Blackness, Belonging, and the GOP

Meet anthro major Anesu Ndoro ’21

September 29, 2021

Major: anthropology

Hometown: Chegutu, Zimbabwe

Thesis adviser: Prof. Betsey Brada

Thesis: “Family Matters: Black Conservatives and Political Belonging in the Republican Party”

What it’s about: My thesis examines how Black conservatives navigate belonging and status within the Republican Party, and how this is tied to their views on Black family-making practices within the United States. I investigate how these views interact with Blackness, predominant sociopolitical ideologies about belonging, and conservative political participation.

What it’s really about: What do Black conservatives think about “the nuclear family” and why?

In high school: I was quite sociable, liked debate and public speaking, and was a bit of a bookworm.

Influential book: The ethnographic anthology Stories of Our Lives: Queer Narratives from Kenya contains interviews from over 200 queer people across Kenya, and presents their narratives to the public unapologetically. I had not previously been exposed to any literature quite like it, and it was very powerful to see those stories told the way that they were.

Concept that blew my mind: Hands down, semiotics, which tries to explain how humans make meaning of the world they live in, from the sounds we produce to indicate words, the physical gestures we make to express emotions, to the political symbols we use such as flags and national anthems. I first learned of semiotics in a linguistic anthropology class, and I’m still trying to figure out what it’s all about!

Cool stuff I got to do: Being a housing adviser gave me an opportunity to help fellow Reedies in a direct and impactful way. I also started a Mbira Music Club where I taught a few Reedies how to play Zimbabwe’s mbira instrument.

Ability developed at Reed: I learned to exercise patience when I have to learn something new, as well as to exercise patience in moments when someone is learning from me. Taking the time to understand where people are coming from creates possibilities for learning cooperation.

Challenges I faced: I had to do a lot of background work in order to inform myself about some things my classmates had covered in their high schools. Learning far away from home was also quite hard because I had to contend with problems I was facing here in the United States as well as problems back home in Zimbabwe.

Help I got along the way: Academically, I got help from professors, the librarians, tutors, and study groups. Financially, I obtained help from the financial aid office, campus employment, and the various financial award opportunities for students. Emotionally, I got help from friends, my host family, as well as other friendly folks at Reed.

How Reed changed me: Reed taught me the value of friendships, social networks, and seeking help when you need it. I learned to be more curious and to ask questions when I don’t know something, rather than make assumptions.

What’s next: Going back home to Zimbabwe to work and applying for graduate school to get a PhD in anthropology.