Dreaming From the Hold: Suffering, Survival, and Futurity as Contextual Knowing

Wilson Kwamogi Okello, Antonio A. Duran, Eva Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In an interview with Randall Kenan, Octavia E. Butler extracts the harsh realities of history and its effects on the present, stating, “I couldn’t let her come back whole::: Antebellum slavery didn’t leave people quite whole.” (Kenan, Callaloo, 1991, 14, p. 498). This quote refers to her book, Kindred (1979) in which the protagonist, Dana, time travels from present-day to the antebellum era where she encounters the terrors of slavery. Lured back when Rufus, a White slave owner, is in immediate danger, Dana loses part of her arm in transport while Rufus pins her down and attempts to rape her. For Butler, atrocities are embodied.We begin our inquiry with a similar belief that survival in the afterlife of White supremacy means loss for Black bodyminds. Yet, linearity in student development theorizing, underscored by the subject–object principle (Baxter Magolda, Making their own way: Narratives for transforming higher education to promote self-development, Stylus Publishing, 2001; Baxter Magolda, Journal of College Student Development, 2008, 49, 269; Kegan, The evolving self: Problem and process in human development, Harvard University Press, 1982; Kegan, In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life, Harvard University Press, 1994), presumes that students begin from a place of wholeness, possessing the unbounded sociopolitical power to invent their realities (Okello, Journal of College Student Development, 2018, 59, 528). Alternatively, we theorize from the hold of the ship (Wilderson, Red, White, and Black: Cinema and the structure of U.S. antagonisms, Duke University Press, 2010), foregrounding the inescapability of history’s sociopolitical grasp. We move to consider what it means for Black students to exist in and dream from the wake (Sharpe, In the wake: On Blackness and being, Duke University Press, 2016). Specifically, the questions—how do Black bodyminds experience suffering (Dumas, Race, Ethnicity and Education, 2014, 17, 1), survive, and in what condition (e.g., loss, scarring, memory) are they moving forward (emerge)—demands investigation if researchers and educators are to respond to the holistic development and health of Black students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-87
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Diversity in Higher Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 13 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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