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9:15-10:00am Wednesday September 9th

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Stanning Our Girlhoods: Black & Latina Girls, Pop Music & Embodied Knowledges 



Black and Latina girls’ experiences with sexuality, music, fandom and artistic practice are often viewed as unworthy of support and met with surveillance and moral panic (Hernandez et. al, 2015). To refuse the systemic and cultural disciplining of their sexualities and imagine new worlds, Black and Latina girls often turn to music and popular culture to express themselves. In this roundtable, Black and Latina girlhood artist-scholars will discuss how girls use music to explore embodied knowledges and erotics. Rather than focus on injury and gendered forms of correction--we hope to spark a conversation on how we stan our girlhoods, and those of the poor and working-class girls of color we engage. We place emphasis on what we learn from girls’ fandom and cultural production, and how these stem from a long and proud history of erotic truth telling (Davis 1998; Carby 1992)--from Ma Rainey to La Goony Chonga. We propose a 120-minute roundtable with girlhood scholar-artist Jillian Hernandez serving as a moderator.

The panelists, who will each make brief and informal remarks, will discuss the modes through which they work with girls to co-create music, art, and everyday culture, and how they variously approach engaging their praxis in scholarly knowledge production.

Blair Ebony Smith will speak about her participation in the Black girl organizing collective Saving Our Lives Hear Truths (SOLHOT), in particular how Black girls negotiate themselves in popular music and ways they respond creatively and sonically. She will engage the audience in listening and discussion of songs/sounds heard and made with Black girls in SOLHOT that reveal their complex and embodied knowledge. Blair will explore songs from a playlist and music made with Black girls that reveal their lived experience.

Anya Wallace will turn to Black girlhood as a theoretical mode of exploring space and time, via P.T.A.F., a rap group of 3 Black girls from Crenshaw, Los Angeles, who became a popular music phenomenon following the viral circulation of their 2012 d.i.y. music video “Boss Ass Bitch,” The lyrics of P.T.A.F.’s “Boss Ass Bitch” are explicit and demonstrate that the young performers are aware of their sexual selves. Wallace is concerned with Girlhood as a vehicle for how these performers navigated ridicule, harassment, and violent commentary in response to their raunch aesthetics (Hernandez 2014), yet fearlessly persisted. Their work attracted the support and engagement of mega star Nicki Minaj who also taps into Girlhood and play as modes of emodying knowledge(s) through sonic pleasures.

Yessica Garcia Hernandez will explore how Jenni Rivera girl fans negotiate age restrictive spaces like casinos and use the space of parking-lots to practice their fandom. She will discuss “all ages” venues like palenques, rodeos, andinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States that have allowed MeXicana girls the opportunity to create their ethnic identity and agitate traditional gender norms. Moreover, she will speak about the use of music in the Rebel Quinceañera Collective (RQC) girls’ space.