In her foreword to the groundbreaking anthology, This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Toni Cade Bambara (1983) famously argues that the great work of feminist writing is “to make revolution irresistible.” This statement is often read as a founding call of women-of-color feminism, and of feminist literary expression in particular. Yet Bambara’s notion of the “irresistible” extends beyond the page; throughout her works, she also uses the term as a key descriptor of her pedagogy, and her vision of the classroom. Bambara joins Audre Lorde and other Black feminist writer/teachers in insisting on a crucial nexus of joy, pleasure, and creative expression in radical feminist pedagogy. This paper explores the possibilities of poetic imagination as a site for intersectional pedagogy. How do Black feminist writers mobilize shared feeling and intimacy to reimagine power in the classroom space? Exploring scenes of teaching and learning in Black feminist literary works including Bambara’s short story “The Lesson” (1972), Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John (1983) and Lucy (1990), and rapper Missy Elliott’s single “Gossip Folks” (2002), I examine how Black feminist literature opens pathways for critiquing race, gender, class, sexuality and related power structures by reimagining the site of the classroom. I consider these scenes alongside critical and personal reflections on Black feminist pedagogy by Bambara, Lorde, and other Black feminist teacher/artists. Reading these texts through an interdisciplinary lens, I argue that Black feminist literary imagination allows us to re-think the site of the classroom through a Black queer feminist perspective that can shift our approaches to social transformation in academic spheres and beyond.
Sullivan, Mecca Jamilah. 2022. "Pedagogies of the “Irresistible”: Imaginative Elsewheres of Black Feminist Learning.." Journal of Feminist Scholarship 20 (Spring): 1-18. 10.23860/jfs.2022.20.01.