“I am not a black woman. I am a Christian woman who happens to be black.” Priscilla Shirer, Christian public speaker and daughter of mega church pastor, Dr. Tony Evans of the Urban Alternative in Dallas Texas, uttered these words at a recent speaking engagement at LifePoint Church in Crowley, Texas. Shirer may have thought her words were well-meaning and innocent. But, I found it interesting that she did not discount her woman-ness for she said, “I am a Christian woman who happens to be black.” Her statement should have been, “I am a Christian who happens to be black and a woman,” if, as she put it, “no other identity is to be put above her Christian one.”
Following the opening session of University of Maryland’s African American History, Culture and Digital Humanities’ (AADHum) “Intentionally Digital, Intentionally Black” conference on Friday, the first thing I did was run up for a hug from a young man named Nathan Dize. Nathan and I were strangers in real life; but we were also twitter friends. This process of linking up with people that I knew digitally IRL was a huge personal theme of this particular conference. Not only were we in community by virtue of our research interest, but many of us were connected virtually. While the content of this conference, which I’ll get to I promise, was incredible, a large part of the joy I derived from this experience came from the opportunity to be in physical proximity with the people that provide me with a large amount of my academic support. What does it mean to make the digital physical?