Mab Segrest

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Mab (Mabelle Massey) Segrest (born February 20, 1949) is an American lesbian feminist and anti-racist writer, scholar and activist. Segrest is best known for her 1994 autobiographical work Memoir of a Race Traitor, which won the Editor's Choice Lambda Literary Award.

Mab Segrest
Born
Mabelle Massey Segrest

(1949-02-20) February 20, 1949 (age 70)
NationalityAmerican
EducationDuke University (PhD)
OccupationScholar, Writer
Notable work
Memoir of a Race Traitor

Career[edit]

In the 1970s, Segrest moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University, where she earned her PhD in English literature in 1979. While studying at Duke, and for several years thereafter, she taught English at nearby Campbell University. Segrest worked at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut since 2002 and in 2004 was appointed the Fuller-Matthai Professor of Gender and Women's Studies. She retired from teaching in 2014.[1]

Social activism[edit]

Segrest has founded, served on the boards of, and consulted with a wide range of social justice organizations throughout her life and is a recognized speaker and writier on issues of sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression. From 1983 to 1990, Segrest worked with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV)., for which she is credited by many for ridding North Carolina of the Ku Klux Klan.[2] From 1992 to 2000 she served as coordinator of the Urban-Rural Mission (USA), part of the URM network of the World Council of Churches.

Writing[edit]

Until it disbanded in 1983, Segrest was a member of the Southern feminist writing collective Feminary, which also produced a journal of the same name.[3] Feminarians, including Segrest, saw writing as a force for political change, and the journal maintained a Southern feminist focus and was anti-sexist, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-classist.[2]

Through the collective and other activist work, Segrest generated material for her first book of essays, My Mama's Dead Squirrel.

Her book narrating her experience working against the Klan with North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence (NCARRV) is Memoir of a Race Traitor, published in 1994. It was named an Outstanding Book on Human Rights in North America and was Editor's Choice for the Lambda Literary Awards.[4] Memoir of a Race Traitor has been hailed by Howard Zinn as "extraordinary . . . It is a 'political memoir,' but its language is poetic and its tone passionate." [5] It is considered a key text in white studies and anti-racist studies. In this work, Segrest outlines her definition of "queer socialism," which is how she defines her political stance. This version of socialism demands a more caring world where all citizens are taken into consideration when resources are allocated and opportunities are dispensed. She says that while there is no blueprint as yet for this form of socialism, it would be based in feminist theory and practice. It was re-released in 2019 by The New Press.[6]

Segrest's book, Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice was published in 2002 and recounts her experiences in activism around the world. Segrest co-edited Sing, Whisper, Shout, Pray: Feminist Strategies for a Just World (2003) with Jacqui Alexander, Lisa Albrect and Sharon Day.

Segres was awarded a fellowship at the National Humanities Center to support the writing of her Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum on the history of the Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia, forthcoming in 2020 by The New Press.

In popular culture[edit]

Founding Riot grrrl band Le Tigre mention Segrest's name in their 1999 single "Hot Topic," from their debut album Le Tigre. In listing important feminist figures, lead singer Kathleen Hanna described the song as "as analogous to a college syllabus":[7]

Hot topic is the way that we rhyme

Hot topic is the way that we rhyme

One step behind the drum style

One step behind the drum style

Carol Rama and Eleanor Antin

Yoko Ono and Carolee Schneemann

You're getting old, that's what they'll say, but

Don't give a damn I'm listening anyway

Stop, don't you stop

I can't live if you stop

Don't you stop

Gretchen Phillips and Cibo Matto

Leslie Feinberg and Faith Ringgold

Mr. Lady, Laura Cottingham

Mab Segrest and The Butchies, man

Don't stop

Don't you stop

We won't stop

Don't you stop

So many rules and so much opinion

So much shit to give in, give in to

So many rules and so much opinion

So much bullshit but we won't give in

Stop, we won't stop

Don't you stop

I can't live if you stop

Tammy Rae Carland and Sleater-Kinney

Vivienne Dick and Lorraine O'Grady

Gayatri Spivak and Angela Davis

Laurie Weeks and Dorothy Allison

Stop, don't you stop

Please don't stop

We won't stop

[Spoken]

Gertrude Stein, Marlon Riggs, Billie Jean King, Ut, DJ Cuttin Candy

David Wojnarowicz, Melissa York, Nina Simone, Ann Peebles, Tami Hart

The Slits, Hanin Elias, Hazel Dickens, Cathy Sissler, Shirley Muldowney

Urvashi Vaid, Valie Export, Cathy Opie, James Baldwin

Diane Dimassa, Aretha Franklin, Joan Jett, Mia X, Krystal Wakem

Kara Walker, Justin Bond, Bridget Irish, Juliana Lueking

Cecelia Dougherty, Ariel Schrag, The Need, Vaginal Creme Davis

Alice Gerard, Billy Tipton, Julie Doucet, Yayoi Kusama, Eileen Myles

Oh no, no, no don't stop.

Segrest was depicted in the 2016 stage play The Integration of Tuskegee High School. The production premiered at Auburn University and dramatized Segrest's time as a student during the 1963-1964 school year in her hometown of Tuskegee, Alabama.[8]

Publications[edit]

  • My Mama’s Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture (Firebrand Books, 1985)
  • Memoir of a Race Traitor (South End Press, 1994; re-released The New Press, 2019)
  • Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice (Rutgers University Press, 2002)
  • Sing, Whisper, Shout, Pray: Feminist Strategies for a Just World (Edgework Books, 2003), co-edited with Jacqui Alexander, Lisa Albrect and Sharon Day
  • Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum (The New Press, forthcoming 2020)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mab Segrest". Connecticut College. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  2. ^ a b Powell 100–101
  3. ^ Thompson, Becky W (2001). A promise and a way of life: white antiracist activism. University of Minnesota Press. p. 434. ISBN 0-8166-3634-6.
  4. ^ Cerna, Antonio Gonzalez (1995-07-15). "7th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  5. ^ [1] South End Press
  6. ^ MEMOIR OF A RACE TRAITOR by Mab Segrest | Kirkus Reviews.
  7. ^ Chute, Hillary (December 28, 1999). "More, more, more". The Village Voice. 44 (51). Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  8. ^ Dyleski, Taylor (April 2016). "'The Integration of Tuskegee High School: Lee v. Macon County Board of Education' opens April 14 at Auburn University". Auburn University. Retrieved 2013-05-23.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]