The HBCU Symposium on Rhetoric and Composition is happening now! This year’s theme is Transdisciplinarity @ HBCUs: Rewriting Black Futures Beyond the Margin. Just ahead of her keynote address: Still Standing: Student Voices, Curation, and HBCU Legacies, we had a conversation with keynote speaker Regina N. Bradley, Ph.D., Author of Chronicling Stankonia: the Rise of the Hip-Hop South and Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I've been reading and writing my entire life. I knew I might really be into this writing thing after documenting the 1994 Flood in my hometown of Albany, GA. I was 10 and wanted to make sure all the water I saw, people I talked to, and the devastation overall was never forgotten. I had to write to get out my sadness. I typed all my thoughts and observations out on my grandparents' old gray typewriter. I wrote/typed out nearly 30 pages.
What advice would you give to Black and Brown higher education students that are interested in studying English, Rhetoric, Composition, or Writing?
English Studies is more than just dead, white, (usually) male writers and thinkers. It is okay to think outside-the-box and wander outside of the traditional canon. Stand on your own truth: ask yourself what brought you to the field in the first place and where do you want to see the field go? For me, I wanted to see more about the Black South from a southern Black person's perspective. That's my truth and it grounds my scholarship and research.
Your book "Chronicling Stankonia: the Rise of the Hip-Hop South" is about more than OutKast -- it's about artistry and speaking one's truth. What can students at HBCUs learn from OutKast and speaking truth?
Sometimes, your truth will be misinterpreted, dismissed, or completely overlooked because you do not follow a particular path. That's okay. Be like OutKast and do it anyway. Be unapologetic in celebrating who you are -- the institutions and people that have made way for you to be dope. Don't apologize for being dope.
Student voices have always played an important role in building HBCU legacies. What should instructors do to help elevate their voices?
The biggest challenge for me as an instructor is to get students to recognize that their voice is worth being heard, that they have something to share. My best advice for instructors is to be encouragement and stay encouraged: be in students' corners by pointing out what is great about their writing and what can be improved. Stay encouraged by continuously showing up for students even when they can't or won't show up for themselves. I've learned students don't appreciate you fully until after the class is over. You are making an impact. Have faith in that truth.
To learn more about or register for the symposium, click here. Select sessions will be available on the Macmillan Community following the event.