This summer, I’m taking a deep dive… into Indigenous Studies. I’ve explained my reasons elsewhere, but a few have surfaced this week as more urgent than others. Now that I am attuned to the subject, I see it everywhere. However, frequency illusion, as it is called, doesn’t work quite so well when your main subject is consistently erased.

Last week, I focused on history as a way to get some clear grounding for literature. My goal was to begin understanding the past and the context for Indigenous cultures from the perspective of Indigenous cultures. This week, I had intended to…


Do you want to know why Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett has been making the rounds on news media and teleconference calls championing the COVID-19 vaccine?

Dr. Corbett is the Black woman microbiologist and immunologist responsible for the groundbreaking research that lead to the Moderna vaccine. Yet, many folks I know — largely people of color — want to know, in the words of the late Aretha Franklin, who’s Zooming who? Despite a Black woman at the helm, they remain hesitant about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Image description: Fierce brown skinned Black woman dressed in all black with a sleeveless turtle neck shirt and a black leather pencil skirt. Her arms are crossed such that her right hand with pink nails rests in the crook of her left elbow and her left hand is positioned under her chin. Her hair is laid. This is Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Twitter @KizzyPhD. Photo Credit: Timothy Nwachukwu/NYT/Redux/eyevine

Vaccine hesitancy was never an option for me. I belong to the vast group of Black…


As I explained in Lesson 1, I will spend the summer learning more about Indigenous Studies. I chose this topic for several important reasons. First, I know very little about it. Second, I have some experience in looking at other marginalized cultures, namely Arab American and African American. Third, I want to ensure some support and accountability so that I don’t get stalled or overwhelmed in learning something new.

This week, I decided to read An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Having read A Disability History of the United States by Kim Nielsen, I am…


2021 will be the longest-awaited summer of my life! Last year, I did not get a break from my work as a professor. Starting in the spring, I helped my campus prepare for the first full semester of COVID-19, Fall 2020. During the school year, I immersed myself in other professional activities, namely helping to bring to fruition some of the institution’s plans for equity.

Now that June is here, I cannot wait to return to my first love: reading. Here’s the thing. …


Before the vaccines are completely rolled out, people have already begun speculating about what they want life to look like post-pandemic. Fantasies about our new world abound: leisurely eating at restaurants, maskless workplaces, in-person learning, hugs. This is a return to before, usually phrased as a “return to normal”. Such fantasies not only ignore the public health wisdom we’ve learned, but also disregard just how inaccessible the old normal was. …


I find myself in a conundrum while writing about this episode. On the one hand, the larger narrative is obvious: gentrification. (If you want to know why I’m focused on larger narratives, click here.) On the other hand, thinking about gentrification exhausts me because it just reminds me that white supremacy takes and takes and takes.

But, first, shout out to Shahada who makes an appearance in this episode! (She appears in Episode 4 first.) One of my favorite parts in the episode is when Shahada helps Nate say goodbye to his locks because she harnesses the power of community…


Still from Netflix’s Queer Eye. Here the Fab5 do the vocal warm-up from Sister Act which Jonathan references multiple times this season. Jonathan does scare Bobby into delivering another octave when Tan surprises Bobby by popping out of a blanket. I think Bobby delivers a solid A5.

Some stories will resonate with QE viewers more than others. Some viewers connect based on shared social identities, some on shared struggles. This is part of what makes the individual stories so powerful. (If you’re curious about why I am not focused on individual stories, click here.) This episode resonated with me for a number of reasons. I’ll explain why.

Episode 9 features Dr. Lilly Yi a medical doctor whose look results in her being underaged and misrecognized as a doctor. Lilly will be making a transition in her career from resident to practicing on her own. Many people believe…


Borders. Borders. Borders. Las fronteras. Las fronteras. Las fronteras.

Los límites. Los límites. Los límites. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries.

This episode makes me want to talk about Gloria Anzaldúa and, like a good comparatist, Ann Petry. Let me explain. (If you want to know why I’m embarking on this series, click here.)

Still from Netflix’s Queer Eye. Marcos is talking to his daughter saying “I was just trying to make sure nothing happened to you.”

The eighth episode in Queer Eye season 5 features Marcos, a fishmonger seeking to open a restaurant. Marcos and his wife, Alma, immigrated to Philadelphia, PA from Puebla, Mexico and have four children. Their oldest, Jennifer, is estranged at the time of filming. The Fab5 endeavor to help Marcos…


In the initial overview for my Queer Eye: Stories Behind the Stories post, I said that I was interested in the larger structural narratives that undergird the individual storyline. I’m going to violate that rule. This time, I turn my attention to the individual story for the larger narratives it relies upon. If you find yourself irritated with me, feel free to go back and watch this episode for the innuendo of Jennifer (the featured guest) and Antoni making kielbasa. Also, feel free to watch Jonathan Van Ness feel their fantasy as part of Sister Act.

Still from Netflix’s Queer Eye Season 5. From right to left, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, and Antoni Porowski. At the center, Jonathan is fully feeling their fantasy as part of a pretend Sister Act choir. Sister Act and Sister Act II: Back in the Habit are two movies that Jonathan brings up at least twice in the series.

Episode 7 features Jennifer…


Overview of this series.

I’m not sure some of you will like me after this one. But, I’m willing to risk it.

Still from Netflix’s Queer Eye. Here two members of the Fab5 — Antoni (left) and Tan (right) — are saying “No” to Ryan (foreground) because he says he needs a wife so that someone can perform domestic duties like cleaning.

If you don’t, just watch the episode because it features Karamo in a kimono and Tan jumping up and down like a club kid and beach ready Antoni and skeptical Bobby and flirty Jonathan. I live!

We’re more than halfway through the season, so I suspected there might be at least one throwback to the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, in which the Fab5 set their sights on ideas about masculinity. This episode does not disappoint.

Therí A. Pickens, PhD

Author of Black Madness :: Mad Blackness, & New Body Politics. She’s curious about how & why we tell stories. www.tpickens.org Twitter: @TAPPhD

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