Black Girl Voltron and My Fear of Black Girl Cyborgs


Yesterday on Tumblr, I was having a conversation with @latinegrasexologist around some of my ideas about and my resistance to Black Girls as Cyborgs. This conversation came about as I was discussing some of the tension that I have been feeling around blogging around digital Black feminisms. On one hand I feel uniquely suited to do so, on the other hand I am hesitant to mix up something that is work and interesting, with something that is work, but also an escape and joy.

Ultimately, @latinegrasexologist encouraged me to think about how Black girls can claim cyborg status, and what it means about how I have used my blog as space that I have claimed as my own, as a space where I feel free, as a space that belongs to me, as a space where I have explored elements of my interior life publicly.

Then holy shit this morning it all came together. Walking to my newly discovered writing place, I realize that the thing that I am most interested in is the conversation that occurs when Black women cultural workers and Black women web developers and computer scientists get in a room together, and get this shit gina, I have already started such a group; Black Girl Voltron.

Black Girl Voltron is: me, @afrolicious, @Marqueez, @salinabrown_nyc, @LatoyaPeterson.

Our first meeting which was via Skype the day after Thanksgiving 2010, Black Friday. We talked about many things from, the rise of mobile technologies, why Youtube and Itunes will not scale for independent artists, the opportunities that mobile may offer for Black women artists, the intersection of social justice and technology, the future importance of Big Data.

I took notes that day, but what was so amazing to me about this conversation is that I knew that we had something special, but I just didn’t know what it was.

Not until this morning.

Walking on the way to the train, I thought to myself, what I really want to do is have a focus group, where a group of Black women who possess an oppositional lens on racial, gender and sexual politics can get together and talk about the intersection of technology and Black girl cultural projects that are online.

Crossing the street, I was like shit…I have already been doing that, but I just never thought about it that way.

So now that I know that I have identified what we have been doing as being theoretically significant, I now need to realize how we can have other conversations that can be documented.

Which brings me back to Black Girl Cyborgs. I have championed when other Black women have claimed cyborg status. The first two people that come to mind are Erykah Badu (Robot Girl), Janell Monae. But for me to do so, shit feels weird. Don’t get me wrong, I ride for #blackgirlsarefromthefuture, but the cyborg makes me uncomfortable.

I think this occurs for two reasons. First, it is a challenge for Black women to be seen as human beings by many people in the US, so claiming machine + human cyborg status is real to me. Second, technology within captialism in the US is framed as means for a more efficient systems.  Efficiency, when brought to bear historically on Black women’s bodies has historically meant that our ass is grass. See, US Chattel Slavery, See, Henrietta Lacks, See forced sterilization of Black women in South Carolina. For me, there is an acute tension between efficiency and human becoming more human in 2012 and beyond. I take this idea of becoming a more human, human being from Grace Boggs.

All of this being said, I felt the need to write this because pieces seem to be coming together. I also heard someone use voltroning as a verb, and didn’t acknowledge #allcity. #keepiteven.

To be clear, voltroning…is a term that I have used to describe when I get together with folks, and my favorite voltrons are spontaneous joints. It’s Libra season, so there should be a lot of voltrons happening ;p.

I also see this post as an opportunity to reflect on why the idea of the Black girl as a cyborg troubles me.

Black girl cyborgs?

Do you read sci-fi? Does anyone do Black women as cyborgs other than Ms. Butler?


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