Special Issue CFP: “In the Along”: Curricular and Pedagogical Imperatives for Black Mattering

Guest editors: Dr. Wilson K. Okello, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Dr. TJ Stewart, Iowa State University

Abstract submission deadline: The Nov. 1 deadline has passed. Submissions are no longer being accepted.

Black (lives) mattering (Love, 2019) is an elusive project, one that grapples indefinitely with the anti-Black insistence on life as social death (Hartman, 2007; Sharpe, 2016; Wilderson, 2010). We understand anti-Blackness as the epistemic, ontological, spiritual, and ideological assaults on Black people in and beyond the educational context. We are not confused--in this moment, socially, there is renewed energy espousing a commitment to Black people. Statements have been made. Posts and tweets abound. Monuments once defended are being relocated. And yet, these instantiations of progress serve to amplify our opening statement wherein it seems easier for society to respond to the death of Black people than it is to love, plan for, lift, and protect the living, breathing, and fullness of Black life. 

This special issue of JETHE (volume 4 issue 2) assumes that, as educators and practitioners, we exist in the "next time" (Baldwin, 1963, p. 89) that James Baldwin warned about and have a unique responsibility to teach in and from that painful place. As such, we follow a lineage of statements and texts that have believed in the import of centering Blackness, particularly Black women, as the fulcrum of an anti-oppressive society (see Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977 ). Here, "in this place" (Morrison, 1987, p. 89), where Black people are concerned, what is the sound, look, feel, and doing of a scholarship of consequence? Where racist enclosure threatens Black students' movements and mobility, what are the curricular makings of Black life and living, such that Blackness is more than a theoretical abstraction or academic exercise? Following Dumas (2018), in our effort to inspire a deeper meditation on the experiences of Black people in educational sites, we hope for this special issue to come to a transdisciplinary understanding "of what Black freedom wants [and] what Black freedom requires of us" (p. 35) as we teach and advise in and around schools. We know that freedom and therefore mattering, "is a practice...to want freedom is to welcome struggle," (Love, 2019, p. 9), but what are the pathways, innovations, decisions, and nondecisions, that facilitate this flight and resist generic solutions to the problem of anti-Blackness?

Offering insight on a praxis of Black mattering, Gwendolyn Brooks (1991), in her poem "Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward (Among them Nora and Henry III)," wrote "Live not for battles won / Live not for the-end-of-the-song / Live in the along" (p. 23). As a poetics of survival, to live in the along "proposes an injunction, a proposition...a declaration of war" (Kelley, 2002, p. 192) that commits to building possibilities and new conceptions of Black liberation. Though nestled in the hold of the ship (Wilderson, 2010), to live in the along is to enact an imagination bent on Black people's material and epistemic desires. To live in the along is to "produce beautifully, visceral, and eloquent literature, photography, visual art, and films that explain and endure our suffering, soundscapes...body movements that express pain and joy simultaneously" (Love, 2019, p. 8). In the spirit of freedom dreaming (Kelley, 2002), we seek empirical and theoretical submissions across four broad sections: curriculum, pedagogy, system changes, and theory to practice, that address the following:

  • How do we as teachers and practitioners participate in Black suffering, where Black suffering denotes both the mundane and devastating expressions of anti-Blackness? 
  • What are our responsibilities in and to socially charged moments? 
  • How do we serve as witnesses to Black suffering in ways that draw our attention, not merely to the traumatic moment, but to Black life lived in the face of anti-black terror in schools and other educational sites?
  • How do we not enact violence in and through our pedagogies?

Subtopics may include or take up:

  • Black literacies 
  • Black joy
  • Black resistance
  • Black love (loving Blackness)
  • Black and endarkened feminist praxis and epistemologies
  • Queer of color,  gender-queer, and trans studies
  • Intersections of Blackness and dis/ability
  • Ethical community-engaged research
  • Creativity and arts-based methodologies
  • Decolonial praxis

Without question, the assault on Black mattering is fueled by anti-Blackness, which is sinister in nature and always already metamorphosing its next iteration. Therefore, we evoke Patton-Davis’s (2018) call for transdisciplinarity as one strategy to address these oppressions and to ask “how do we transcend compartmentalized ways of knowing toward seamless linkages across, between, and beyond the traditional?" In response, we welcome and encourage transdisciplinary approaches, analyses, and meditations that incorporate knowledge and framing from across academic disciplines and epistemological perspectives from within and beyond the academy. 

Authors selected to submit a full article for review will be notified by December 15, 2020. Full submissions for this special issue will be due on March 1, 2021, and should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length, including the abstract and references; book reviews are limited to 750 words (not inclusive of references). The guest editors will review the abstract submissions and identify reviewers with relevant expertise to review invited articles.

The guest editors, Wilson Okello (okellow@uncw.edu) and TJ Stewart (terah@iastate.edu), welcome and encourage interested scholars to contact them with queries related to the call before the November 1st deadline for abstracts. Other questions regarding submission can be addressed directly to the JETHE editors. Authors need to register with the journal prior to submitting or, if already registered, can simply log in and begin the five-step process. Detailed information and instructions are located on the Submissions page.  


Baldwin, J. (1963). The fire next time. Penguin Books.

Brooks, G. (1991). Blacks. Third World Press.

Dumas, M. J. (2018). Beginning and ending with black suffering: A meditation on and against racial justice in education. In E. Tuck, & K.W. Yang (Eds.), Toward What Justice?: Describing Diverse Dreams of Justice in Education (pp. 29–45). Routledge.

Hartman, S. (2007). Lose your mother: A journey along the Atlantic slave route. Macmillan.

Love, B.L. (2019). We want to do more than survive: Abolitionist teaching and the pursuit of education freedom. Beacon Press.

Morrison, T. (1987). Beloved. Plume.

Patton-Davis, L. (2018, January) Solidarity and collective action to eradicate racism in higher education. Presentation at the Presidential Symposium on Racial Justice in Higher Education, Los Angeles, CA

Kelley, R. D. (2002). Freedom dreams: The black radical imagination. Beacon Press.

Sharpe, C. (2016). In the wake: On Blackness and being. Duke University Press.

Wilderson, F. B., III. (2010). Red, white, and Black: Cinema and the structure of U.S. antagonisms. Duke University Press.