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Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance-- Francesca Royster in conversation with Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Event date: 
Friday, February 17, 2023 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

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This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Charis welcomes Francesca Royster in conversation with Alexis Pauline Gumbs for a discussion of Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance. A brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides. 

As a multiracial household in Chicago’s North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T. Royster and her family's world, influencing everyday acts of parenting and the conception of what family truly means. Like Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, this lyrical and affecting memoir focuses on a unit of three: the author; her wife Annie, who's white; and Cecilia, the Black daughter they adopt as a couple in their forties and fifties. Choosing Family chronicles this journey to motherhood while examining the messiness and complexity of adoption and parenthood from a Black, queer, and feminist perspective. Royster also explores her memories of the matriarchs of her childhood and the homes these women created in Chicago’s South Side—itself a dynamic character in the memoir—where “family” was fluid, inclusive, and not necessarily defined by marriage or other socially recognized contracts.
     
Calling upon the work of some of her favorite queer thinkers, including José Esteban Muñoz and Audre Lorde, Royster interweaves her experiences and memories with queer and gender theory to argue that many Black families, certainly her own, have historically had a “queer” attitude toward family: configurations that sit outside the white normative experience and are the richer for their flexibility and generosity of spirit. A powerful, genre-bending memoir of family, identity, and acceptance, Choosing Family, ultimately, is about joy—about claiming the joy that society did not intend to assign to you, or to those like you.

Francesca T. Royster is a native of Chicago’s South Side and a professor of English literature at DePaul University in Chicago, where she teaches classes on African American literature and culture, Shakespeare, and gender and queer theory. She is the author of three academic books, Becoming Cleopatra: The Shifting Image of an Icon, Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era, and Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions. She received her PhD in English literature from the University of California, Berkeley. Her essays have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chicago Literati, and Feminist Studies, among others. She lives in Chicago.

Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a poet, independent scholar, and activist. She is the co-author of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines and author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist FugitivityM Archive: After the End of the WorldDub: Finding Ceremony, and Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage

Please contact us at info@chariscircle.org or 404-524-0304 if you would like ASL interpretation at this event. If you would like to watch the event with live AI captions, you may do so by watching it in Google Chrome and enabling captions: Instructions here. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to info@chariscircle.org. We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

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Event address: 
CROWDCAST
Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance By Francesca T. Royster Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781419756177
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Abrams Press - February 7th, 2023

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance is a brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides.
 
As a multiracial household in Chicago’s North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T.


Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions (American Music Series) By Francesca T. Royster Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781477326497
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Texas Press - October 4th, 2022

2023 Ralph J.


Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines By Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Editor), China Martens (Editor), Mai'a Williams (Editor), Loretta J. Ross (Preface by) Cover Image
By Alexis Pauline Gumbs (Editor), China Martens (Editor), Mai'a Williams (Editor), Loretta J. Ross (Preface by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781629631103
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: PM Press - April 1st, 2016

An anthology that gives access to the voices of mothers of color and marginalized mothers
 
Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines is an anthology that centers mothers of color and marginalized mothers’ voices—women who are in a world of necessary transformation.


Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals By Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Adrienne Maree Brown (Foreword by) Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781849353977
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: AK Press - November 17th, 2020

Undrowned is a book-length meditation for social movements and our whole species based on the subversive and transformative guidance of marine mammals. Our aquatic cousins are queer, fierce, protective of each other, complex, shaped by conflict, and struggling to survive the extractive and militarized conditions our species has imposed on the ocean.


Dub: Finding Ceremony By Alexis Pauline Gumbs Cover Image
$28.69
ISBN: 9781478006459
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - February 14th, 2020

The concluding volume in a poetic trilogy, Alexis Pauline Gumbs's Dub: Finding Ceremony takes inspiration from theorist Sylvia Wynter, dub poetry, and ocean life to offer a catalog of possible methods for remembering, healing, listening, and living otherwise.


M Archive: After the End of the World By Alexis Pauline Gumbs Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780822370840
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - March 9th, 2018

Following the innovative collection Spill, Alexis Pauline Gumbs's M Archive-the second book in a planned experimental triptych-is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following a worldwide cataclysm. Engaging with the work of the foundational Black feminist theorist M.


Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity By Alexis Pauline Gumbs Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9780822362722
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Duke University Press - October 28th, 2016

In Spill, self-described queer Black troublemaker and Black feminist love evangelist Alexis Pauline Gumbs presents a commanding collection of scenes depicting fugitive Black women and girls seeking freedom from gendered violence and racism.


Event Summary: 
A brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago’s North and South Sides.