Ordinary Intersections: Speculations on Difference, Justice, and Utopia in Black Queer Life



This essay speculates on three scenes from Black queer life: the murder of J.R. Warren, a young Black gay man in rural West Virginia; a startlingly concrete encounter with online racism in a gay chat room; and the incipiently erotic relationship that forms between two girls in a play about racial haunting. These speculations draw on recent articulations of affective ordinariness and reorient Kimberele Crenshaw's notion of intersectionality toward the heady confluence of uneven and banal imaginings, forces, and longings that make so much of ordinary life significant, including, especially, an animating if also incoherent sense of hopefulness. I argue for more nuanced theoretical conceptions of intersectionality and of the ordinary as an initial, tentative, and partial effort toward doing justice to the complexity and the promise of the lives we as anthropologists attempt to document.