Individual Presentation or Panel Title

The American Promise and the Curriculum of Crazy

Abstract

In James McBride’s recently published novel The Good Lord Bird, there is a scene in which a woman Libby, who was enslaved and held behind her owner’s house in a pen filled with dozens of other “dark-skinned, pure Negroes,” tells her sister protectively, to “sit by me, Sibonia.” A community leader, Sibona dons what I call in this project a “crazy costume” in her first interaction with Onion, our pre-adolescent, mixed-race protagonist. McBride introduces Sibonia fully clad in the costume; through Onion’s eyes we see “a wild woman cackling and babbling like a chicken. She sounded like her mind was a little soft, babbling like she was, but I couldn’t make out no words” (p. 160). In an attempt to explore my own battle with mental illness, I have come to realize that I am not alone. Drawing on W.E.B. DuBois’ concept of psychic disequilibrium and Franz Fanon’s articulations of metal illness among colonized populations, I have been able to understand my struggles within a larger social context. Pushing back against White patriarchal “research methods,” I use collage to help me illustrate the ways in which I see multiple layers of most stories. Collage is helping me organize and articulate my thoughts.

Presentation Description

This paper explores the crazy-making entities that characterize schooling in the United States against the backdrop of The American Promise. Using collage as methodology, I explore my own descent into mental illness in my attempt to resist the US apartheid schooling structures. I also discuss possible routes to self-liberation.

Keywords

curriculum, arts-based methodology, mental illness, decolonization, craziness

Location

Magnolia Room B

Publication Type and Release Option

Presentation (Open Access)

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Jun 11th, 2:00 PM Jun 11th, 3:15 PM

The American Promise and the Curriculum of Crazy

Magnolia Room B

In James McBride’s recently published novel The Good Lord Bird, there is a scene in which a woman Libby, who was enslaved and held behind her owner’s house in a pen filled with dozens of other “dark-skinned, pure Negroes,” tells her sister protectively, to “sit by me, Sibonia.” A community leader, Sibona dons what I call in this project a “crazy costume” in her first interaction with Onion, our pre-adolescent, mixed-race protagonist. McBride introduces Sibonia fully clad in the costume; through Onion’s eyes we see “a wild woman cackling and babbling like a chicken. She sounded like her mind was a little soft, babbling like she was, but I couldn’t make out no words” (p. 160). In an attempt to explore my own battle with mental illness, I have come to realize that I am not alone. Drawing on W.E.B. DuBois’ concept of psychic disequilibrium and Franz Fanon’s articulations of metal illness among colonized populations, I have been able to understand my struggles within a larger social context. Pushing back against White patriarchal “research methods,” I use collage to help me illustrate the ways in which I see multiple layers of most stories. Collage is helping me organize and articulate my thoughts.