“I keep hearing people wrestle with an important but never-ending question: ‘Does change happen from the bottom up or the top down? If I am doing my thinking work in my corner, where does it go—does it radiate up/down/outward/anywhere? Who is organizing it all?’ I think these questions come from a feeling of isolation—like, who is paying attention? Who is listening? Is change happening?
“This intro to the special issue of BCRW’s Scholar and Feminist beautifully celebrates and honors the work of Ntozoke Shange -- and in doing so, lovingly reorients, maybe even rejects, the above questions. As I read, I see references to and contributions from all the people I love and admire at Barnard—people I otherwise would not have realized are entangled with each other. My internal dialogue is a loop of: ‘Oh my gosh! So-and-so knows so-and-so! And look at what they made!!’ This intro is proof that collaborative, meaningful change is more playful and imaginative than top-down/bottom-up. It happens in constellations, and it is projects like these that make those constellations visible, that choreographs them. By weaving between Shange’s words and those of the many Barnard contributors, the introduction also acts as a map of Black feminist thought at Barnard, including voices from across departments, staff, students, and faculty of all ranks. In this way, the intro provides a roadmap for cultivating and engaging with Black feminism at Barnard. It’s an example of how centering and celebrating the work of our very own Black Barnard alums like Shange can be such a fruitful starting point for collective antiracist work and for deepening relationships with people we love.” - Cecelia Lie-Spahn, English & First Year Foundation