To be “unapologetically Black and queer” is more than a descriptor; it’s a personal and professional calling for Chaz Antoine Barracks, ’11.

Raised in a Jamaican family in the suburbs of Connecticut, Barracks has long navigated the complexities of identity and culture, including now at UR, where he teaches since completing his doctorate at VCU in May 2020.

As professor of the course Media, Culture and Identity, Barracks works to challenge and expand his students’ understanding of scholarship. His syllabus includes texts and films by Black and queer authors and creators. In a recent class, Barracks’ students screened Ava DuVernay’s film When They See Us and read excerpts from Rosina Lippi-Green’s text English with an Accent. At times, they wrote journal responses to supplement class discussions that may place undue labor on Black and minority students.

“Reflection is a part of critical learning,” he said. “Wanting to learn, get it, and take the quiz — that’s not how education works in anti-racism work. Especially in institutional spaces.”

Barracks’ podcast, Black Matter, pairs his belief in centering Black joy with his conviction that the academic world extends far beyond the classroom. Its first season includes 10 episodes of interviews with Black queer artists, scholars, and others.

“We know there is a lot of knowledge that comes from Black communities,” he said. “This was a way to show the world that there are professors who study what I’m saying, but there are also folks in my community that inform the ways many of us in higher education think about gender, Black cultural production, and media.”

Barracks hopes to grow what he’s started with Black Matter with a second season, continuing to push boundaries of who we consider to be scholars by highlighting the knowledge rooted in lived experience, alternative paths, and joy.