Meshell Sturgis & Darius Presley

Meshell Sturgis is a scholar, critic, and artist currently living south of Seattle. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington and received her MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington, Bothell, and her BA in English and Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can find her writing in the Black Embodiment Studio’s annual journal A Year in Black Art, as well as in New Archives and Art Practical. Her dissertation, “The Political Aesthetics of Black Girl Magic: Self-Representation in Alternative Media,” investigates visual culture and politics of identity in sequential art, independent film, and artist books. In addition to critical arts writing, her work has appeared in Lateral, QED, The Journal for Women’s Studies in Communication and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society. 

Darius Presley is a self-taught photographer and multimedia visual artist originally from Federal Way, WA. He currently lives in Seattle and is a first-generation graduate from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Political Science. He was a 2019 Flip Wilson Scholar, a fund that supports continued Black achievement in Communication research. He continues to work on expressing his Black and queer identity through his artistic devlopment and critical inquiry. His goal is to become a visual storyteller for people who look like him and resonate with his story and he is currently contemplating the idea of attending graduate school.

B(l)ack Talk

An Auto-Ethno-Bio-Mytho-Graphic

The Interrupting Privilege (IP) program began in 2016 as an intergenerational class for students and alumni of the University of Washington, led by Dr. Ralina Joseph the founding director of the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity. This program seeks to utilize dialogue and community spaces to foster strategies for understanding and navigating power and difference by interrupting interpersonal moments of microaggressions and structural oppression. Over the years, the course has grown into a program that exceeds the academy, venturing into private corporations and public organizations. In 2019, funded by the ACLS/Mellon Foundation Society for Public Scholars, the IP program took place at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) and brought together Black local community members from high schoolers and college students to business professionals and seniors. Located in the city’s historically Black Central District neighborhood, the group met several times where they participated in IRB approved lectures, sociometric exercises, discussions, and interviews. During this time, two research assistants, Meshell Sturgis and Darius Presley, documented this program through their creative talents including photography, drawing, and storytelling. The narrative contained within this book is an auto-ethno-bio-mytho-graphic account of the 2019-2020 IP program which began in person but eventually moved online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While images and content bear the likeness of participants and their words, the story contained is fictional.

For more on the project, please visit this webpage.