Photo of seated woman 2 shanita mitchell the twerking academic

The Twerking Academic, Artist’s Memo

In the newest video from The Twerking Academic, titled “Double Consciousness Homecoming,” I explore how the summer of 2020 slammed me back into an awareness of my own double consciousness as a Black American. Though I was quite traumatized by the public spectacle of Black death splashed across the news and multiple social media platforms, the more acute wounding occurred closer to home as I grappled with the performativity I witnessed around me and my own less than satisfactory response to it.

My personal leniency for all the past wounds inflicted upon me distressed me. I had been too kind, had made too many allowances, had placed white comfort above my own innumerable times. In doing so, I wounded myself almost irreparably as I realized that the gesture would never be returned. For years, I waited, confident in the fact that when the time came to march, “they” would march. They did not march.

And I, along with all the illusions I had unconsciously built for my own day to day survival, shattered. Because I had done everything that I was supposed to do to be an exemplary Black person to them. How could they not march for and with me? How could they not even muster up a post for me? I had talked less. I had smiled more. And still… the seats for the “Shanita’s Life Matters” conference were vacant. Even then, I did not confront them about it. I just sat there mute, wounded by betrayal and my own expendability in their lives and in the world.

I focused this piece on exploring multiple layers of disappointment and revelations. It is very much a delayed enacting of necessary internal and external confrontations. All in one breath, the piece focuses on conversations I should have been having with friends and acquaintances, my own disappointment with my inability to engage my social circle in meaningful discussions about their silence and lack of action, and processing my double consciousness homecoming. I am as much the subject of the emotional entreaty within the ballad as I view the performance my outer self is giving with the eyes of my inner self.

The worlds within and without the Veil of Color are changing, and changing rapidly, but not at the same rate, not in the same way; and this must produce a peculiar wrenching of the soul, a peculiar sense of doubt and bewilderment. Such a double life, with double thoughts, double duties, and double social classes, must give rise to double words and double ideals, and tempt the mind to pretense or revolt, to hypocrisy or radicalism. (Du Bois, 2003, p. 221-222)

References

Blake, J., Beyonce, & Garrett, K. (2016). Pray you catch me [Audio recording]. Lemonade. Sony Music Entertainment.

Du Bois. W. E. B. (2003). The souls of Black Folk. Modern Library.

Featured image by Shanita Mitchell

About Author

Shanita Mitchell currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Rappahannock Scholars Program at the University of Mary Washington. Since graduating from UMW with her B.A. in 2012, she has continued to pursue her passion for providing underserved and underrepresented student populations with college access opportunities and scholarships by working in and with the Office of Admissions, Financial Aid, and serving as the advisor for various multicultural and performance organizations on campus. That same passion recently led Shanita to acquire her M.A. in English from Southern New Hampshire University with the intent to expand beyond the administrative side of higher ed and into the classroom. Shanita also works as a dance instructor at The Courthouse School of Ballet and Umbiance Dance Studio. In her spare time, Shanita enjoys portrait painting, amateur photography, costuming, video editing, and advancing her study of Black feminist thought, Critical Race Theory, and autoethnography as a meaningful expression of self.

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