Femme Friday — Nia Witherspoon

When I first met Nia, there was something going on between the two of us that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It wasn’t bad, it was just hard to identify. Eventually, I realized what it was: this lovely young femme was respecting me as an elder. Such an incredible gift!

Nia is an accomplished scholar and artist, with a BA from Smith and a PhD from Stanford. She generously blesses the world with her nuanced and creative explorations of blackness, gender, sexuality, and intergenerational trauma, giving us queer femme wisdom, making us think, giving us motivation to act in the name of love.

Deep gratitude to Nia Witherspoon!

Nia’s play, “The Messiah Complex”, had its world premier at BRIC (Brooklyn), in May, 2016:

The Messiah Complex is a love story. Or many. It centers on Malika, a teenager on the trans-spectrum, who creates an alter-ego named Messiah, a popular basketball-ball star and aspiring rapper. When Messiah’s secret is revealed at 16, all comes crashing down, and s/he makes a fatal mistake. DJ Messiah, 10 years later, must face the literal ghost of a past mistake unearthed through a nightclub turned ritual. But this ghost wants more than reckoning. Set to the sound of hip-hop, the ring shout, and the wailing of ghosts, Messiah must find a way home.

Featuring a predominately Black, queer and trans cast and creative team, The Messiah Complex is a play about the legacy of the Panthers in the age of crack, where a scratch at a DJ booth incites a replay of the past, an action that interrogates generations of violence on black, queer bodies. This BRIClab Commission brings ritual into the theater, shifting from the secular to the sacred through rites already present in black life—the frenzy of a nightclub, the libations poured on street corners, and the sonic landscapes of hip hop. Ultimately, The Messiah Complex tells a story of recognition, revolution and forgiveness.

And here is Nia, reading:

And if you can get to New York, here’s information on Nia’s new play, YouMine:


Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. Suggestions welcome!

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