The topic of the 26th Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium on Sept. 29 was titled “Black Phoenix Rising,” a project consisting of multimedia, digital scholarship, and cultural arts exploring black peoples’ ways of resisting material and symbolic death in American life and culture.
Associate Professor of Science in Society Anthony Ryan Hatch, who is also faculty in the African American Studies Program, the College of the Environment, and the Department of Sociology, offered discussion in this WESeminar about the creative initiative and resulting projects that began a year ago when he was a fellow at the Center for the Humanities (CHUM).
Grounded in the black radical tradition, the project was collaboratively conceived and produced through the power of collective memory and the medium of storytelling to regenerate black life through the figure of the phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes.
Wesleyan President Michael Roth ’78 introduced Hatch to the audience.
Through artistic expression and scholarly critique, the Black Phoenix Rising Collective subverts the narrative that black people’s only existence is death by pushing back against anti-black racisms, Hatch says. He offered four “meditations” on ways black people survive “necropolitical warfare.” The Phoenix was one of these, followed by “Rememory”—illustrated, for example, by the grassroots memorials that spring up on the site of a killing. He also discussed “The Art of Storytelling,” as well as “Black Lives Rising.”
The Dwight L. Greene Symposium honors Dwight L. Greene ’70 as a memorial and tribute to his life and work as a professor of law, mentor, and friend. This event is part of the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of Wesleyan’s African American Studies Program.
Professor Hatch is the author of Blood Sugar: Racial Pharmacology and Food Justice in Black America (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) and Silent Cells: The Secret Drugging of Captive America (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming Spring 2019).
The symposium was sponsored by the Black Alumni Network and the Alumni of Color Council.
The Black Phoenix Rising Collective is Kaiyana Cervera ’19, Xavier Cornejo ’18, Ernesto Cuevas, Jr., Kelly D’oleo ’19, Ainsley Eakins ’18, Grace Handy ’18, Anthony Hatch, Paige Hutton ’18, Tedra James ’18, Victoria King ’18, Caroline Liu ’18, Jumoke McDuffie-Thurmond ’19, Josh Nodiff ’19, Henry Prine ’18, Aleyda Patricia Castro ’18, Belén Rodríguez ’19, Jeneille Russell ’18, Delia Tapia ’18, Jordan White ’19, and Grace Wong ’18.
Hatch spoke about his work for a recent article in Wesleyan magazine, “Healthcare and Racism: A Toxic Mix.”
(Photos by Tom Dzimian)