chapter  8
Racialized Bodies as Lived Experiences: How Phenomenology Might Off er Literacy Studies Another Perspective on the Body
ByHilary E. Hughes
Pages 14

I did not want to write this chapter. My body had a visceral reaction each time I sat down to write. Day after day, week after week, I stared at a blank page on my computer screen thinking about the story I needed to tell, and my body morphed into an obstinate position of resistance: shoulders pushed forward and tight; nerves in my right arm activated so they could begin the numbing process all the way down into my wrist; soft shooting pains in my neck-or perhaps lingering memories of shooting pains, reminding me of all of the writing I had done in the past about bodies. For over a decade I’ve read about bodies, talked about bodies, and written about bodies. I conducted a year-long phenomenological study about bodies,1 asking what it was like for the eight 12-year-old girls of color who participated in a writing group with me to experience what I call bodily-notenoughness-those moments when someone or something tells girls and women we are not enough of something in our lived or physical bodies.Yet, each time I sat down at the computer and told my writer-self it was time to produce this chapter about bodies, my own body seemed to embody a resistance similar to the resistance the girls in the study embodied when someone told them they were not smart enough, White enough, English-speaking enough, feminine enough, rich enough, or thin enough, to name a few. When those moments arose, the girls would resist those malevolent messages being inscribed on their bodies, whether it was through their writing or their conversations with each other and me. And while I both appreciated and learned from the girls’ resistance and resilience during the time I spent with them and well beyond, I wondered why my body was now resisting this chapter every time I ended another day with nothing on the page.