Title

Literal Dope

Award Date

5-1-2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English

First Committee Member

Jose Orduña

Second Committee Member

Caralea Cole

Third Committee Member

Emily Setina

Fourth Committee Member

Brianna Whiteside

Number of Pages

55

Abstract

Literal Dope draws from the rich literary traditions of hip-hop and the broader umbrella of Black American art traditions. It seems to me that perhaps the best way to honor the language which raised me, taught me, and literally saved my life is to explore it, praise it, weaponize it when necessary, and deploy it as a tool for Black liberation. The work’s theory is deeply informed by bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Lucille Clifton, and a number of Black feminist artists. The world needs Black folks—especially Black men—who know love; who know how to love each other and know they are loved by each other. Growing up in the 90s, during the “superpredator” rhetoric militarization of police across the country, most everything I saw told me no one wanted me, and reminded me often. This is of course a trap designed to prevent the establishment of trust, and in turn the establishment of joy and love. I began to see this, and realized that dope was the answer. I needed to be dope. My poetry could help. I could use it to become dope. Not cool. Not widely celebrated. Dope. Magical. Metamorphic. Being dope means being honest about the ways I’ve been conditioned into the schools and behaviors of a violent patriarchy. It means moving beyond confession toward revelation and forgiveness and change. Being dope means learning how to get free, and keeping a couple things tucked away and within reach that can help you stay free.

Disciplines

Creative Writing

Language

English

Available for download on Friday, May 15, 2026


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