When you’re the only Black kid in the honors program or (any program) at your mostly white high school, or one of a handful of Black graduate students in your PhD program, or one of two African American women on the faculty at your Pac-10 employer, it’s not your gender non-conformity that sets you apart from your peers. In those environments, your Blackness is the first thing people notice about you. Still, there are other ways of being different--and feeling different--that can’t be attributed to race, especially if you’re one of the people whose awareness of the unwritten rules of what it means to be a boy or a girl (or a man or a woman) is tempered by the fact that most of those rules don’t feel quite right.
In Gender Studies: True Confessions of an Accidental Outlaw, Ajuan Mance gives comic treatment to the challenges, complexities, and occasional absurdity of life at the crossroads of race, gender, and geekiness. This graphic memoir answers important questions like: How many preschoolers have to mistake you for your dad before you actually start to forget your own name; if a Black girl is awful at double-dutch jump rope is it a reflection on her gender identity, racial identity, or both; and is viola player a gender or just a sexual orientation? Ajuan Mance’s comic confessions take up each of these questions and more, as it invites to share in those moments that mark the path of a gender explorer.