I handed in my dissertation on Thursday, July, 31st--I feel accomplished, but more than that I feel grateful. I am grateful to the people and places that held me during this time. There are so many people to thank and I want you all to know how special you are to me. I am copying the acknowledgements to my dissertation below (please note that I was not able to name every name, but YOU are appreciated and loved).
So what's next?
August 15th, 10am @ USC KAP 445 (4th floor), please join me for my dissertation defense. It was a community project, so please show up and ask me the hard questions (and/or just give me a hug;-) I'll be having a celebration right after the defense, so please join.
I have my one-way ticket booked for Chicago (I'm headed to Northwestern for a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Sexuality Studies and African American Studies!) September 1st, 2014 (If you're in LA and want to link before I go, please hit me up).
What I need? (Real Talk)
If you are able to donate anything ($1--$1 Million Dollars;-) to my graduation/moving fund it would be more than appreciated. Some of you know what it's like to be in that uncomfortable space between graduate student and professor (the moment when your funding sources are done and don't start up again until the end of September, but you still gotta make it through August and the first part of September). If you can help me out, really I'd appreciate it. Just click the link here to donate:
I thank you all so much for your continued support. <3<3<3 Kai
Until I was 14 years old my mantra was, “There will always be those who are against me, but I still have to keep going despite those haters.” I met a person who encouraged me to consider too, “There will always be people standing with you, by your side, rooting for you, pushing you to be your best.” My worldview changed in that moment and I can say that my team, a team of family, friends, and colleagues, all over the world, has blessed me abundantly. This manuscript is indeed a testament to the love I have received (and hopefully the love that I have shared too). I am grateful for all of those who have helped me, pushed me, challenged me, offered me food, time, gossip sessions, jam sessions, hugs, hikes, and so much more (it is difficult to recount a complete list of the things big and small that helped me survive these graduate school years—it’s a long list that could be its own book). To everyone and everything that held me during these last seven years, I thank you. If you are reading this, I thank you.
I am forever obliged to all of the Black queer, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, heterosexual, transgender, same-gender-loving and Quare Angelenos who shared your stories with me. You opened your hearts to me and I am humbly honored. I know that this manuscript, as long as it is, does not do justice to your unique stories and the lives that you live. I only hope that you see a glimmer of some of the love that you offered me, tucked away in these pages. I thank you for opening your homes and your hearts to me and my camera. This dissertation is (y)ours, though I take responsibility for any of its deficiencies. I could not have completed this project alone. I did not do this project alone. I thank every person that took the time to sit with me and answer my questions about the life. Every magazine, every letter, funeral program, every story that you shared—I thank you: Donald Norman, Claudia Spears, Vallerie D. Wagner, Terry de Grace Morris, Steven G. Fullwood, Curt D. Thomas, E. Jaye Johnson, Alfreda Lanoix, Claudette Colbert, Sandra Tignor, Mark Haile, Joseph Hawkins, Dale Guy Madison, Laura Luna, Jessica Pace, Alan Bell, Mignon Moore, Latrice Dixon/ Iyatunde Folayan, Valerie Spencer, Eko Canillas, O’Shea Myles, Andre J. Mollette, Milton Davis, Imani Tolliver, Rodney K. Nickens Jr., Li Arnee, Daisy Lewis, Paul Scott, James Hightower, and Cleo Manago. Thank you for trusting me with your knowledge—it is valuable and so necessary.
C. Jerome Woods, this dissertation, if nothing else is my love letter to you. You inspire me. You challenge me. You are an incredible teacher, friend, and scholar. I could not have done any of this with your friendship and mentorship. Thank you for teaching me how to listen. Jewel Thais-Williams, I thank you for all that you do. I thank you for being a visionary. You have helped to build and sustain a community that was never meant to survive. You provide medicine for everyone, but especially Black LGBT Angelenos and it is incredible to be a witness to your fierceness. Thank you for being an example of non-stop bad-ass-ness. Jeffrey King, thank you for always pushing me to be better. Thank you for challenging me and giving me the opporitunity to be a part of Black LGBT Los Angeles. Your love of Black life and Black people inspires me.
I would not have been able to complete this manuscript without the assistance of these Los Angeles organizations: The Here to Stay Coalition, The Jordan Rustin Coalition, In the Meantime Men’s Group, The Village Health Foundation, The Black AIDS Institute, The ONE Institute, Mayme Clayton Library, William Grant Still Arts Center, Unity Fellowship Church, The Minority Aids Project, BLU (Black Lesbians United), Alpha Omega Nu, and BLK Enterprises, The Southern California Library. I thank you.
I thank those who assisted me with interview transcriptions: Skylar Myers, Irina Contreras, Erica Vasquez, and Anna Martine Whitehead.
I must also thank Cole B. Cole and The Brown Boi Project for always being there, providing me with a listening ear, a writing coach, a life coach and so much more. I am grateful for your enduring support.
I am thankful to have been supported by multiple fellowships throughout my graduate career: Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship Dissertation Award, Davis-Putter Scholarship: Funding Students Working for Social Change, King-Bredmond Scholarship, American Studies & Ethnicity Travel Grant (USC), Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship Pre-Doctoral Award, EDGE FIRST Summer Institute Fellowship (National Science Foundation), and Mellon Mays SSRC Fellowship. I thank these organizations for believing in me and supporting my research.
Of course this manuscript owes itself in part to the amazing mentorship that I have received both inside and outside of my home department, American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. I begin by thanking my committee, Kara Keeling, Robin D.G. Kelley, Lanita Jacobs, Laura Pulido, and Vicki Callahan—you have all been supportive and I appreciate you sharing your brilliance with me. I’d especially like to thank Ruthie Gilmore and Robin D.G. Kelley for rescuing me from the English department. Shana Redmond, I thank you for your enduring friendship and mentorship. John Carlos Rowe, your support from day one, has been invaluable. Jack Halberstam and Macarena Gomez-Barris, I appreciate you for your assistance with early iterations of this manuscript. And though I have not known you for very long, Nayan Shah, your support as department chair has been helpful—thank you. Jujuana Preston, Kitty Lai, and Sonia Rodriguez, I thank you for keeping our program up and running.
I have been blessed enough to encounter some of my most influential teachers outside of my department. For reading, editing, and encouraging me to keep going I thank mentors, friends and now colleagues: Fred Moten, E. Patrick Johnson, Rinaldo Walcott, Marlon Bailey, Maylei Blackwell, Roderick Ferguson, Cathy Cohen, Cheryl Hicks, Christina Sharpe, Heath Fogg-Davis, Sharon Holland, Deb Vargas, Molly Magavern, Matt Richardson, Gaye Johnson, Susan Stryker, LaMonda Horton Stallings, Jeffrey McCune, Juana Maria Rodriguez, and Mireille Miller Young. Erica Edwards, I am forever grateful for you. You have helped me to grow as a writer, scholar, overall human being—Thank you. You, with your insight, are the person who first suggested ethnography to me as a method. I thank you for your critical eye and loving heart. I want to especially express my gratitude for Clyde Woods who walked me through the whole graduate application process, read and re-read my application essays, and let me stay at his house when I could no longer take LA. Clyde was a mentor and a friend and I know that he is with me today, asking the hard questions.
There is a special group of scholars, organizers, and artists that I must thank. These people are brilliant. They are my dear friends and they provided me with some of the most support. These are my friends who understand the graduate school grind (or just love me through it), we have Skype check-ins, read each other’s work, call each other to yell, remind ourselves that we are not alone, have brunch, go to the beach, and... Look out for these superstars: C. Riley Snorton, Juli Grigsby, David Green, Jordan Camp, Anthony Rodriguez, Patricia Torres, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Christina Heatherton, Tasneem Siddiqui, Deb Al Najjar, Jolie Chea, David Stein, Emily Hobson, Darnell Moore, Patrisse Cullors, Mark Anthony Johnson, Kwame Holmes, Micha Cardenas, Zakiyyah Jackson, Uri McMillan, Ren-Yo Hwang, Freda Fair, Amber Brooks, Anisha Warner, Eric Stanley, Haven Perez, Jasmine Riley, Julia "Quicy" Bates, Jennifer Tran, Jonathan Gomez, Kavita Kulkarni, Tabitha Chester, Charlene Carruthers, Alyah Baker, Sammy Lyon, Megan Benton, Lex Kennedy, Aisha McDaniel, Krys Freeman, Kingston Joseph, Jay-Marie Hill, Chaney Turner, Micah Hobbs, Felisha Thomas, Sarah Haley, Mari Morales-Williams, Carrie Kholi (My copy editor-you are the best!), Julia R. Wallace (we tranifest <3), and Alexis Pauline Gumbs (My PhDoula—thank you for helping me get through this in a healthy way. You are a blessing).
To Analena Hope and Treva Ellison, my dream team come true, y’all are my aces. I thank you for listening to me talk and talk and talk and then challenging me to write. You both help me to imagine new worlds, new possibilities, and I love you both dearly. I can’t wait to see you both climb that mountain—you got this! We got this!
Anna Martine Whitehead, for your thoughtfulness, for your energy, and for your non-stop go, I thank you. Thank you for joining me in the darkness. I thank you for long nights of conversation and the time you took to read through so many run-on sentences. You constantly, reminded me to eat, exercise, and take care of myself. And when I didn’t do such a great job, you were there. I could not have done this without you pushing me and loving me. I love you.
Finally I want to thank Oakland, the place I call home—the place I love and will never stop wanting to return to. To my family—my mother, Fern D. Green and my father, Darrell Lee Green, my aunt, Gwen Babaoye, my brothers, Dion Preston and Bobby Preston, my nephew, Jeremie Preston and to all my cousins, aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews and all y’all—I thank you for giving me life over and over again.