CFP: Rethinking Black Love Since E. Franklin Frazier
by Kathryn Vaggalis

“Rethinking Black Love Since E. Franklin Frazier”

A special guest-edited issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color by

Ayesha K. Hardison and Randal Maurice Jelks

Submission deadline: February 1, 2018

In this special issue of Women, Gender, and Families of Color the editors are soliciting scholarly contributions that rethink what the affective word “love” means in Black communities.

In 1939, when the sociologist E. Franklin Frazier published his study The Negro Family in the United States, he had no idea he was initiating a discussion about Black life, love, and family that would be debated well into the twenty-first century. Three years after Franklin’s death in 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s public policy report used information gleaned from Frazier’s research to assert that Black families, purportedly dominated by Black women, were largely pathological. Moynihan’s damaging conclusions were both sexist and racist by today’s standards, as well as those of his day, and failed to consider the non-normative familial connections and LGBTQ relationships that have historically been a part of Black communities. His work also overlooked the emergence of new perspectives on Black sexuality and families, including Black feminism amidst the Civil Rights Movement. Although a great deal of sociological and historical work has been done to countervail these depictions and their reverberating consequences, popular culture, media, law, research, and social practices continue to conscribe Black families with racially biased, patriarchal tropes that stem from the work of Frazier and his intellectual descendant, Moynihan. These often-unquestioned assumptions regarding Black families’ structures, welfare, and sustainability are at the root of conflicts over Black love in its many forms, including the erotic, familial, platonic, and communal expressions of love among Black people.

We invite scholars, writers, and artists to join us in contemplating themes of Black love in literature, religious thought, philosophy, history, and popular culture to inform and expand readers’ understanding of the emotional and affectionate bonds within Black communities.

Contributors may address the following topics, though this list is not exhaustive:

  • Current issues in Black romantic life
  • The sacred meaning of Black love
  • The role of media, people, or space in the construction and shaping of our appreciation of Black love
  • Gendered notions of love and their effect on Black family socialization and expectations
  • Issues of employment and education and the relationship of these variables to Black love and families
  • Sexuality and physical intimacies
  • Parenting and child rearing
  • Divorce and single parenting

Please submit a 250-word abstract in Times-New Roman, size 12 font, and a brief two-page CV to by February 1, 2018.

About the Journal: Women, Gender, and Families of Color is a multidisciplinary journal that centers the study of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and Asian American women, gender, and families. Within this framework, the journal encourages theoretical and empirical research from history, the social and behavioral sciences, and humanities including comparative and transnational research, and analyses of domestic social, political, economic, and cultural policies and practices within the United States.

About the Editors:

Ayesha K. Hardison is associate professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Kansas. She also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of African and African-American Studies. Her award-winning book, Writing through Jane Crow: Race and Gender Politics in African American Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2014) examines representations of Black women and the politics of Black literary production during the 1940s and 1950s. Hardison has published book chapters and reviews as well as articles in African American Review and Meridians, and she has received fellowships and awards from the Ford Foundation, Schomburg Center, Black Metropolis Research Consortium in Chicago, and Kansas Humanities Council. Recently, she co-organized with Randal Maurice Jelks “Black Love: A Symposium,” a week-long series of events celebrating the 80thanniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God at the University of Kansas.

Randal Maurice Jelks is a professor of American Studies and African and African-American Studies. He also holds courtesy appointments in History and Religious Studies; he is the co-editor of the journal American Studies; and he is an ordained Presbyterian clergy (PCUSA). Jelks is the author of two award-winning books: African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights Struggle in Grand Rapids (The University of Illinois Press, 2006), which won the 2006 State History Award from the University and Commercial Press of the Historical Society of Michigan, and Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography (University of North Carolina Press 2012), winner of the 2013 Lillian Smith Book Award and the 2013 Literary Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. He recently co-organized with Ayesha K. Hardison “Black Love: A Symposium,” which celebrated the 80th anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.  Currently, Jelks serves as an executive producer for the two-part biographical documentary I, Too, Sing America: Langston Hughes Unfurled, a film collaboration with the Dream Documentary Collective and the Lawrence Arts Center supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.