Quenna Lene Barrett

I’m a girl. A woman. A black woman who sometimes reads and sometimes writes and sometimes wonders what would happen if I turned those sometimes writings into everyday writings. Welcome to my journey.In the documentary film Acting Together on the World Stage, Peruvian artist Ana Correa describes an experience she had as an adult with her grandmother braiding her hair. That moment for her illuminated how she had reclaimed her identity, and shared an intergenerational encounter with her grandmother. Talking in a group with others after watching the film, I realized that for as long as I can remember, my grandmothers have been straightening my hair.My roots have to be straightened, tamed.In that instant, I felt the de-historicization of an entire people, through the strands of my hair. My roots have to be straightened to fit in; they must transform; they must be, in essence, erased.In that instant, I remembered that I didn’t know the stories of my great or great-great grandparents, of where they came from and how they got to this country, state, city; family stories that many of peers in undergrad and graduate school could recount easily.


Equal Justice 2017/2018




Chicago, IL USA