Black Queer Identity Matrix

Howard, Sheena C. (2014). Black Queer Identity Matrix: Towards an Integrated Queer of Color Framework. New York: Peter Lang.

This slim but dense volume explores Black lesbian identity and suggests a framework for analyzing communication and representation in queer of color communities. Howard investigates Black lesbian communication strategies in public spaces, how Black lesbians perceive themselves and the world around them, and ways in which Black lesbian women are triply marginalized. As a communication scholar and Black lesbian, Howard is intimately conversant with the topic and her writing is both theoretical and accessible.

The Black queer identity matrix is the environment—political, social, cultural, economic—within which Black queer communities are embedded. This includes interlocking oppressions including homophobia, sexism, and racism, as well as creative coping mechanisms, empowerment, and coexistence.

The conceptual framework proposed by Howard includes standpoint theory (Nancy C.M. Hartsock), the matrix of domination (Patricia Hill Collins), and Afrocentricity (Molefi Asante). The last chapter of the book includes reflections from Howard’s ethnographic and autoethnographic work using this framework.

I highly recommend this book for queers of color as well as anybody pursuing research with queer of color communities or with representations of queers of color. I predict that Howard will be oft-cited and this will become a foundational text.

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About Charlie McNabb

Archivist, Folklorist, Librarian, Legend Tripper, and Queer Activist
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