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The Black Studies Reading Room: “Can you Be Black and Look at This?”

About the Event


Nov 14, 2019, 6 – 8pm



“Can you Be Black and Look at This?” Poet Elizabeth Alexander asked this question in 1994 with the video recording of Rodney King’s beating lodged in her mind. At the Black Studies Reading Room on November 14th, we’ll ask the same question of Sanford Biggers’ difficult BAM series, in which the artist uses sculpture and video to memorialize black victims of police violence. What does it mean to be black and live with the memory bank of black suffering in American media and culture? What options does contemporary art give us, and what new problems does it pose?

Our study session will include a tour of Biggers’ installation, followed by a group discussion in Alpha’s Bet Is Not Over Yet, a reading space curated by contemporary artists Steffani Jemison and Jamal Cyrus, and inspired by the legacy of black radical politics and publishing. The BAM series and Alpha’s Bet is Not Over Yet are on view at TUAG until December 15, 2019.