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515 Madison Street (Parlor Level)
(between Lewis Ave and Marcus Garvey Ave)
Brooklyn, NY 11221
651 ARTS completes its Fall season Classically Black Salon series with an intimate book reading and discussion with author Aimee Meredith Cox, Ph.D.. Cox will read from her debut book Shapeshifters which explores how young Black women in a Detroit homeless shelter contest stereotypes, critique their status as partial citizens, and negotiate poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves.
Based on eight years of fieldwork at the Fresh Start shelter, Cox shows how the shelter’s residents—who range in age from fifteen to twenty-two—employ strategic methods she characterizes as choreography to disrupt the social hierarchies and prescriptive narratives that work to marginalize them. Among these are dance and poetry, which residents learn in shelter workshops. These outlets for performance and self-expression, Cox shows, are key to the residents exercising their agency, while their creation of alternative family structures demands a rethinking of notions of care, protection, and love. Cox also uses these young women’s experiences to tell larger stories: of Detroit’s history, the Great Migration, deindustrialization, the politics of respectability, and the construction of Black girls and women as social problems. With Shapeshifters Cox gives a voice to young Black women who find creative and non-normative solutions to the problems that come with being young, Black, and female in America.
In this powerful and passionate book Aimee Meredith Cox communicates important messages about the integrity and humanity of black girls, their potential, and the ways this potential is variously thwarted, squeezed, bounced, and redirected. Rich in detail and at times hilarious, painful, and revealing, Cox’s ethnography provides an account of the ways girls move through the obstacle course of poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves. - Elizabeth Chin, author of Purchasing Power: Black Kids and American Consumer Culture
Dr. Aimee Meredith Cox is a cultural anthropologist and movement artist who teaches in the African and African American Studies Department at Fordham University. She is the author of Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship (Duke 2015) and the forthcoming edited volume, Gender & Space (MacMillan). She has written peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on performance, race and gender in youth culture, and the politics of cultural production. Aimee is a former professional dancer who toured widely with Ailey II/The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble. She is the founder of BlackLight, a young women of color-led activist art initiative that produced community-based projects in Detroit, Newark, and New York City.
Jessica Lynne and DéLana R.A. Dameron reflect on ways they make a home, creatively, wherever they are.