

Kandice

One comment on “toward a better normal!

  • uations of the present, I wonder if we might not repurpose “aspirational normativity” such that it refers to the version of “normal” we might get behind. I don’t know if the election results will get us there, but would like to imagine – and would like for us collectively to imagine and work toward – a “r

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