Advertisement

Defining Ratchet: Ratchet and Boojie Politics in Black Queer Space

  • Nikki Lane
Chapter

Abstract

In the essay “‘Quare’ Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know about Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother” E. P. Johnson provides an etymology and definition of the word quare, wherein, following Alice Walker’s definition of womanism (Walker 1983), Johnson lays out his understanding of what “quare” means. Quare, according to Johnson (Johnson 2001) is a Southern African American English variant of the word queer and it does a particular kind of work to animate the specificity of (Southern) Black queer experience within what had begun to emerge within academia as “queer studies” (Johnson 2001). In this spirit, and following Johnson (2001) “out on a limb,” I offer here what I consider to be a preliminary etymology and definition of ratchet. It is culled together from the way interlocutors in both formal and informal interviews used the word during my time in the field, but in no way is it meant to stand in for or be treated as the actual definition which is in constant flux. Instead, I am interested in its function and use value to those who put the word into practice.

References

  1. Alim, H. Samy, and Geneva Smitherman. 2012. Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Binnie, Jon. 2011. Class, Sexuality and Space: A Comment. Sexualities 14 (1): 21–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Binnie, Jon, and Beverley Skeggs. 2004. Cosmopolitan Knowledge and the Production and Consumption of Sexualized Space: Manchester’s Gay Village. The Sociological Review 52 (1): 39–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Reprint, 2000.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1986. The Forms of Capital. In Handbook of Theory of Research for the Sociology of Education, ed. J.E. Richardson. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  6. Brown, Nadia E., and Lisa Young. 2015. Ratchet Politics: Moving Beyond Black Women’s Bodies to Indict Institutions and Structures. In Broadening the Contours in the Study of Black Politics: Political Development and Black Women, ed. Michael Mitchell and David Covin. Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  7. Browne, Kath, and Leela Bakshi. 2011. We Are Here to Party? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Leisurescapes Beyond Commercial Gay Scenes. Leisure Studies 30 (2): 179–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, Cathy J. 2005. Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics. In Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae Henderson, 21–51. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Du Bois, John. 2007. The Stance Triangle. In Stancetaking in Discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction, ed. Robert Englebretson. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  10. Fairclough, Norman. 2003. Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. London and New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ferguson, Roderick A. 2000. The Nightmares of the Heteronormative. Journal for Cultural Research 4 (4): 419–444.Google Scholar
  12. ———. 2005a. Of Our Normative Strivings: African American Studies and the Histories of Sexuality. Social Text 23 (3–4): 85–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 2005b. Race-ing Homonormativity: Citizenship, Sociology, and Gay Identity. In Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology, ed. E. Patrick Johnson and Mae Henderson, 52–67. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Goffman, E., and J. Best. 1967. Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face to Face Behavior. Rochester, NY: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  15. Hammonds, Evelynn. 1994. Black (W)holes and the Geometry of Black Female Sexuality. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 6 (2/3): 126–145.Google Scholar
  16. Harvey, David. 2007a. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2007b. Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 610: 22–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, E. Patrick. 1998. Feeling the Spirit in the Dark: Expanding Notions of the Sacred in the African-American Gay Community. Callaloo 21 (2): 399–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2001. “Quare” Studies, or (Almost) Everything I Know About Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother. Text and Performance Quarterly 21 (1): 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ———. 2003. The Pot is Brewing: Marlon Riggs’ Black is… Black Ain’t. In Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity. Durham and London: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  21. ———. 2011. Foreword. In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances, ed. Vershawn Ashanti Young and Bridget Harris Tsemo, xiii–xxxi. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, J.R. 2001. Beyond Exchange: Appraisal Systems in English. In Evaluation in Text: Authorial Stance and the Construction of Discourse, ed. Susan Hunston and Geoff Thompson. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McBride, Dwight A. 2005. Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch: Essays on Race and Sexuality. New York: New York University.Google Scholar
  24. Miller-Young, Mireille. 2008. Hip-Hop Honeys and Da Hustlaz: Black Sexualities in the New Hip-Hop Pornography. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8 (1): 261–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Moore, Mignon R. 2006. Lipstick or Timberlands? Meanings of Gender Presentation in Black Lesbian Communities. Signs 32 (1): 113–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. ———. 2011. Invisible Families: Gay Identities, Relationships, and Motherhood Among Black Women. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Riggs, Marlon T. 1995. Black Is… Black Ain’t. San Francisco: California Newsreel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rodriguez, Juana Maria. 2003. Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces. New York and London: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Smitherman, Geneva. 1994. Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2000. Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner. Rev. ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  31. Stallings, LaMonda Horton. 2013. Hip Hop and the Black Ratchet Imagination. Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International 2 (2): 135–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stevenson, Angus, and Christine A. Lindberg. 2018. Ratchet. In New Oxford American Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Taylor, Yvette. 2007. Working-Class Lesbian Life: Classed Outsiders. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Taylor, Keeanga-Yamahtta. 2016. From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation. Chicago: Haymarket Books.Google Scholar
  35. Valentine, Gill, and Tracey Skelton. 2003. Finding Oneself, Losing Oneself: The Lesbian and Gay ‘Scene’ as Paradoxical Space. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 27 (4): 849–866.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Visser, Gustav. 2008. The Homonormalisation of White Heterosexual Leisure Spaces in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Geoforum 39 (3): 1344–1358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Walker, Alice. 1983. In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Prose. San Diego: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  38. Young, Vershawn Ashanti. 2011. Introduction: Performing Citizenship. In From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances, ed. Vershawn Ashanti Young and Bridget Harris Tsemo, 1–38. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Young, Vershawn, and Bridget Harris Tsemo, eds. 2011. African American Life Series: From Bourgeois to Boojie: Black Middle-Class Performances. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki Lane
    • 1
  1. 1.Washington, DCUSA

Personalised recommendations