“Ah, the world will change with me. I don’t like the world as it is”
(Carolina Maria de Jesus)
Afro-centered? How many times will I have to speak, walk, and be in spaces for people to understand? I will be all of these things. I am racialized. Feminized. Compartmentalized. But men think – yes, men – think, that that’s the way it is. I am the other. And it’s as the other that I will educate. I’m here. More here than many of them.
You have to understand that fully embracing blackness and pride is a constant struggle. Intellectuality and language, as well as logical frameworks and the development of concepts and structures, are radically linked to a white, male normality. I view this as ethnic, Eurocentric, and biased thinking.
Praising Exoticism: Violence Beyond the Subtle
We’re supposed to be here partaking in a structure that positions me as other, praising exoticism. Violence beyond the subtle. And alongside this vocabulary and language, there is an idea that my existence must ask permission from spaces that, as part of humanity, should already belong to me. Humanity is assimilated, starting from the unity of man as specific and worthy of compartmentalization. And I depart from this framework in order to understand ethnic, equalized, or rather equalizing, thinking.
We speak a European language. We set our boundaries and possibilities from a construction structured in a European cosmogony. But the epistemological egregore that dwells in me allows for the hard realization of violent attempts at the stagnation, maintenance, and updating this Europeanized being.
And I assume this being is me, a person who must be the other, and see this otherness (the other thing) modulated in its own power. I have established from the fact that I am alive and creating that the line I have assimilated is nothing but ethnic, Eurocentric, and that I can and want and will move on to othered intellectual practices. It is important to add here that these are not other practices, but othered practices, the physical exercise of shifting the word and its place in the world.
Blackness and Femininity as Language
It’s about inhabiting multi-verses. Understanding that there is no outside, that externality, that otherness fits inside the same spacetime, and is a line of thought, and seeking other, and presenting other, and being other. And embracing pleasure as a language, my blackness as a language, my femininity as a language, and choosing to remain within the field of art.
Thinking is ethnic thinking. Thinking is no longer inside the Euro-centered ethnic unit, it inhabits the curve inside thinking and the body, it works inside the possibility of embracing a wholeness of multiple resources to perceive the intellectual contexts that lead us to embrace art, which is, after all, the field. Exoticized, other, and ethnic: one more. Euro-centered, Afro-centered, Indigenous-centered. There is no outside. We are all inside. My thinking is ethnic, and so is yours.
Keyna Eleison is a curator, with a degree in Philosophy and a Masters in Art History. A narrator, singer, and ancestral chronicler, she is a specialist in art education, storytelling, knowledge harvesting – orally, Griot heritage and shamanic ritual. She also contributes regularly to the column “For eyes that can see” in Contemporary And (C&) América Latina.
Translated from Portuguese by Zoë Perry