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Allies, Imposters, & Empathy: Featuring Alicia Gaines

Uptown Campus

Join the Office of Multicultural Affairs as we explore issues of cultural appropriation including Black fishing, digital blackface, performing Blackness, cultural capital.

Alisha Gaines is the Timothy Gannon Associate Professor of English at Florida State University with a PhD in English and a certificate in African and African American Studies from Duke University.

Her first manuscript, Black for a Day: Fantasies of Race and Empathy, was published with UNC Press (Spring 2017). The project rethinks the political consequences of empathy by examining mid-to-late twentieth and twenty-first century narratives of racial impersonation enabled by the spurious alibi of racial reconciliation. Black for a Day constructs a genealogy of white liberals who temporarily "become" black under the alibi of racial empathy. Its genealogy includes: the magical racial change of a white Senator in the 1947 musical, Finian's Rainbow; journalist Ray Sprigle's four weeks as a black man in the South in 1948; journalist and memoirist, John Howard Griffin's, five weeks as a black man in 1959; Grace Halsell's stunt as a black woman in Harlem and Mississippi for six months in 1969; and the families of the Sparks and the Wurgels switching races for reality television in 2006. The project's epilogue then turns to the cultural nerve struck by the viral media story of Rachel Dolezal, a former NAACP chapter president who was "outed" for claiming she was black.

Her interdisciplinary teaching interests include African American literature and culture, black queer theory, media and performance studies, narratives of passing, and New Southern studies.

Office of Multicultural Affairs

For more information on this event, please visit https://tulane.campuslabs.com/engage/event/6493968