This article explores a Black queer feminist frame of reference as a critical response to the cisnormative and heteronormative Black political science literature. The contours of this frame are derived from the political thought of Cathy J. Cohen. Cohen’s political thought provides an exemplary case of how Black queer feminist political science can address the lacuna in which Black queer and trans individuals are marginalized within, if not excluded from, the literature on Black political thought and behavior. Cohen’s work exposes oppressive systems, demystifies the nature of political power, and inspires counter-hegemonic knowledge production that challenges the rigidity of what and who counts as “legitimate” subjects for political science inquiries. Before synthesizing a sample of Cohen’s political thought, this article succinctly reviews Black political science, including Black feminist political science, detailing its history, problems, trends, and how scholars have tended to carry out Black politics work within the discipline. Black political science is critically placed in its activist-scholar context. This article argues that Black political scientists must continue to look inward, not only considering how race and racist knowledge has structured the discipline, but also how power is distributed among (and between) various groups of Black political scientists themselves. It is Black queer feminism that will continue to advance the radical imperative of Black political science.
Queering Black Feminism: The Political Thought of Cathy J. Cohen
I owe a special thank you to Drs. Teri Platt, Aubrey Underwood, and Henry Elonge (also known as my dissertation committee) for their continuous support and guidance. I additionally express my gratitude to the journal reviewers for their helpful suggestions and encouraging comments.
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Tayler J. Mathews; Queering Black Feminism: The Political Thought of Cathy J. Cohen. National Review of Black Politics 13 April 2020; 1 (2): 291–310. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nrbp.2020.1.2.291
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