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Digital Studies Institute pres.

Black Women's Gaming Practices as Intersectional Counterpublics

Kishonna Gray, University of Illinois at Chicago

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"I am unable to detangle, in any analytic or actual way, my gender, race, or sexuality from the vitriol and symbolic violence levied upon me after the discovery of my physical identities in digital spaces." Misogynoir, a core facet of Black feminist discourse and an integral part of intersectionality, acknowledges that Black women’s experiences inside the matrix of domination is echoed by the many ways that Black women are dehumanized in popular culture. Misogynoir also expands the scope of examination and provides an inclusive focus on not just anti-Blackness and White supremacy, but also intraracially, in exploring how Black masculinity and Black patriarchy contribute to the objectification of Black women. To gain a sense of the interracial and intraracial experiences of Black women in gaming, this talk will interrogate ethnographic observations and interviews with Black women and other women of color in online gaming communities. While these examples highlight the continued devaluation of women in public spaces, my observational narratives weave together a simultaneous engagement with being a Black woman while online, while gaming, and while consuming mediated content about Black women in “the real world.” This transmediated engagement illustrates intersectional tech,
exploring the entanglements of visual, textual, and oral engagements of the Black body in both the digital and physical realms.


Kishonna Gray is an Assistant Professor in Communication and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Previously, she served as an MLK Scholar and Assistant Professor at MIT in the Women & Gender Studies Program as well as a Faculty Visitor at the Social Media Collective at Microsoft Research (Cambridge).

Her work broadly intersects identity and digital media with a particular focus on video games and gaming culture. By examining game context and culture in her most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live, examines the reality of women and people of color in one of the largest gaming communities.
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