Dirty Computers: Synthesizing and Disrupting

Dear Scyborgs, Androids, MCs, Breakers and Dirty Computers,

This is Kashema 32921, writing about another reconfiguring on a HASTAC Digital Friday (February 26, 2021). Once again I infiltrated the space and discussed my synthesis of theory, music, history, education and experiential knowledge. To do so, my main tools were la paperson’s A Third University is Possible and Janelle Monae’s discography, with a focus on the emotion and critically acclaimed  Dirty Computer. I assembled verses and songs that reflected the mechanics to rewire institutions of all kinds to our fitting.

Dirty Computer - Wikipedia
Janelle Monae’s critically acclaimed album and emotion picture, Dirty Computer.

I explained the tradition and technologies of settler colonialism and why and how most universities exist, which is to maintain settler colonialism. This can look like how admissions, registration, curriculum and faculty hiring affects the student’s education to say the least. However, according to la paperson, students, faculty, staff and/or college dropouts can make a difference. La paperson calls these individuals are called, scyborgs. They colonial hope and anxiety because they can mimic the colonial ideology and they can also disrupt by repurposing the university. In other words, they like to get dirty. I then link this with Monae’s Dirty Computer, but also highlight that she has been getting dirty for a long time:

“And I just tell ’em cut me up and get down
They call us dirty cause we break all your rules down
“Q.U.E.E.N.”, Electric Ladies (2013)

Monae is a college drop-out of American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City and has used her training and her passion in her music to be decolonial projects in which she educates and liberates marginalized communities, like us. In Dirty Computer, is a guide for us to “Take a Byte” in digital spaces and even though we get “Screwed”, we too can screw and reconfigure as well.  It is imperative that no matter what institution we’re in, we take heed from her and la paperson’s work to do the work. Learning is nothing without applying.

Till we are all free, it’s time to get dirty.

Letting love lead the way,

Kashema 32921


The Futures Initiative
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