Finding Sankofa moments as time ticks on

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

I have never believed in the myth of linear time. An automaton that marches onward into infinity, counting the days to our imminent demise. Music was my first teacher in this regard. Watching as my grandparents listened to Major Harris’s “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” observing youth re-enter their wizened eyes — a light-hearted sobriety seemed to bubble from within them. This was the secret to time travel! Listening to the (nearly pornographic) slow jam turned their raised fists into caressing hands. The fight-prone partners melted into languid dancers. Time is not my oppressor, necessarily. Time is my teacher.


Processing boyhood trauma


TW: trauma and sexual assault




Our childhood “romance” started out as innocent admiration which later evolved into mild obsession. Obsession begat desire (albeit forbidden desire) and desire led to consummation. This consummation did not fill me up, but left a void.

After a few years of acquaintance, my grandparents finally were comfortable with letting me sleepover at Z’s house. They were Old School, you see, so you weren’t about to stay over at “just anybody’s house.” Besides, sleepovers were squarely in the realm of “white folks’ shit.” I’m not sure if they were tired of me asking…

From exile to chosen

I still remember the first time someone told me that I was a sin. Of course, they said “homosexuality” was a sin, but what I heard and knew was that I was fundamentally wrong — a stain on the fabric of God’s otherwise perfect creation. I may not remember the exact year or date, but I could never forget the feeling. The deep pit of regret and shame that began to form in my chest. The firm biting of my lower lip as the congregation murmured “Amens” in unison. The feeling of childish superiority that my holiness had once granted…

A “first time” story

Discovering pleasure in the midst of a “harmless” game

Photo Credit: Alex Radelich

“First time” stories are of course a ubiquitous cliche of creative nonfiction. The “vomiting during the blowjob” story (I can tell you one too), the “the pain of first penetration narrative,” and many more funny stories. My story is about games. Seemingly harmless, playful, yet damaging games that we played in the alley. Of course, our parents did not hear about these games. These were private roundtables which only the chosen of the alley took part. After distinguishing myself as the local black nerd who could make (literally) a shot on the basketball court, I had newly gained status along…

How I won my first fight

Another boyhood lesson in toxic masculinity

Fighting was in my nature I suppose — Wrestling with my identity and the expectations of society was an everyday reality

This was a summer sometime in adolescence (I never promised a perfect chronology!). I do remember that it was hot as hell, the harsh Indiana humidity compounded by the heat-trapping qualities of the alleyway blacktop made it nearly unbearable. I, of course, was out following on Z’s coattails. His agenda was my agenda. What else would I do?

One day, we were at Rae’s house. Now Rae was a little bit older than us, therefore cool and dangerous. He had a mean and crazy streak. He managed to make wearing glasses look cool, which I envied. He had a swagger…

First short story of my memoir The Games We Play: Growing Up Black and Gay

Alley Politics

The Rules of Engagement

My childhood was marked by a constant state of disorientation. I had so many rules to learn, and it seemed I had no time to learn them all. First of all, how to act. Act is the right word. My mom was fond of saying “You betta not act a fool with me in public.”

“How do you act a fool?” my childish mind thought, but I dared not talk back for fear of a swift ass whoopin’.

Another favorite was how to act in…

Embracing presence and the courage to love today…

This illuminated rotten stump found on the Laurel Creek Trail in Tennessee spoke to me. Even with my broken and fragmented thoughts, I am present to the light within.

Firstly, I must apologize for my hiatus from writing. I underestimated the amount of emotional energy and labor that my first year at new job would require. Fear not, though, my faithful readers! I have a plan this time and some exciting new content in the works (check the end of this article…)!

Now, for the actual blog…

Recently, I have encountered a number of transition points in my life — the end of a semester, finishing my doctorate, and reaching my weight loss goals. Perhaps the most resonant transition has been navigating my new body. In a discussion with…

This week I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a great colleague and friend, Dr. Diane Kessel! She is Instructor of Flute at Georgia Southern University, and has become a wonderful support for me in my first year here.

In a circuitous, profound, and fun interview, we discussed our encounters with student mental health concerns and the importance of self-care.

I have included the recorded interview below for your listening pleasure! Feel free to comment with your thoughts.

(No transcript this week, because it is insane crunch time in my neck of the woods)

An example of Dr. Kessel’s self-care hobby. She is quite the artist! Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes

I had a long and bumpy journey to my current way of singing and performing — I was a late bloomer. However, my long winding path from tenor to baritone and back to tenor led me to find things to focus on in my practice other than “my sound.” I was lucky that at University of Louisville, I was able to minor in African American Theatre and get some wonderful instruction in acting and character development.

Looking back, I realize that there was this dichotomous relationship between technique and performance that remained unreconciled. I had wonderful ideas for characters in…

Since starting my job at Georgia Southern University teaching voice-related coursework, I have been supremely enriched by taking advantage of programs offered by our Center for Teaching Excellence. Most recently, I have joined a faculty book group where we are discussing Dr. Saundra Y. McGuire’s book Teach Students How to Learn. Exploring the research presented in this book has been eye-opening and has changed the way I approach classroom and studio teaching.

The main premise of the book is that by using metacognitive strategies and teaching students about specific research-supported study skills students will be more successful in their courses…

Marquese Carter

Singer | Musicologist | Voice Teacher | Cultural Activist

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